By Mindy Kao, program associate, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
For the past six years, Carol Yancey and the Oakwood Trails Neighborhood Watch has hosted the Oakwood Trails Back-to-School Block Party for the families of this small Clayton County neighborhood. The event has been successful in bringing together neighborhood residents and community leaders and providing school supplies to kids. This year Yancey had her sights set on taking her community event to the next level, so she submitted an application to the Neighborhood Fund, a competitive grantmaking program run by the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. Out of nearly 60 applications, hers was one that rose to the top and the group was awarded an $8,000 grant along with community coaching services.
Established in 1991, the Neighborhood Fund is the Community Foundation’s longest-running grant program. The program is designed to empower metro Atlanta residents who seek to positively impact their immediate neighborhoods and communities. The Fund supports grassroots community leaders driving social change at a local level through the provision of financial and coaching support. Unlike most other grant programs, applicants do not have to be a 501(c)(3) organization to apply, which has enabled the Community Foundation to reach a wider pool of civic-minded leaders in the region. Since its inception, the Neighborhood Fund has provided an estimated $3.2 million in grants and training to nearly 700 neighborhood projects.
While Neighborhood Fund has touched countless residents of the region through the projects it has funded, it has also impacted the volunteer leaders who have worked with the Foundation to review and evaluate applications. For example, one successful business leader with philanthropic drive was passionate about giving back to the community. He became involved with the Community Foundation in the 1980s, serving on the Neighborhood Fund’s advisory committee while also giving of his time to support a range of local projects. Last year, through his estate, a large gift was made to further the Neighborhood Fund and the Community Foundation’s other community development-related programs and initiatives. The passion and commitment of one person will have a large ripple effect in our neighborhoods for years to come.
Empowered by this donor’s generous gift and the grassroots energy around the Neighborhood Fund, Community Foundation staff are excited to enter into the 2017 grant cycle. Two Neighborhood Fund grant cycles are available this year, one that started earlier this month and another that starts in August. Deadlines and application materials can be found here. If you’re engaged in a project that can strengthen your neighborhood, we encourage you to apply!