Great Charity Challenge Is Putting $1.3 Million To Work Supporting The Community

The winners of the 2020 Great Charity Challenge celebrate.

Forty-nine Palm Beach County nonprofits are putting their collective $1.3 million in donations to use following their participation in Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s 11th annual Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments, held on Feb. 1.

The GCC has become a highlight of the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival, organized by Equestrian Sport Productions, and has distributed $14.8 million to 256 local organizations since its founding in 2010.

With reports compiled highlighting how each benefiting nonprofit organization plans to further their mission with the use of their earnings, the final numbers are in: 202,806 lives will be directly impacted following this year’s event. This is made possible thanks to the contributions of 69 sponsors, donors and partners.

“Nonprofit organizations have an ‘optimized way’ of stretching the impact of a dollar,” Mark Bellissimo said. “We are inspired to see their intended fund use reports and the number of lives that will benefit from their efforts.”

With grants ranging from $1,000 to $150,000, funding will assist with everything from providing financial stability to guaranteeing that the ones most at risk will not be left behind, to expanding existing programs and launching new ones in the community, as well as bridging the funding gap between government grants and fundraising.

“We are very grateful for the generous support of our donors,” event co-founder Paige Bellissimo said. “This event is a true team effort. We couldn’t do it without their vision, leadership and belief that change happens at the local level. Many of them have been with us for many years, highlighting their genuine belief in giving back to the local community.”

Here are a few examples of the funds at work:

For Vita Nova’s drop-in center, “the Spot,” the $100,000 in funding received through the Great Charity Challenge will provide intake and assessment services for 200 homeless and disconnected youth. In addition, youth will be connected to medical and wellness services, educational opportunities including access to an on-site GED program, and case managers who partner with youth to establish and achieve goals related to employment and reducing homelessness.

The Step by Step Foundation received $30,000. This directly reflects 5,000 backpacks, pencils, rulers, glue sticks and more to be distributed to Palm Beach County children, plus personal hygiene products and basic necessities for vulnerable individuals, all in partnership with local nonprofits.

For Back to Basics, the math is simple: $25,000 equates to at least 2,500 new school uniforms, all of which will enable children to go to school with dignity and be ready to learn. The funds received will enable them to grow the uniform program and extend its reach to eight additional middle schools with children living at or below the poverty level.

Urban Youth Impact was one of five nonprofit organizations that benefited from the generosity of the Ziegler Family Foundation, receiving a $10,000 grant. Funding will assist them in empowering 200 inner city youth through their programs, such as through “ReFrame,” a job training program.

For HomeSafe, the lucky recipient of a Social Media Advertising Grant valued up to $18,000 presented by Great Charity Challenge partner and local digital agency Achieve, the next six months will be spent developing new campaigns to help further their important mission of protecting victims of child abuse and domestic violence, as well as reach new supporters in the community.

The GCC encourages nonprofits to take a sustainable approach by awarding unrestricted funding, giving nonprofits the ability to choose exactly how the grant will be best utilized to align with their long-term strategy. Donations are released upon a thorough review of their intended fund use plans. Complementary quarterly reports will also update donors and the community at large of the progress/achievements being made locally.

“This strategy fully aligns with our 2020-30 vision,” GCC Executive Director Anne Caroline Valtin said. “Over the last 10 years, we have witnessed first-hand that change happens at the local level. Our commitment for the decade to come is to further promote capacity building, enabling and bolstering invaluable partnerships, as well as concentrating on amplifying the event’s impact.”

All benefiting organizations will be reporting their progress quarterly. For the latest news, the 2021 application process and sponsorship opportunities, visit