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Q&A with Karen Wolfe, Program Specialist with Precinct 2’s Grants & Nonprofits Division

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1. Describe the purpose of the Precinct 2’s Grants & Nonprofits Division and your role.

The Grants & Nonprofits Division supports the residents of Precinct 2 by building partnerships and developing resources that help fund multi-generational programs across the precinct. We work with other departments to add to their budgets so they can do more.

The great thing about grants and corporate partnerships is they force you to prove your program will do what you set out to do. If you say you are going to alleviate hunger with their funding, the grantor makes you show who you fed, how many meals, how nutritious. Are they veterans? Are they impoverished? Do they live in an underserved area? You have to prove how you’re making the community better. When you’re finished, it’s like having a really good research report done.

I have written dozens of grant proposals the last two years, more than I had written before in my entire 20+ year nonprofit career! It is always exciting to work with a program director to create a brand new program. We use the requirements of a grant as a formula to see if we can develop something new to help people or solve a problem in our community. 

2. What are some of the major projects you are working on this summer?

We are in the middle of Beat the Heat, a great partnership with Reliant/NRG. With their support, we are giving away 100 portable AC units to vulnerable seniors whose homes do not have central air. Next year, we need to find more funding so we can help more people stay cool since extreme heat is really dangerous and we have so many people who live in older homes. This summer, we will also see the ribbon cutting of Partnership Park in Pasadena. Shell Deer Park gave Precinct2gether $300,000 to install broadband for the neighborhood and Chevron paid for solar lighting to make it safer at night.

One thing I’m working on that is probably not very exciting to other people is creating systems with my team that make us more efficient and effective. We are planning to launch a new grants management software program soon that will track our services and programs and help us stay on top of data. 

3. What division accomplishment or milestone makes you most proud? 

In our department, we celebrate every accomplishment from winning a $5,000 grant to doubling the revenue of Precinct2gether—which we did last year. And this may sound boring to some, but I am super excited that we are about to launch WizeHive! It’s a grants management computer program. We have been working on it for 8 months with the help of IT and Universal Services.

4. What is the best part about your job?

The best part of my job is getting to know business leaders and philanthropists who are excited about Commissioner Garcia’s vision for making life better for the residents of Precinct 2. 

5. What is your favorite place to visit in Precinct 2 and why?

My favorite place in Precinct 2 is theKaila Sullivan Chapel & Hall. It’s a gem. The sunsets outside are absolutely amazing! The Parks Department did a beautiful job landscaping there. Coming from Los Angeles, I enjoy things some Houstonians take for granted and would probably find silly. I cannot believe how many kinds of birds visit--Blue Jays, Red Winged Black Birds, Cardinals, Heron, Hawks, Great Egrets and on and on. It’s like watching a wildlife documentary. 

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Photo of sunset by the KailaSullivan Chapel taken by Karen.