The Truman Heartland Community Foundation, which helps individuals make philanthropic donations, on Friday celebrated $341,429 in grants awarded to 63 area nonprofits.

The 23rd annual Grant Luncheon honored these recipients, most of which directly serve Eastern Jackson County. In total, educational organizations claimed $190,530 in grant awards, as compared with $90,499 in the health and welfare sector, $36,700 in arts and culture and $23,700 in community betterment.

Speakers emphasized the challenge of deciding what organizations to aid. This year, the foundation received 97 grant requests, a number that’s continued to climb since the program began.

“Our grants are investments in our area,” said Candy White, chair of the 2018 Grants Committee. “We look for great returns on that investment.”

The largest gift was $25,500 to the Community Services League to continue the Dr. Cliff and Patty Mohn Early Education Initiative, which provides early childhood education to more than 500 residents at Independence’s Hawthorne Place Apartments to focus on kindergarten readiness. The Drumm Farm Center for Children received $20,000 to help homeless youth and those aging out of foster care, equipping them with housing, life skills education and more.

The Blue Springs Daughters of the American Revolution, the Missouri College Advising Corps, Junior Achievement of Middle America and the School of Economics – which will expand summer-school programming for students from Blue Springs and Independence – each drew $15,000 in support.

Other recipients included: Angel Flight Central, Inc., Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater KC, Cancer Action, Inc., Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired, the Fort Osage School District, Happy Bottoms, Heritage Philharmonic, Hopebuilders Home Repair, Jackson County Court Appointed Special Advocates, the Jackson County Historical Society, Jewish Family Services, Marian Hope Center for Children’s Therapy, the Metropolitan Community Colleges Foundation, the Mid-Continent Public Library, Neighborhood Dinners, the NorthWest Communities Development Corporation, Peace Partnerships, the Powerhouse Theatre Foundation, the Puppetry Arts Institute, the Spirit of Independence Concert Band, the Truman Medical Center Charitable Foundation, University of Missouri -- Jackson County Extension and the Visiting Nurse Association.

“It’s a seal of approval,” Truman Heartland Community Foundation Phil Hanson said of the foundation’s grant-giving process.