Tuesday, June 17 – We announced exciting news at the Turn This Town Around – Grafton meeting last night! In order to support the work of the TTTA initiative and build on the momentum created by completed town improvements, The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation is awarding $75,000 in grant funding to each of the two TTTA towns, Grafton and Matewan. Fifty thousand dollars of the money will be awarded in $2,500 disbursements for mini grant funding for about 20 town improvement projects. On August 15, the TTTA sponsors, West Virginia Focus, WV Public Broadcasting and the WV Hub, will announce the winning projects from all of the proposals. Attendees at last night’s meeting were given information about applying for the grants and making successful proposals. If you missed the meeting you can get more information from the Hub’s Director of Community Strategies, Amanda Yager.
Mini grant projects will be eligible if they meet the following requirements:
- Projects must be supported by a team of at least three people, who can’t all be from the same organization.
- The team must participate in three workshops that will help shape the project and train the team. The workshops are on June 30, July 21, and August 4.
- The team must have adequate representation at the workshops.
- Projects must benefit the whole town not a single business, church or organization.
- The team must complete a project worksheet, which includes information about the volunteers, available
resources, budget, project feasibility and planned activities to see the project accomplished.
- The project worksheet must be submitted by August 1.
Teams can seek matching funds or look to other donors to augment the project funding.
An additional $25,000 will be awarded in pre-development funding for more ambitious projects that require things like feasibility studies, site surveys or consultation with architects, lawyers, etc. Some of the projects originally proposed by TTTA-Grafton and Matewan participants are more ambitious and would require more time and funding. In Grafton – a veteran’s memorial park, restoration of the Willard Hotel and walking trails with gardens. In Matewan – restoration of the historic jail, construction of an amphitheater and more lodging options.
The requirements for the pre-development funds are the same as for the mini grants, but these funds can be disbursed in greater amounts and are intended for “bold, aspirational projects,” and the funding has to be used by July 1, 2015. This funding can be requested in phases as the project develops and funding needs arise.
Kent Spellman, Executive Director of the Hub, made the announcement about the grants with Mary Hunt, a Senior Program Officer with the Benedum Foundation. The announcement was made after various members of the community shared the progress they had made in Grafton since the last meeting. Volunteers have been cleaning up and repairing buildings and public spaces all over town, and the city has demolished about 10 abandoned properties. This Saturday, June 21, is recycling day from 9-3 at Anna Jarvis Elementary School.
Kent Spellman and Eric Pories, the founder and Lead Facilitator/Coach at Focus Intent, encouraged the participants at Grafton’s meeting to consider building on projects already proposed at previous meetings, but also to consider new projects in areas crucial to town health including:
- Historic preservation
- Workforce affordable housing/lodging
- Town marketing and promotions
- A community center
- Broadband connectivity
- Economic development