CAL marks 40 years of community grants

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Representatives from area nonprofits and organizations pose for a photo at a grants presentation program held by the Community Assistance League. CAL awarded 44 grants for a total of $105,000 to the groups on Wednesday. (Photo by MARY MALONE)

SANDPOINT — For 40 years, the Community Assistance League has supported the community through education, service and philanthropy.

As part of its mission, CAL provides grants to various organizations across the county each year, primarily in support of area youth.

“The grants go to things like in-school projects and programs, non-school projects and programs that still involve children,” said Bobbie Franklin, CAL grant chair, adding that some also go for child protection and feeding local youth.

CAL members honored this year’s recipients during their monthly meeting on Wednesday, presenting 44 grants for a total of $105,000.

Franklin said approximately 65 percent of the $105,000 went to the aforementioned youth programs, with the majority of the remaining 35 percent toward combating food insecurity in Bonner County.

“There is also in there some money for housing, trying to get people into stable homes,” she said. “We also have community enrichment programs like the dog park, the museum, the Panida Theater — those kinds of things.”

Other grants went to programs such as Food For Our Children, Bonner Community Food Bank, Kaniksu Land Trust, various youth sports and schools, among others.

The North Idaho High School Aerospace

Program was one of this year’s grant recipients. The program was recently donated an RV-6 aircraft that requires an engine replacement and wing modification. The group is purchasing a used engine for the RV-6 with the grant from CAL, said NIHSA’s pilot training and academic instructor Ken Larson. NIHSA also added drones to the program this year, which was made possible through grants from CAL as well.

“They have helped us every year — it’s been really great,” Larson recently told the Daily Bee.

CAL was implemented in 1979 by Sandpoint residents Sydne Van Horne, Marilyn Pagano, and Ginny Jensen. The initial CAL project was to sponsor the first ever girls’ state volleyball tournament held in Sandpoint. The charter members helped launch the Festival at Sandpoint and were involved in its production for the first two years. The group brought an “Afternoon Academy” to area schools, which offered enrichment classes in art, music and science. CAL also offered SAT readiness classes to Sandpoint High School students. The group also started the Kaleidoscope Art Enrichment Program in Bonner County schools, and in the early 1980s partnered with Schweitzer Resort to bring the Special Olympics to the area.

CAL has been offering grants and scholarships since the early years as well, and in recent years has given upward of $100,000 annually.

The grant application process opens in March each year, and the CAL grant committee evaluates each one and assigns a “value” to the project or program the organization is seeking funds for. The process culminates with the presentation of the grants in mid-May.

The primary fundraiser for the grants is through CAL’s upscale resale store, Bizarre Bazaar. The resale shop opened in March 2006, named after the groups annual jumble sale. The shop thrives from the support of people who shop there and those who donate their gently used items. CAL then contributes the profits from the shop directly back into the community via grants, as well as scholarships for local high school seniors, home-schooled students and students who received a CAL scholarship in 2018, as well as those who delayed their education.

Donations can be dropped off at Bizarre Bazaar, 502 Church St., Sandpoint.


Mary Malone can be reached by email at and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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