Texas Council on Family Violence grants funds to assist local shelter

  • Gloria Aguilera Terry
    Gloria Aguilera Terry

The Texas Council on Family Violence’s (TCFV) 2020 Swalm Grants, totaling $250,000, are being awarded to 22 domestic violence agencies across Texas, including Family Services of Southeast Texas, as they deal with the economic hardship and increased violence caused by COVID-19. Individual grants range from $2,250 to $15,000 and come from TCFV’s Swalm Endowment Fund.

Swalm grantees are selected annually in a competitive application process by at-large TCFV board members who are ineligible to apply themselves. This year, priority was given to applicants that specified a need related to COVID-19 or a service area highlighted in the Texas State Plan, a report TCFV published in 2019 to identify the biggest gaps in domestic violence services.

“I’ve never seen a greater time of need for domestic violence victims and agencies than the one COVID-19 has induced,” said CEO of TCFV Gloria Aguilera Terry. “Texas has experienced an increase in domestic violence hotline calls during the pandemic, and we know that economic distress hinders victims from leaving life-threatening relationships. This year, agencies’ needs were so great that TCFV awarded more Swalm Grants than usual, and each amount was given with the hope and expectation that it would save Texas lives.”

Of the 22 grants awarded, 13 will be used for infrastructure projects, two will be dedicated to improving prevention services and seven will be purposed for flexible funding, which includes covering costs of childcare, legal services, past (and frequently forced) debt, evictions and rent. As a Swalm Grant recipients, local domestic violence agency Family Services of Southeast Texas received $10,000 from the TCFV. Their funds will be dedicated to “flexible funding,” which, TCFV explained, can include covering costs of childcare, legal services, forced debt, evictions, rent and other essential client needs.

To track the direct impact of Swalm Grants, TCFV requires every recipient to submit a report at the end of the grant cycle detailing their use of the funds and its effect on survivors.

“We assisted 59 victims of domestic violence during our grant period,” said, Conny Steele, interim director of Highland Lakes Family Crisis Center in Marble Falls, a 2019 Swalm Grant recipient that used funds to help survivors pay for essential needs. “We assisted clients with utilities, housing, transportation, school supplies, clothing, medicine, birth certificates, legal fees, vehicle registration, ID cards, car repairs and phone bills.”

About Swalm Grants

In 2005, the Swalm Family of Houston and New Ulm, Texas, gifted TCFV an endowment fund of $5,000,000 to benefit domestic violence service providers in Texas. Annually, the Finance Committee of the Board of TCFV determines a percentage to be distributed in Swalm Grants. That percentage is then allocated among the grant recipients – selected by TCFV’s Board – based on the needs described in their applications.

In accordance with the Swalm family’s wishes, each grant given must be large enough to impact the community, and applicants must be organizations whose primary focus is serving victims of domestic violence. The grants are designed to fund categories of operations not usually covered by government grants. Agencies are not allowed to apply for Swalm Grants two consecutive years in a row.

About Texas Council on Family Violence

Texas Council on Family Violence is the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit coalition in Texas dedicated solely to creating safer communities and freedom from family violence. With a statewide reach and direct local impact, TCFV, with the collective strength of more than 1,300 members, shapes public policy, equips service providers and initiates strategic prevention efforts. Visit TCFV online at http://www.tcfv.org/.