City awards $64K in neighborhood grants

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Grandmas to the Rescue won a contract for a home garden project that includes installing raised garden beds and providing education on gardening, canning and agriculture business strategies for residents in the Burton Heights area. Courtesy city of Grand Rapids

The city of Grand Rapids awarded contracts to support nine projects that focus on COVID-19 resiliency and addressing the impacts of structural racism.

The investment was for the latest round of the city’s Neighborhood Match Fund. The nine grants totaled $64,000.

“These projects are excellent examples of community coming together to help one another, create positive change and to lift up residents’ voices,” said Stacy Stout, director of the Office of Equity and Engagement, which oversees NMF. “We are proud and thankful to invest in their efforts. It is always such an honor to review applications, be inspired by their community spirit and see the impact of their work.”

NMF awarded contracts

South East Market won an NMF contract for MLK Freedom School, a multipart series for residents on Grand Rapids’ southeast side to learn about past and present social movements, food justice and healthy eating, yoga and mindfulness, art and access to books related to topics covered.

Grandmas to the Rescue won a contract for a home garden project that includes installing raised garden beds and providing education on gardening, canning and agriculture business strategies for residents in the Burton Heights area. The goal is for households to grow their own food for immediate and future use.

3:11 Youth Housing and HQ both won contracts for a homeless youth awareness project that will create a youth-led multimedia educational campaign on youth homelessness across Kent County. The project will highlight youth ages 14-24 who were impacted by housing instability due to COVID-19 and offer resource information to help those with similar experiences.

Black Lives Matter Greater Grand Rapids and Justice for Black Lives won contracts for a murals project that will design and create two murals within the city. One mural will have a Black Lives Matter theme and serve as a message for justice. The other mural will honor the life and legacy of Breonna Taylor, who was born and raised in Grand Rapids and recently was killed by Louisville police.

Grand Rapids African-American Community Task Force won a contract for the GrassrootsUP project (#GRUp) that will gather data from multiple sources and stories of lived experiences to create a comprehensive report on the health and well-being of the Grand Rapids African American community. The report and corresponding online presence then will be the foundation for a series of digital community conversations and organizing efforts, including the ongoing need for COVID-19 education and resources within the community.

Mental Health Clinicians of Color in Grand Rapids earned a contract to assist in decreasing the stigma of mental health, increasing the visibility of local clinicians of color and assisting with funding for the organization to become certified in research-based treatments specialties and increasing the use of mental health services in communities of color.

The Growth Center Inc. won a contract for Grace Cares, which will coordinate a communitywide giveaway of household toiletries, cleaning supplies and personal needs items to help combat COVID-19 and prepare for the upcoming flu season.

SECOM Resource Center won a contract for Community Connection, a series of monthly volunteer experiences designed to empower youth to engage with and assist people with disabilities and senior citizens through service projects such as raking leaves, removing snow from walkways and other physical distancing activities.

Lastly, Grand Rapids Area Mutual Aid Network won a contract to provide food and basic need support to Grand Rapids residents who are the most vulnerable during the COVID 19 pandemic.

Each project is led or co-led by a Grand Rapids resident. All applications were reviewed for completeness and alignment to NMF objectives and current COVID-19 resiliency and justice priorities.

The approved ideas moved forward in the contracting process by having each project lead meet one on one with the NMF team to create shared understanding on project scope and NMF contract requirements and discuss strategies for intentional and inclusive project outreach and impact.

The city will accept project ideas for the next NMF round of funding Dec. 1-31. Grand Rapids residents and community-based organizations may apply online. Approved projects need to take place in Grand Rapids between March 1, 2021, and Aug. 31, 2021.

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