FutureHeights to offer neighborhood mini-grant program

FutureHeights, in partnership with the City of Cleveland Heights, is launching a neighborhood mini-grant program for Cleveland Heights residents. FutureHeights will award grants of up to $1,000 to neighborhood-based groups.

“Our goal is to help neighbors leverage their many assets and provide tools to enable them to strengthen their neighborhoods,” said Richard Stewart, president of the FutureHeights Board of Directors. “Having a little bit of seed money for a project can make a big difference.”

The grants are part of FutureHeights’s Community Capacity-Building Program, which the organization launched this year. The program, funded by FutureHeights members and by the city through Community Development Block Grant funds, includes training for neighborhood leaders through a series of workshops, one-on-one mentoring and support, public forums on key topics—such as the Understanding Policing forum held in May—and small grants.

Fourteen residents completed the workshops. The participants live in several Cleveland Heights neighborhoods—Noble, Forest Hill, Cain Park, Boulevard, Severance and East Fairfax. The workshops covered a variety of topics which will help them formulate a grant-eligible project.

“We have several principles that guide the program,” said Mark Chupp, an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences and chair of the FutureHeights Civic Engagement Committee, which is leading the sessions. “We believe that institutions lead best by stepping back and supporting residents and voluntary groups, and that everyday people have the power to do extraordinary things right where they live.”

The program takes an Assets Based Community Development approach, which means that it seeks to build upon a neighborhood’s strengths. “For example,” said Chupp, “the Cain Park neighborhood has this tremendous asset—Cain Park—that it can leverage and build upon. The Dog Project, in which residents came together to change a city law to enable dog walking in the park, is a good example of this. We also see residents of other neighborhoods, such as Noble, coming together to organize neighborhood cleanups and open houses. The small grants will give us a means to better support neighbor-led activities like these.”

Eligible projects must be neighborhood-specific. Groups must be comprised of neighborhood residents and stakeholders, and the project or event must be held in the same neighborhood.

All proposed projects must be planned and led by a group of at least three unrelated members of the neighborhood community, and at least one of those leaders must live in the neighborhood. Groups will be required to match 20 percent of the grant dollars either in outside funding or in-kind services, and to complete assessments and evaluation forms.

FutureHeights intends to award a total of $7,500 in grants through two grant application rounds, one in the fall and one in the spring. The first application deadline is Sept. 15. The second deadline will be announced by January 2016, if funds are still available.

FutureHeights will hold an information session about the grant and how to apply on Wednesday, July 29, at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A at the Lee Road Library. Interested residents are encouraged to attend. For more information, visit www.futureheights.org or contact FutureHeights at 216-320-1423 or info@futureheights.org.

Deanna Bremer Fisher

Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.

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Volume 8, Issue 7, Posted 4:26 PM, 07.01.2015