February 22, 2020
Circle Health Awards Grants to Target Pressing Health Issues

February 7, 2020 — Circle Health, a nonprofit collaboration of physicians, hospitals, other health providers, and organizations, based in Lowell, today announced it has awarded $10,000 grants to each of two eastern Massachusetts nonprofits, funds aimed at targeting some of the region's most pressing health priorities.

Receiving the grants from Circle Health were:
  • Community Provides of Adolescent Services (COMPASS), based in Boston, which provides services to at-risk populations of youth, adolescents, and families. In partnership with the Greater Lowell Division of Children and Family Services, the grant will support the organization’s work to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children by identifying impacted youth, increasing service providers and creating positive social environments and job training for youth.

  • Coalition for a Better Acre, Lowell, a community development corporation focused on Lowell and the Merrimack Valley. The grant will help this organization to implement STEP, a workforce development program providing low-income community members the training, resources and skills needed to become self-sufficient. The program includes guaranteed job placement, free transportation for 1 year and 1.5 years of wrap-around services.
A third nonprofit , End 68 Hours of Hunger, based in New Hampshire, will use a similar grant to target childhood hunger in Dracut. The grant will enable the agency to provide at-risk children a backpack of food for the weekend, which can be 68 hours of hunger.

The grantees will be honored at the 15th annual Circle Health Ball for Community Health Initiatives next month.

Girls, Inc. of Greater Lowell, a Lowell nonprofit that works with girls to help them reach their full potential, will be the beneficiary of a live Fund-a-Need drive the night of the ball and its fund its Strong Self, Strong Families program, which was developed specifically to address challenging dynamics involving excessive bullying, domestic and family violence, custodial instability, and related substance abuse. Last year's event raised $70,000 for Catie’s Closet, a Dracut nonprofit that provides an in-school resource of clothing and basic necessities to students living below the poverty line.

The Circle Health grants are awarded to agencies addressing health priorities that were identified in the 2019 Greater Lowell Community Health Needs Assessment conducted by Lowell General Hospital, the Greater Lowell Health Alliance, and the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Amanda Kelley, a COMPASS family specialist, said," The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a growing, often silent, epidemic impacting the lives of many of our youth. This grant will allow us the opportunity to spread awareness, education, prevention and hope to a population silenced by trauma.”

COMPASS joined the Lowell Taskforce to End Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children when it was founded more than three years ago in conjunction with several other local service agencies. This group, spearheaded by the Greater Lowell Department of Children and Families, provides opportunities for trainings, awareness, outreach, and a place for local service providers to expand their collective impact in greater Lowell.

According to COMPASS, the commercial sexual exploitation of children is pervasive and the long-term effects are devastating for the youth and their families.

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