Most charities aim to make a difference in their communities, but Community Partnership of the Ozarks Inc. also works to help other charities as well.
Janet Dankert, president and CEO, says CPO tries to tackle a variety of issues, such as child abuse and neglect, lack of access to childhood education, poverty and health concerns.
But CPO can’t address all these issues on its own. It relies on working with other community groups to help make change become a reality when addressing constantly emerging issues.
In its 26-year history, CPO has helped launch such initiatives as Rare Breed Homeless Youth Drop-in Shelter, the Tooth Truck, One Door and Prosper Springfield, which aims to reduce local poverty to 20 percent by 2025.
“Not every program that is created under our umbrella needs to stay with us, and that’s part of the uniqueness of our organization’s mission,” Dankert says.
“We’re very community driven and if it makes sense for someone else to take charge, then we’re going to sit back and let them do that. But if it makes sense for it to stay under us, then we are going to take responsibility for that, too, and we’re going to do it well.”
CPO also took a large part in obtaining a $1 million Darr Family Foundation/Community Foundation of the Ozarks/Musgrave Foundation grant to help increase and improve early childhood programs in the area. CPO brought almost $300,000 in grant funds from the Missouri Foundation for Health to create Connect Springfield, a comprehensive data system helping under-resourced residents reach self-sufficiency.
Besides bringing in grant dollars and funding to the area, helping people change their lives makes a considerable economic impact to the area, Dankert says.
“If we’re helping people find better jobs, create financial stability through opening checking accounts, banking accounts and saving money, we’re helping the local economy,” she says.
Helping people reach financial stability is the aim of the O’Reilly Center for Hope, which was recently announced by CPO.
“It’s going to be our new housing center,” she says. “It’s a one-stop center where we’ll have multiple services on-site. It is targeting homeless individuals and families, but also serving the general public.”
The project will offer classes on first-time home buying, aid in finding affordable housing and help for those seeking financial stability.
In 2017, CPO had 8,771 volunteers who donated more than 48,000 hours to help CPO meet its mission. CPO also has at least 55 staff members, as well as the community leaders on CPO’s board, Dankert says.
“That has helped us stay on track over the years, expand and be the lead organization that we are,” she says. “We couldn’t be who we are without them, and I think that’s key.”
Ariake Sushi and Robata opened; Great Southern Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: GSBC) opened its newest branch in Springfield; and a longtime employee with City Utilities of Springfield went into business for himself with the launch of Van Every Drafting & Design LLC.