Tallahassee Renews its Vibrant Neighborhood Grant Program

By Kennedy Smith

For the third year in a row, the city of Tallahassee has renewed its Vibrant Neighborhood Grant Program. The city is currently accepting applications for the program that offers a matching and reimbursable grant.

The program partners with neighborhood and homeowner associations in hopes of increasing the quality of living and neighborhood collaboration in the neighborhoods within Tallahassee’s city limits. The City’s Neighborhood Affairs Division offers grants ranging from $500 to $2,5000 that will be available on a first come, first serve basis. After the funds have been exhausted, the program will be closed for the year.

According to the Vibrant Neighborhood Grant Program newsletter released by the city of Tallahassee, “the grant funds and accompanying technical assistance provided by the program are designed to empower neighborhood groups to effectively plan and implement solutions to enhance neighborhood vibrancy, safety and inclusivity.”

Robyn Wainner, the neighborhood services coordinator for the city of Tallahassee, said that this program is designed to “provide small grants to neighborhood and homeowners’ associations so they can take on resident driven projects.”

Wainner expressed that although all associations within the city limits have the ability to apply for this grant, they are looking for associations that show they have their neighbors’ support.

“We’re looking for applications from neighborhoods that demonstrate that they’ve got neighborhood support for the project and that residents have been involved in planning the project and implementing it as well,” Wainner said.

The Tallahassee newsletter said that these projects include community beautification/placemaking, community enrichment programs/initiatives and neighborhood events. For each of these categories there is a maximum amount that can be awarded to an association if their application is approved. For the community beautification/placemaking projects, the maximum amount that can be awarded is $2,500, for the community enrichment programs/initiatives the amount is $1,000 and for the neighborhood events there is a maximum amount of $500.

For associations to be eligible for this grant, they must be able match 50% of the requested funds. They can demonstrate this with a cash contribution, in-kind contribution or volunteer time being calculated at $15 an hour.

John Baker, the manager of neighborhood affairs for the city of Tallahassee, said the biggest goal for this program is that it would help in “improving the quality of life in our communities and encouraging residents to make small scale improvements in their area in partnership with their city government.”

Baker expects that this partnership will also create social cohesion.

“Neighborhood and homeowners’ associations don’t have the cash to undertake even small-scale projects in their community, but they do have the expertise, the labor, and the skills to do some of these projects. So the idea is if we can incentivize these associations, we would leverage in-kind resources and as well as cash in some instances to improve the community,” Baker said.

Both Baker and Wainner are hopeful for this year’s applicant turnout, Baker said that on the day the city started accepting applications, they had already received one application. Last year, the city received 10 applications and was able to fund eight of those. They are expecting over 10 applications this year.

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