Small Community Projects Aim to Pack Big Punch
Thursday, March 11, 2021
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Grants again are being made available to governments, nonprofits and community groups across Minnesota to carry out local improvement projects that can be done in short order.
From now until April 14, AARP is accepting applications for Community Challenge grants.
The organization said the grants are intended as "quick action" projects that might run into obstacles obtaining funding.
Jay Haapala, Associate State Director of Community Engagement for AARP Minnesota, said there are a lot of ways the funding can help improve the livability factor in a community.
"Whether it comes to housing and transportation, social inclusion in public places, for example," Haapala outlined.
He pointed out one of the more memorable projects in Minnesota was in Northfield, where a group purchased a mobile unit to provide seating options for seniors at outdoor festivals.
Meanwhile, in response to the current crisis and the racial reckoning from the past year, the program is expanding grant opportunities for pandemic recovery, as well as diversity and inclusion.
Another recent Minnesota grant went to Project Food Forest, which maintains a public space in Luverne in the southwestern part of the state.
Equivalent to a community garden, edible forests are designed to offer healthy food options in underserved areas.
Kimberly Rockman, president and executive director of the project, said they used the money to install three sculptures to complement the vines, as well as picnic tables and signage for the site. She believes it really enhances the experience.
"We have lots of plants growing, but when we're able to really add an art element and additional signage, you've got joy, you've got learning," Rockman asserted.
She said another positive element was the products used to make the structures were locally sourced.
The size of the grants range from a few hundred dollars to more than $10,000, but there are no limits. The projects need to be completed by early November.
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