Foundation Invests $250,000 in Grass-Roots Neighborhood Projects
Four months after asking Schenectady residents to come forward with their ideas for improving their neighborhoods, The Schenectady Foundation has announced that it will invest $250,000 into twelve projects through its new community development initiative – Schenectady’s Thriving Neighborhoods Challenge.
The projects range in focus and cost from $800 to spruce up the windows of abandoned buildings with canvas murals painted by children, to $55,000 to install a spray pad water feature at Woodlawn Park. Creating a sculpture park and art walk through Hamilton Hill, organizing neighborhood clean ups, establishing free book library boxes to promote literacy, and enhancing public areas with unique sculptural seating are other projects that will be supported.
“A clear theme emerged in the Neighborhood Challenge”, said Robert Carreau, executive director of the Foundation. “People want to change the appearance and environment of their neighborhoods. Four of the projects address the problem of trash and litter in the streets. It’s not just beautification and picking up waste. It’s about shifting the environment of the neighborhood, creating pride and bringing citizens together to address their needs and make change.”
Other citizen-led projects focused on displays of public art and creating educational and safe play spaces for children. PTO members and faculty at Howe Elementary, for example, will receive $11,500 to create a natural outdoor play space that helps children learn and be inspired by nature. The play space will be open to the public, as well as being utilized by school faculty for lessons.
The City of Schenectady is a partner in the Challenge, providing $100,000 in funding through its Community Development Block Grant program. In addition, City staff will provide technical assistance and support to many of the projects. Other investors include the Carlilian Foundation, the Wright Family Foundation, Neil & Jane Golub, Trustco Bank, MVP Health Care, Mark & Terri Little and The Schenectady Foundation.
“Schenectady’s Thriving Neighborhoods Challenge is an exciting new initiative that will help make our neighborhoods stronger, healthier, safer, greener, and more sustainable,” Mayor Gary McCarthy said. “We are proud to announce the investment of these twelve neighborhood revitalization projects and look forward to continuing our partnership with The Schenectady Foundation.”
The project entries were reviewed by a panel of twenty-five community members – the Thriving Neighborhoods Council. The Council’s recommendations then went to the Board of Directors of The Schenectady Foundation for final approval.
“It was a strong process” said Carreau. “The volunteers met with each applicant, and made sure that we understood what was being proposed and what the outcomes could be. They not only evaluated each project, but offered suggestions and resources to the applicants. It was a very positive and productive back and forth among the participants.”
Most projects will get underway in the spring of 2019 and conclude by the end of summer. Projects will be paired with a non-profit organization that can assist with purchasing materials, recruiting volunteers, and providing guidance and mentoring to project leaders.
The Foundation will host a meeting on Wednesday, January 30th at 4 pm at the Electric City Barn, 400 Craig Street, to help grant recipients understand the grant requirements, and to assist them in their next stages of planning.
“The Challenge has been successful well beyond our hopes,” said Carreau. “We have a lot to do to get these projects off the ground and completed. We’ll then focus our attention on launching a new Neighborhood Challenge before the end of the year.”
A summary of Challenge projects that have been awarded grants is attached to this news release.
The Schenectady Foundation is a public charity – a charitable trust established in 1963 to benefit the health and welfare of the people of Schenectady County, NY. Since inception the Foundation has distributed more than $23 million for community programs, organizations and scholarships. The Foundation’s current area of focus is revitalizing neighborhoods.