Eagle Foundation soars

Foundation works to improve lives of youth through mentorship

Learning Center: Members of the Eagle Foundation, the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce, students who attend the nonprofit, and community members celebrate the opening of the Eagle Foundation's new learning center in El Dorado. The center opened in September of this year.
Learning Center: Members of the Eagle Foundation, the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce, students who attend the nonprofit, and community members celebrate the opening of the Eagle Foundation's new learning center in El Dorado. The center opened in September of this year.

Editor’s note: The SHARE Foundation recently announced grants to 11 area nonprofits focused on intervention and prevention of crime and violence through the foundation’s Union County Violence Intervention Plan (VIP). This story is part of a series of articles highlighting the programs funded, at least in part, with those grants.

Union County has dozens of nonprofits and programs working to improve the lives of residents, but even with those extensive efforts, there persists gaps in care, services and opportunities. Standing in those gaps is the focus of the Eagle Foundation, and executive director Jennifer Wylie said the nonprofit is focused on providing holistic mentoring to young people in the community.

“We don’t exist to stand alone,” she said. “The reason this was founded was because we know there are gaps and we want to identify and fill those gaps to free other organizations and schools to do what they do best without distractions. The gaps we see in particular are literacy and school performance, as well as character development — the integrity of character.”

The Eagle Foundation recently celebrated a new learning center in El Dorado, located at 411 N. Murphy Ave., which currently accommodates the 22 students served by the foundation. The house was built in the 1950s by Curtis A. and Polly Kinard and housed their business, KinArk Oil Company, for several years before they gave the house to their son Curtis and his wife Sarah in 1967. The home was “as a place of love and security for the Kinards, their children, grandchildren, extended family, and wonderful friends for over 50 years,” according to the Eagle Foundation’s website.

The organization has received a SHARE Foundation VIP grant the past three years.

“Mentoring, for us, is not necessarily a program; it’s a mindset,” Wylie said. “No matter what we do, no matter what kinds of programs we offer, we always want those working on behalf of the Eagle Foundation to act as mentors to the students they are serving, to be very intentional about building relationships of trust. We want those relationships to be continual, so that we are not only reaching students, but seeing them over time and helping them grow. Our mission is to help boys and girls grow to become the men and women they are meant to be.”

The foundation accomplishes this through an after-school program that focuses on academic tutoring, character development and discipleship. The nonprofit also assists the Boys & Girls Club in its after-school programs.

“A lot of us are parents, and we are trying to stand in the gap for other parents who need help; a lot of these kids are in single-parent homes,” Wylie said. “But even if you are in a home that is very structured and loving, you still need mentors.”

The $32,000 grant from the SHARE Foundation will assist the nonprofit in expanding the Relationships that Matter mentoring program. Wylie said the grant was crucial to the Eagle Foundation’s mission.

“We couldn’t do what we’re doing without significant financial help,” she said. “Because there is so much good in our community, even though there’s a lot of need, there’s a lot of people who are working to meet that need. The SHARE Foundation understands the importance in addressing the core needs in the community, and we couldn’t have gotten off the ground without their help.”

• About the grants: The SHARE Foundation recently announced grants to 11 area nonprofits focused on intervention and prevention of crime and violence through the foundation’s Union County Violence Intervention Plan (VIP). The grants, totaling $324,371, are the organization’s third round of VIP grants and 32nd round of grant awards overall. With the grant announcement, the SHARE Foundation has now given more than $8 million in grants and strategic initiatives to 91 different nonprofits operating in Union County, according to a press release from the organization. The grants fund items including operations, specific programs, software purchases and more.

SHARE’s VIP program began in 2018 and focuses on six areas: mentoring, re-entry, neighborhood watches/clean neighborhoods, parenting/life skills, jobs/targeted education, and mental health/substance and drug abuse.

For more details on the SHARE Foundation, visit the website at sharefoundation.com.

The foundation’s Violence Intervention Plan, its strategies and intended outcomes are available to review. Contact Debbie Watts, vice president of community impact at SHARE Foundation, at 870-881-9015 for more information or to get involved.

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