In October 2021, Sustainable Tompkins awarded $1,857 in four Neighborhood Mini-Grants supporting projects to reduce waste production, increase equitable access to resources, or both.

Ithaca resident Mackenzie Torelli will work with fifth graders at Northeast Elementary School to build five Little Free Libraries, placed at the elementary school and four public parks in Northeast Ithaca. A local and international network, Little Free Libraries expand access to books while reducing the purchasing and disposal of books. A Neighborhood Mini-Grant will pay for materials to build the libraries.

The Finger Lakes Toy Library, launched in 2017 with support from a Neighborhood Mini-Grant, recently moved from Ithaca’s Southside neighborhood to a larger location in the Ithaca Mall. The new location provides them with more space to expand their collection and the population they serve, furthering their mission of expanding access to toys while offering families an alternative to buying and disposing of toys, but they need to spread the word to potential new members. A Neighborhood Mini-Grant will pay for outreach materials and advertisements announcing the change in location and increasing their visibility to potential new members.

Open Doors English offers professional and comprehensive English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to adults in and around Tompkins County, building economic equity and community resilience by empowering diverse people to access and navigate financial and social systems. They are currently teaching classes remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and providing free wi-fi hotspots to some of the students — farmworkers and other low-income residents of areas that lack regular and reliable Internet access. A Neighborhood Mini-Grant will pay for three such hotspots, for use through summer 2022.
Zero Waste Ithaca, a grassroots community group devoted to reducing local waste through educating the public and pressuring businesses on management policies, is planning a campaign encouraging restaurants and food-serving stores to accept Bring-Your-Own-Containers (BYOC), offer single-use utensils by request only, and/or develop returnable container systems. A Neighborhood Mini-Grant will fund the printing of BYOC stickers, which will be displayed at participating businesses, providing crucial visibility for the programs.
The Neighborhood Mini-Grant Program provides seed money to diverse initiatives to build environmental, economic, and social resilience and well-being in Tompkins County. The program is sponsored by the Park Foundation, Beck Equipment, Craig Riecke, Natural Investments, Fingerlakes Wealth Management, and local donors. The next deadline for the Mini-Grant program will be April 1, 2022. To request an application or learn more, email