In its fall grant cycle, The Bakersfield Californian Foundation has awarded $144,954.45 to Kern County nonprofits focused on improving mental health and environmental education, as well as several involved in improving animal welfare and educational opportunities.

These organizations submitted proposals that "had a narrow focus and clear budget so the money could really make a difference," said Tracey Cowenhoven, foundation vice president.

"I'm very excited to hear that!" Independent Living Center of Kern County's resource development manager Christine Lollar said upon hearing Tuesday that the nonprofit had received grant money.

Lollar said one of the missions of the Independent Living Center is to provide cultural activities and awareness for people with disabilities. The grant funding will allow them to create a tactile art exhibit and hold art workshops for clients.

Lollar said people with disabilities sometimes tend to isolate themselves, but the workshops will allow them to express themselves and think about their creativity.

"Experiencing the freedom of choice can be given back through the experience of art," Lollar said.

Kim Albers, executive director of Flood Bakersfield Ministries, said the money the organization received will go toward funding incentive items for street outreach efforts. Basically, the incentive items -- snack bags, blankets, water bottles -- are used to get local homeless people into a conversation about getting long-term help and getting off the streets.

Albers said she was thrilled about receiving the grant.

Linda Hartman, executive director of the BARC Foundation, noted that many groups ask for money and said hers is privileged to have been selected. The money will support BARC programs, which have about 500 clients with various levels of disabilities.

BARC clients learn everything from how to run a cash register to working with tools and putting brochures together, Hartman said.

Here is the list of grant recipients and the amounts they received:

* American Lung Association, $15,000.

* BARC, $10,000.

* Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County, $7,500.

* California Living Museum, $16,800.

* Community Action Partnership of Kern, $8,276.

* Desert Area Resources & Training, $3,000.

* Flood Bakersfield Ministries, $5,000.

* Greater Bakersfield Green Expo, $2,500.

* Henrietta Weill Memorial Child Guidance Clinic, $10,676.45.

* Independent Living Center of Kern County, $3,702.

* Keep Bakersfield Beautiful, $4,000.

* Kern Economic Development Foundation, $25,000.

* Laze Memorial Soaring Foundation, $3,500.

* Legacy Behavioral Services, Inc., $10,000.

* Whiskers Paws Hooves and Claws Animal Advocacy, $20,000.

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