Neighborhood Mini-Grant Deadline is December 1st

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Tompkins Weekly 11/26/12

By Jake Fitzpatrick

Sustainable Tompkins’ Neighborhood Mini-Grant Program is preparing to award more mini-grants to the community as the December 1st application deadline approaches. Shortly thereafter the Neighborhood Mini-grant Council, comprised of local sustainability leaders, will deliberate and award sustainable projects with grants ranging from $150-$750. Mini-grants support resident initiated projects that improve quality of life, while also building community and collaboration among residents. Since 2008, the grants have funded diverse projects all over Tompkins County ranging from biochar and gardening, to children’s arts programs and pumpkin festivals.

Most recently, in September, three community projects received grants:

-The “Healthcare Visual Storytelling Project” was awarded a grant to give Tompkins County residents the opportunity to share their stories regarding the health insurance system. Videotaping the stories will empower citizen voices, evoke powerful emotional responses, and trigger meaningful conversations on the subject.

-“TeamUnity Project: Stewart Park” is a plan for a public event at Stewart Park in April 2013. Beautification projects, an educational scavenger hunt and live entertainment are on the agenda. The event will bridge together local organizations, emerging leaders, and local artists.

-West Village Gone Green Community Garden will use its mini-grant to purchase a toxic-free hose for their garden. Sustainable Tompkins helped kickstart the 20’x20’ garden last year and it now yields organic produce available to those who lend a hand.

June Awardees

-Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca’s Dispositional Alternatives Program (DAP) received funding for improvements in their garden plot at Ithaca Community Gardens. Youth who work on the plot not only learn sustainable gardening practices but also lean the relationship between food and health.

-Historic Ithaca received a grant to continue street side beautification of their architectural salvage warehouse Significant Elements. Watch for a fence, plants, and a bike rack to accompany the mural that was painted last year to mark Significant Elements’ 20th anniversary.

-Children’s Arts Immersion Movement (CAIM) Summer 2012 Program received funding to seed a music and theater themed program. Youth participants from Ithaca’s Southside created their own music and preformed a puppet show at the program’s finale.

-Femtastic!- a Trumansburg based student group that promotes and demonstrates positive role models for young women, used their Mini-grant for supplies and implementation of Pumpkin Fest 2012. Profits from this 2nd annual Pumpkin Fest benefited The Ithaca Advocacy Center and Femtastic! members.

-Finger Lakes ReUse’s Mini-Grant was awarded for their Community Technology Assistance Program. The funding will allow the program to refurbish a total of 50 computers and provide them at no or low cost to low-income local families.

-Loaves & Fishes received funding for plant and building materials for a raised-bed garden. The garden will supply fresh fruit and vegetables to the Loaves and Fishes kitchen year-round.

-Peace Week 2012 received a grant to cover the cost of program flyers. Peace Week 2012 was held in conjunction with Earth Dance and the Food Justice and the program featured a full calendar of events.

-SewGreen’s “Sewing and Reuse Arts Outreach” Project was funded to provide additional on-site programming to children aged 9 to 12 at the West Village Apartments. In collaboration with 4-H, SewGreen will bring sewing skill-builders and reuse projects to the participants.

This past March, the Caroline Food Pantry received a Mini-Grant and has since reported great success.  The grant funds went towards a scale that would measure how much food is grown. Now the pantry can say things like this: “3,861 pounds of produce were donated during the bi-monthly Caroline Food Pantry distributions from May – October 2012.” DeWitt Middle School Site Committee successfully completed a drought/deer resistant upgrade to the “Weeping Cherry Garden” after receiving a Mini-Grant for the project. Despite deer foraging and a summer drought, the garden persisted and now provides an attractive display for people walking near the school. Ithaca Freeskool used their awarded funds to get the word out about their programs. The completely volunteer run program offers at least 35 classes a semester and may soon have a radio show. Mini-Grant funds were also allocated to a Freeville resident for a biochar kiln. After six months, the kiln has gone through many trials, and was used to instruct several local residents on biochar with a Freeskool class. The kiln allowed for a reduction in biowaste and will be further utilized during the next growing season.

As of September 2012, Sustainable Tompkins has supported 82 projects with over $30,000 in awards. Funds for Neighborhood Mini-Grants come from the Park Foundation, Aigen Financial Services, and individual contributions. To make a donation or learn more, please visit To apply for a Mini-Grant email or call us at 607-216-1552.

Jake Fitzpatrick is the Mini-Grant Coordinator for Sustainable Tompkins. When he’s not in our office he can be found at Cayuga Heights Elementary After-school program where he serves as the lead environmental educator.

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