The Clearinghouse project has been awarded a $44,700 federal grant as crews continue renovating the building's lower level.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the grant to the Clearinghouse two weeks ago, Project Director Molly Dodge reported during a monthly Clearinghouse Project Planning Meeting on Tuesday.

River Valley Resources, which began the Clearinghouse project, started seeking the grant in 2010. In addition to the USDA grant, the Clearinghouse will receive a $900 grant from the Schroeder Foundation.

Dodge said the Clearinghouse renovation project has slowed somewhat during phase two of construction, which has focused mainly on the food pantry to be located in the building's lower level.

She expects the food pantry to open in late summer and the entire building to be renovated by early next year.

"It's getting it done right versus getting it done fast," Dodge said.

Once the food pantry is complete, it will be maintained and funded by faith-based organizations across Jefferson County. So far, seven churches have signed on for what is being called the House of Hope food pantry, and Dodge said the Clearinghouse planning committee will continue recruiting other churches to join the pantry.

Committed churches include: Calvary Baptist Church, Faith Alliance Church, First Baptist Church, Madison Assembly of God Church, Madison Presbyterian Church, North Madison Christian Church and Trinity United Methodist Church.

Bill Barnes, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County, said Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann commended the collaboration of House of Hope during a recent visit to Madison.

"You kind of have to remind yourself how big and amazing something like this is," Barnes said.

The first floor of the Clearinghouse will include offices for participating nonprofits: WorkOne, Centerstone, LifeSpring Mental Health Services, Jefferson County Community Corrections, the administrative office for Pathways Youth Shelter and Family Services, Region 15 Child Advocacy Center, River Valley Resources, Turning Point and the United Way of Jefferson County.

Also at the meeting:

• Barnes reported that the Community Foundation will open the doors of its former location at 214 E. Main St. to nonprofits interested in purchasing furniture that was left behind when the foundation moved its office to the former City Hall building.

Barnes said money raised from the sale, which is schedule from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on June 26 for local nonprofits, will be go toward future grant awards.

• Barnes also announced Tuesday that the Community Foundation will award "House of Hope" $1,000 to help begin the food pantry.