Locals with good neighborhood improvement ideas can apply for $1,000 grants

Locals with good neighborhood improvement ideas can apply for $1,000 grants

If you’ve got some solid ideas on projects to improve your neighborhood, they might very well get funded thanks to the new Love Your Block grant program.

Residents and community groups are encouraged to apply between Oct. 26 and Dec. 11 for one of up to 10 $1,000 community transformation grants. These particular grants are aimed at projects that address blight and improve quality of life in the Parchester Village and North Richmond neighborhoods. Ideas include installing a tool lending library, mural, community garden and really everything in between.

The $1,000 grant would cover supplies and materials needed for the project, and you would receive help from professionals on gathering volunteers and coordinating city services.

As we reported in February, Richmond was named as one of seven U.S. cities to win a three-year, $30,000 Love Your Block grant, as well as guidance from an expert on leveraging  volunteers, nonprofits and local businesses on improvement projects.

The 10 projects being offered between Oct. 26 and Dec. 11 are part of an initial cycle, with awards set to be disbursed in January 2016. Additional grants will be offered in the future, and the program’s goal is to expand to other parts of Richmond.

Love Your Block is a program by Cities of Service, a national non-profit founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The program is credited with clearing Pittsburgh’s streets of 34,927 pounds of litter and creating 256 green spaces. The city did so by leveraging about $559,160 in donations and organizing 4,865 volunteers. Meanwhile, Flint, Mich., revitalized 120 blocks between 2012 and last year by creating 173 green spaces, improving 400 blighted properties and removing 3.9 million pound of trash, brush and waste, according to the program.

“Love Your Block is an invitation to do something that you would have otherwise not had an opportunity to do,” said Kiana Ward, Americorps VISTA working on Love Your Block initiative. “It’s so easy to go about your day to day life never thinking about how you can improve something that has been an eyesore for years and these grants can be the impetus to addressing whatever problem it is you’ve been staring out for so many years.”

Cities of Service has done significant work in Richmond in the past, as they awarded the city with $100,000 in grant money to  improve Richmond students’ writing and literacy skills through programs like the WriterCoach Connection.