Last week, Council passed a resolution awarding the 2022 Neighborhood Grant Program funds to seven organizations in Madison. The Neighborhood Grant Program provides small grants to help neighborhoods beautify gateways, create public gathering places, or build organizational capacity and leadership skills. Since its beginning in 1999, the program has funded over 250 projects, many of which have engaged new and diverse communities, increased community and neighborhood influence on public decisions and community life, and brought widespread impact to neighborhood areas.

The grant program provides funding, but the ideas, determination, and pride of neighbors and community groups are behind the most successful projects. In 2020, Ujamaa Business Association (now Ujamaa Business Network) used its grant to more than double their membership and engage entrepreneurs of color in professional development, networking, and retail opportunities. According to founder Tara Wilhlemi, “As a new organization, securing funding and support from more traditional sources can be very challenging. The City of Madison’s Neighborhood Grant Program was the first to believe in us and give us a chance. We have taken this one opportunity and leveraged it to continue to create capacity and opportunities for Black Business and Entrepreneurs. Our network is a growing and important resource and connecting point.”

The 2022 awardees include two non-profits and five neighborhood associations to support a variety of different capacity building and community enhancement projects. For example, Rooted WI, Inc. will use its grant to increase visibility of Troy Farms by installing a new gateway entrance and sign, and they will broaden participation in their multi-cultural community meals by reaching out to the surrounding Lerdahl Park and Vera Court Neighborhoods. Meals will feature Troy Farm produce and fare from local chefs who prepare low- or no-cost meals from a variety of cultural backgrounds (Native American, Moroccan, Korean, Sudanese, and Gambian).

In other examples, Southwest Madison Action Coalition will use its 2022 grant to improve communication among neighborhood and community-based groups, enhance awareness of community events and organizations, and host leadership and capacity building workshops. Junction Ridge Neighborhood Association will host a festival on Independence Day where people of different cultural backgrounds will display their food, arts, and activities, and recruit new association members, and Marquette Neighborhood Association, Inc. will create a database and audio stories of its array of public art.

In addition to these examples, grants were also awarded to the Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood Association for a new garden and welcome sign, the Campus Area Neighborhood Association for digital neighborhood outreach, and the Elderberry Neigbhorhood Association for pond beautification and a community gathering place.

Congratulations to this year’s awardees.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Mayor's Office and a link back to the original post.