By Lori Wince for This Week Community News

The New Albany Community Foundation has issued approximately $500,000 in grants since February for several community programs.

“I believe the foundation’s support for local nonprofit organizations, as well as programs such as the (Jeanne B.) McCoy (Community) Center’s performance series, school author and lecture series, is essential to the success and sustainability of these programs,” said Craig Mohre, executive director of the foundation.

“That’s why we try to recognize the foundation donors at every opportunity, because without their support, many of these enriching, sometimes transformational programs would not exist without their support and generosity.”

The latest round of grants includes:

* $320,000 for the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts in support of programming.

* $78,480 — a gift from Commercial Vehicle Group — to purchase a grand piano for the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts.

* Up to $15,000 from the Carolyn and Lance White Fund for the New Albany-Plain Local School District to bring author Rosalind Wiseman to the district last April.

* $5,000 for the New Albany-Plain Local School District to fund professional development.

* $3,600 from the Helena McComb Memorial Fund to support the New Albany Arts Council’s junior Broadway production of The Little Mermaid.

“Tiney McComb established the Helena McComb Memorial fund in memory of his late wife to support vocal music opportunities for youth.,” Mohre said.

Since McComb also has died, his daughter, Cam McComb, now directs grants from the fund, Mohre said.

* Two $2,000 scholarship grants from the New Albany Women’s Network fund for two New Albany High School seniors.

Leigha Anthony, 17, was chosen for “her exceptional service over the past six years with Victory Ministries, a nonprofit organization that provides services to the most underprivileged neighborhoods in Columbus,” according to the New Albany Women’s Network.

“My family and I participated in a holiday drive, in which gift baskets were provided to elders on assisted living,” Anthony said. “Throughout my childhood, I had donated to the toy drive and helped at the food kitchen, but the holiday gift baskets became a tradition.

“Although my family never had much money growing up, we always offered our time and care. We fill boxes with essential foods — fresh produce, meats, breads — and we distribute the boxes to assisted living facilities in downtown Columbus.”

Anthony, said she learned community service from her parents, Linda and Jeff Anthony.

“It is them that I can thank for my love for community service and giving, as well as my character that I have developed thus far,” she said. “It is the community of New Albany and the New Albany-Plain Local School District that I can thank for my drive and ambition.”

Anthony served as president the Envirothon Club and she plans to study business and environmental science this fall at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

“Without this scholarship, going to an expensive, out-of-state university like Boulder would not be possible,” she said. “This was my dream school, and I have worked hard in high school to get there.”

Devon Pitts, 17, was chosen for “his work with World War II veterans, which culminated in writing a book about their experiences.

Pitts also organized a fundraiser (in 2011) to support a peer who is battling cancer,” according to the New Albany Women’s Network.

Pitts said he interviewed eight veterans and recorded their stories for the book, which he used for his senior seminar project, a graduation requirement at New Albany High School.

The veterans are: Harold Rogers, Hurley Graham, Charles Hill, Ed Kaplan and Joe Straka of Dublin; James Abraham of Gahanna; and Alfred Kame’eiamoku and Robert Kinzler of Honolulu.

His fundraiser supported fellow basketball player Kyhir James, who has been battling follicular lymphoma.

James was a sophomore in July 2011 when the fundraiser was held at Eagle’s Villa Pizza. Former Ohio State basketball players David Lighty, Evan Turner and Dallas Lauderdale attended and $3,869.43 was raised for James and his family.

“Kyhir returned to school last year and is doing better,” Pitts said.

Pitts is the son of Carol Pitts. In addition to basketball, he was a member of men’s choir all four years of high school.

He said he plans to attend Denison University in the fall.

The New Albany Women’s Network has given scholarships worth $2,000 annually to high school seniors since 2005.

All New Albany High School seniors are eligible to apply for the scholarships. Students must submit an application, including letters of recommendation and an essay about their community service work, how they’ve contributed to the community and learned leadership skills.

Mohre said a committee of foundation board members reviews grant requests and makes recommendations to the full board for approval.

“When the donors establish their funds, they stipulate the purpose of the fund,” Mohre said. “Some prefer the purpose to be broader, so they can support any number of causes in the community. Others may prefer to define the purpose of their fund more narrowly.

“We typically consult with the fund donors before making grants from their funds to ensure that it is consistent with the donor’s intent.”