Dunbar and Banner Lake receive $750,000 in federal grant funds

Martin County commissioners allot money from federal government’s COVID-19 response

Dunbar Early Learning Center and Banner Lake Club of Hobe Sound have been awarded $750,000 in grant funding to improve the lives of the people they serve in the Banner Lake community.

Both organizations presented compelling visions to the Martin County Board of County Commissioners on how they would use the funds that were awarded to Martin County as part of the federal government’s COVID-19 response. Based on the strength of their proposals, Dunbar will receive a grant of $500,000, while Banner Lake will receive $250,000.

Children at the Dunbar Early Learning Center in Hobe Sound.

The United Way of Martin County managed the competitive process for the Martin County Board of County Commissioners to review and rank the proposals that were submitted by local nonprofit organizations, where the proposals from Dunbar and Banner Lake met with success.

“United Way of Martin County is proud to partner with the Martin County Board of County Commissioners in the managing, ranking and monitoring of the funds.” said Carol G. Houwaart-Diez, president & CEO. “Congratulations to Dunbar Early Learning Center and Banner Lake Club on being a part of this historic investment in Martin County.”

Dunbar Early Learning Center’s unique programs incorporate a variety of educational theories, while always keeping the child’s best interest in mind and allowing for hands-on, experiential learning. Dunbar will use the funds to make its facility a healthier, safer environment for children from birth to age five that attend the center’s program.

“We’re developing a premier educational experience for our children,” Executive Director Wendy Reynoso said. “We are committed to raising the level of education and our physical facility, so that we can continue to provide first-rate care.”

Among many improvements, flooring is at the top of the list. The existing carpet is more than 30 years old, and the building’s interior is starting to show its age.

Students in the classroom at the Banner Lake Academy in Hobe Sound.

The flooring throughout the center will be replaced thanks to the grant funds. Bathrooms will be renovated to make them safer, including the installation of hands-free fixtures, lighting and filtration to provide maximum sanitation in all areas. Educational technology including classroom upgrades and internet connection will be upgraded. Outside, a canopy will be constructed to shield the children from the sun’s rays while children learn and play.

“Our families are working hard to achieve the best life possible for their children. The pandemic made everything harder in their lives. Jobs were lost, gaps in education occurred and food insecurity grew,” Reynoso said. “We owe it to our families to make this setting as safe and welcoming as possible so our children can learn and grow socially, emotionally and academically.”

The Banner Lake Club will use the funds to renovate an addition to its popular Teen Center. It will provide a private area where the outreach coordinator can conduct individual and family counseling and also will add space for the soup kitchen, nutritional counseling, special events, the Banner Lake assistance program and the food pantry, which is conducted in partnership with the House of Hope.

“It’s important to have a private place for families to meet face to face with our staff and talk about needs and solutions,” Reynoso said. “We work with the other agencies and organizations in our community to support our families, and this space will enable us all to better serve our community.”

Inside one of the classrooms at the Dunbar Early Learning Center in Hobe Sound.

To show additional community support, Commissioner Harold Jenkins is providing $25,000 in matching District funds to enhance the efforts of both organizations.

“We feel incredibly grateful to the many individuals and organizations that are helping us transform our community,” Reynoso said. “Together we’re making a difference.”

About Dunbar Early Learning Center

The Dunbar Early Learning Center is a nonprofit organization founded in 1990 with the mission to provide care, education and promotion of the children and families within Martin County. Dunbar is dedicated to creating a nurturing, stimulating and welcoming environment for all children through its unique programs and a variety of educational theories while always keeping the child’s best interest in mind and allowing for hands-on, experiential learning. For more information, visit dunbarearlylearningcenter.org or call (772) 545-0808.

About Banner Lake Club Inc.

The Banner Lake Club (BLC) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for Hobe Sound residents, primarily those in need in the Banner Lake Community. BLC provides community and educational services including a free after-school and summer program called BLAST (Banner Lake After School Time) for children ages 5-18, as well as a new academy for students in kindergarten through third grade. BLC also has a teen program, a food pantry, a community café, a soup kitchen and a senior meals program that delivers meals to qualifying seniors. For more information visit bannerlake.org, call (772) 402-5167, email office@bannerlake.org or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bannerlakeclub.

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