By Brandi McGrath Kong, Director of Member Services & Conferences
As a Sertoman, you likely know that we have made it our national mission to improve the quality of life today for those at risk or impacted by hearing loss through education and support. But did you also know that we have a network of more than 100 hearing health organizations and professionals who share in that same mission?
The Sertoma Adopt-An-Agency program has existed since 1977 to help Sertoma’s efforts to expand awareness about and impact individuals with communicative disorders. These 501(c)(3) nonprofit entities include school districts, hearing and speech clinics, support-service providers, hospitals, colleges/universities and more. More than 75% of Affiliates also have a direct relationship with a local Sertoma club thanks to the club’s sponsorship with Sertoma’s national organization. For example:
- The Alaska State School for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing and Mat-Su School District are both sponsored by the Mat-Su Sertoma Club.
- Sertoma’s “mother” club, the Kansas City Club, has proudly worked with Children’s Mercy Hospital as its sponsor since 1982.
- North Carolina Central University has had the sponsorship support of the James E. Shepard Sertoma Club for the last 35 years.
When an Affiliate joins the national Sertoma organization, they are given access to two grant programs that can help them broaden their impact in the community. Community Grants annually offer as much as $5,000 for qualifying hearing health programs and projects provided by the Affiliate directly. For instance, a past grant to the University of Iowa allowed its UI-SAFE program, a faculty-student educational effort promoting healthy hearing, to provide hearing loss prevention presentations to middle and high school music programs.
The Professional Education Grant program gives individual hearing health professionals and practitioners funding ($425 per organization each year) toward professional development education, such as a conference or training seminar. In the past these grants have done things like help a Nebraska audiologist attend the Academy of Doctors of Audiology annual conference and provide a special education teacher in Minnesota the opportunity to take online interpretation and sign language study classes.
Applications are now open for both grant programs. Community Grant applications must be submitted online no later than January 31 annually, while the Professional Education Grant applications remain open all year long (or until funding runs out for the fiscal year, which ends on June 30). Affiliates are encouraged to participate in the program, and sponsoring Sertoma clubs are asked to please share this information with their Affiliate partners.