City invests in resident resiliency, recovery through match fund

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The Grand Rapids African American Arts and Music Festival was one of nine organizations to receive a Neighborhood Match Fund grant. Courtesy city of Grand Rapids

The city of Grand Rapids announced $62,250 of total investments through nine contracts with local resident leaders as part of its Neighborhood Match Fund.

Neighborhood Match Fund contracts were awarded to:

  • Baxter Community Center for its Baxter Community Center Learning Hub: The hub provides educational opportunities, nutritious meals, and social and emotional activities for students whose parents work on different schedules or shifts. Through these offerings to students, parents can return to work knowing that their children are in a safe and nurturing environment.
  • Caring for Children of Color for a four-part virtual webinar series: The webinars will focus on hair care, skin care and cultural competency skills for families caring for children of color. The project also will focus on the importance of cultural representation for children of color in the community.
  • Healthy Homes Coalition of West MI for its Healthy Housing Healthy Kids Drive-Up Fair: This program will educate families regarding the dangers of lead hazards within some of the older housing stock, specifically focusing on the higher risk of lead in the southeast and southwest areas in Grand Rapids. The project will provide resources and direct support to people impacted by lead in their homes.
  • Hispanic Center of West Michigan for its Hispanic Center Food Distribution and Senior Food Box Program” The Hispanic Center of West Michigan will host a weekly food distribution center in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood. This project is partnering with a local delivery service provider of color to deliver food boxes to seniors and elders.
  • The Black Book Exchange Box for its project to build book exchange houses: The project also will partner with community leaders to expand the book exchange system into the Latino community with the launch of a Latinidad edition of book houses.
  • Grand Rapids Men’s Group to strategize and design a community event in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols: The event will celebrate the community, provide needed resources and information, and expand the reach and community work of the group.
  • Garfield Park Neighborhood Association for its Student Needs Pantry project: The pantry will provide access to food, hotplates, hygiene products, transportation (access to pantry), barber and salon services, laundry facilities and other community resources. The Students Needs Pantry will be available 24 hours each day for anyone who needs these items.
  • Grand Rapids Area Mutual Aid Network for its project in collaboration with Together We Are Safe and additional partners: The project aims to provide food and basic needs support to Grand Rapids residents who are the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Grand Rapids African American Arts and Music Festival for its annual event celebrating the outstanding contributions of African American artists through visual and performing arts: The event will follow COVID-19 safety protocols and serve as a space to connect with others, celebrate and support local businesses.

“These projects are excellent examples of community coming together to help one another, to create positive change and to lift up resident voices,” said Stacy Stout, director of the office of equity and engagement, which oversees the Neighborhood Match Fund. “COVID-19 has hit our community very hard. These projects offer support, resources and spaces to receive important information and supplies. Some also address emotional health by creating COVID-19 safe spaces to gather and be in and with community. It is always such an honor to review applications and see the impact of their work.”

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

Moving forward, the project lead from each approved application will meet one-on-one with the Neighborhood Match Fund team to create a shared understanding on project scope and the NMF contract requirements. Project leads and the Neighborhood Match Fund team also will discuss strategies for intentional and inclusive project outreach and impact.

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