Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cincinnati's new matching grant program based on Seattle's

Cincinnati's Department of Community Development (DCD) has adopted best practices from a City of Seattle program to promote resident-driven, place-based projects in the City's neighborhoods.

Funding was approved for the Neighborhood Grants Program in the Office of the City Manager's 2010 budget. A community match of at least 20 percent of the project's cost would be required to leverage City money.*

The program is modeled on Seattle's Neighborhood Matching Fund Program, which since 1988 has awarded more than $45 million to 3,800 community projects, leveraging $68 million in matching funds and enlisting the help of more than 80,000 volunteers.

That program identifies residents and business owners as the most valuable resources in a neighborhood, arguing that they are the people best able to identify and solve localized problems.

Up to $4,000 for individual neighborhood projects or up to $6,000 for projects crossing neighborhood lines will be made available. The City anticipates funding 28-35 neighborhood groups per year through the program.

Money will be available to any nonprofit project that is resident-driven, implemented by volunteers, open to public participation, and beneficial to the neighborhood as a whole. These include neighborhood improvements; organizational development and capacity building; crime and public safety initiatives; and improvements in recreation, education, and cultural offerings.

Grant cycles end on March 5 and June 4. A scoring and ranking system will be used to choose winning first-round projects on May 15.

Building Cincinnati has been unable to verify, but a draft overview of the program said that a mandatory workshop about the Neighborhood Grants Program's application, review, and reporting process will be held on January 7 at 6 p.m. at DCD's Conference Room, Two Centennial Plaza, 805 Central Parkway.

* I wasn't able to find the exact number in the budget. However, between 28 and 35 projects at between $4,000 and $6,000, averaged out, comes out somewhere around $150,000. This would have to leverage at least $30,000 in community match

Previous reading on BC:
DCD develops action plan for GO Cincinnati report (12/3/09)
DCD will not increase number of properties eligible for rental rehab program (8/4/09)
Cincinnati DCD wants three new inspectors (3/11/09)
$110K, new staffer needed to administer neighborhood support funds (3/4/09)
Hartwell Armory site chained off (5/19/08)