Area groups in running for national grants

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Four Northeast Mississippi nonprofit agencies hope to pop open a piece of the $1.3 million in grants that Pepsi is giving away each month.
The Autism Center of Tupelo, Pontotoc County Habitat for Humanity and NMMC Cancer Center Barbershop outreach program are among nearly 1,100 projects competing for grants in the national Pepsi Refresh Project this month.
Tupelo Neighborhood Leadership Program has submitted for the April voting.
“It’s all about how we can make a difference,” said Bobby Bryant, regional sales manager for Pepsi.
Based on Internet voting, each month Pepsi will fund the top 10 finishers in groups vying for $5,000 grants, $25,000 grants and $50,000 grants.
The company will fund up to two grants in the $250,000 category each month. People can vote for 10 different projects every day.
If an organization makes the top 100, it will roll over to the next month’s voting.
On Friday morning, the nonprofit agency advocates, city and regional elected officials – including U.S. Rep. Travis Childers, Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed Jr. and Pontotoc Mayor Jeff Stafford – gathered at Tupelo City Hall in an effort to get out the vote.
“I applaud these organizations for looking at innovative ways to get funding,” said Reed.
The Autism Center of Tupelo would put a $50,000 grant to work offering one-on-one intervention for children with autism. Much of the grant would pay professional salaries for the center. The rest would go to educational materials.
Pontotoc County Habitat for Humanity would put a $50,000 grant to work renovating a donated building into warehouse and office space. The grant would be used to add heating, air conditioning and insulation and lighting.
NMMC Cancer Center would use a $5,000 grant to supplement its efforts to expand its Barbershop outreach program, which educates barbers on prostate and colon cancer screening so they can talk to their clients. The program, which has been successful in Lee County, is expanding to Lowndes, Alcorn, Pontotoc, Itawamba and Monroe counties this year.
As part of a collaboration between the Team Tupelo task force and the Neighborhood associations, the Tupelo Neighborhood Leadership Program would train youth and adults to be more effective in their neighborhoods, said Rubye Del Harden, who is the chairwoman of the mayor’s task force focused on improving the lives of the city’s residents.
Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1599 or

Pepsi Refresh Project
Four Northeast Mississippi groups are in the running for national Pepsi grants.
People have up to 10 votes a day, every day in the month. Agencies that are in the top 10 get funding. Agencies that are in the top 100 get another chance next month.

Click here to vote for the Autism Center of Tupelo –
Click here to vote for Pontotoc County Habitat for Humanity –
Click here to vote for the NMMC Cancer Center –

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