Two Santa Rosa County nonprofits had cause to celebrate last weekend after winning IMPACT 100 grants from the Pensacola Bay philanthropy organization.
Navarre Beach Marine Science Station and Santa Rosa County Creek Indian Tribe Inc. were among the 10 winners that received $108,200 from IMPACT 100 at its annual meeting Sunday.
"This was the first time we applied — and we won," said Marine Science Station board member Amy Cozart, who wrote the grant application. "We are thrilled."
The Marine Science Station is the first Navarre-based organization to be recognized by the Pensacola Bay IMPACT 100. The grant will be used to develop the "Discovery Depot," a mobile, interactive science center that takes the mission of the nonprofit on the road with touch tanks and exhibits to teach kids the importance of protecting the beach and the marine ecosystem. They hope to have the mobile center running by April.
"It's more effective than hanging a poster up," Cozart said. "We want to get kids inspired. We'll be able to bring this festivals and schools that can't make it to the station."
As an eighth-grade science teacher, Cozart appreciates the hands-on experience kids can have with the Marine Science Station.
"What I love is that it gets them engaged about the environment and they learn that they are part of the solution," she said.
Chief Thomas Nichols said the Santa Rosa County Creek Indian Tribe was "tickled to death" to find out they had won their second IMPACT 100 grant. The money will fund a Native American Cultural Center to house more than 3,000 Native American artifacts and act as a space for seminars and performances to celebrate the Native American culture in the county.
"We want to bring back the culture and heritage," said Nichols, who has been chief for about 25 years. "It was outlawed to be an Indian in 1830. Our people had to hide our culture ... they hid in the woods. They had homes which were taken away from them."
Nichols said the IMPACT 100 team was great to work with. And because of the organization more people can learn about the rich Native American history in Northwest Florida.
"We want to share what we have with the community," he said. "When the language dies, the people die. We're keeping the culture alive."