Community Foundation awards grants for youths to 28 nonprofit organizations

Community Foundation PHAST

June Otte speaks during a presentation of grants from the Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund with the Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois & Northeast Missouri. The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon at PHAST Tracks, which was one of this year's recipients. | Photo courtesy of Kaylee McFarland

QUINCY — Twenty-eight local nonprofit organizations are receiving grants in Samantha Otte’s memory that will benefit hundreds of area youths for artistic, leadership and humanitarian efforts.

The grants, totaling nearly more than $55,000, were distributed from the Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund with the Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois & Northeast Missouri. The announcement was made at PHAST Tracks, 628 Jersey, one of this year’s grant recipients. Since the fund was established in late 2000, more than $578,000 has been distributed through grants to support kids in Samantha’s memory. 

“This distribution from the Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund is the largest amount given in any single year — more than $55,000,” said June Otte, Samantha’s mother. “It’s wonderful to see all the goodness happening in Samantha’s memory. From all of Samantha’s family and friends, we are deeply grateful to all who have made this possible.”

The Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund honors the life and legacy of Samantha Otte by helping area children reach their potential. Samantha died in March 2000 at age 10 after a liver transplant necessitated by cystic fibrosis. Samantha’s parents, Chuck and June Otte, decided shortly after her death to start a fund in their daughter’s memory at the Community Foundation. The Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund was the foundation’s first donor-advised fund.

“Children are our future, and by supporting local kids, we grow our community’s potential,” Community Foundation CEO Catherine Bocke Meckes said. “It is an honor to award these grants in Sammy’s memory, knowing that her spark and spirit lives on through each child who benefits. We are grateful to the Ottes, their friends and family, and the continued contributions of the Gem City Kiwanis for this meaningful gift to our region.”

Grants were awarded to the following organizations:

Bella EaseCARES after-school program for at-risk 3rd and 4th grade Quincy students
Birthday BlessingsTo fill the funding gap between the needs of foster children and government funding in Northeast Missouri
Bluff City TheaterTo help fund the restart of the youth theater program
Chart Teen Task Force To allow for an expansion of current sexuality education in schools to address the topic of menstrual periods with youth girls
Clayton Public LibrarySupport for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) program for children 8 to 12 years of age
Cornerstone: Foundations for FamiliesComprehensive Youth Services program providing mental health counseling and advocacy services
Covered Bottoms Diaper BankDiapers for low income families/children
Embrace Children and FamiliesTo allow for the purchase of two sewing machines for use in teaching foster children sewing skills
Girl Scouts of Central IllinoisMembership assistance and camperships for girls in need of financial assistance
Horizons Social Services of Adams CountyWeekend meals for 50 low-income children for the Spring 2024 semester through the Kidz Pack program
Jackson – Lincoln Swimming Complex, Inc.Purchase inflatable target practice wall and water toys for the pool
John Wood Community College FoundationSupport for JDub Academy Summer Youth program by subsidizing transportation of students to and from program activities
John Wood Community College FoundationPurchase instructional supplies for students enrolled in the College for Life program
Junior Achievement of Greater St. LouisTo bring the Junior Achievement program to Lincoln Douglas students age kindergarten through 2nd grade
Liberty CUSD 2For enhanced scientific education opportunities for students at Liberty School District through The Travelling Science Center
Penny Denise Lewis FoundationTo purchase benches and basketball netting for the basketball courts of Frederick Ball Complex
Quincy Art CenterFor visual arts education for Grade K – 3rd students in Adams County through the stARTing with Art Program
Quincy Children’s MuseumAssist in funding the Ready Set Grow program for Adams County children and families
Quincy Community TheatreFinancial assistance for students participating in Triple Threat Boot Camp and student theater programs
QUEST StablesTo provide therapeutic horse-riding scholarships for children with cognitive, mental, and physical challenges and/or limitations
Quincy Public LibraryTo provide laptops and iPads for the Mobile Library
Quincy Public SchoolsWater therapy services for QPS special education/Cross Cat students
Quincy Symphony Orchestra AssociationTuition scholarship for low-income participants in Youth Choir and Youth Orchestra and for the purchase of printed music
Salvation Army Kroc Center of QuincyPurchase materials for new classes for children, including Kids Art Days, Kids STEM project activities, Toddler Sensory open play times, etc.
The Child Advocacy Center of Northeast Missouri, Inc.Support child abuse prevention and awareness programs through school based and community education
The PHAST FoundationFor building materials and labor costs for a new indoor bike park in downtown Quincy
Transitions of Western IllinoisPurchase new rocking chairs for use by autistic students in the high school classroom of Transitions School
United Way of Adams CountyUtility assistance for low-income families with children
YMCA of West Central IllinoisAssist in funding the Kids Fit program

The Community Foundation builds permanent charitable funds to assist area nonprofits and communities.

Its mission, “Connecting people who care with causes that matter,” is achieved by gathering funds, growing them through investments, then granting to nonprofit organizations, causes or communities that mean the most to its donors.   

The Community Foundation has made more than $18 million in grants since 1997. It serves 12 counties: Adams, Brown, Hancock and Pike in Illinois and Clark, Lewis, Marion, Ralls, Pike, Knox, Shelby and Monroe in Missouri.  

The Community Foundation has IRS 501(c)(3) status, and contributions made to the Community Foundation generally qualify for the maximum allowable deductions for income and estate tax purposes. 

For more information, call 217-222-1237, email or go to

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