“Community Foundation Sonoma County created the Neighborhood Grants Program to provide community residents the resources to address and solve problems in their own neighborhoods. We believe that residents have the capacity and the desire to gather together to address issues of importance to families in these communities. We hope that residents will be inspired to bring the skills and relationships they formed in their neighborhoods to the broader community and that that the perceived differences of ethnicity, gender, and economics that often appear to divide communities will be overcome through the common experience of working together.” ―Herb Castillo, Community Foundation board member.
In its first year, the Neighborhood Grants program has already made a difference for many, including:
Sunrise Community Garden in Petaluma was awarded $2,000 to bring fresh, organic food to the community. Bridging income, language, age and cultural differences, Sunrise Community Garden is a model project for community building, greatly increasing positive interactions between disparate sections of the neighborhood. When the garden is complete, it will offer 20 organic beds and a small orchard to produce healthy food at minimal cost for both the plot holders and the local community.
“The Neighborhood Grant was directly responsible for the garden opening on time, which improved relationships all around. It also enabled the garden membership to move forward with additional important projects and encouraged us to research and apply for other grants. We hope that the garden will be self-sufficient financially within the first year.” June Gerron, Sunrise Community Garden.
Elsie Allen High School’s Lobo Unity is a grassroots effort whose mission is to strengthen community relationships with the neighbors around the High School. The Lobo Unity Community Fair was launched in 2008, with 1,500 participants and 60 booths, to create strong neighborhood connections. In 2012, Lobo Unity committed to engaging the youngest members of the community, with the Community Foundation Neighborhood grant supporting the participation of the Children’s Museum.
“Writing this grant allowed the students of Lobo Unity to become aware of the grant process. The grant held them to deadlines and budget constraints much different than their daily school assignments. Lobo Unity felt a sense of accomplishment knowing their motivation to create a quality family event was not hindered by school budget cutbacks and that with time and research, other avenues of support could ensure another successful fair.” Lisa DeCarbo, Lobo Unity Director.
Windsor Bloco received $2,000 in funding to purchase drum mallets, drum heads and a sound system for a youth drum and dance after-school program. This group has been together for twelve years with a fundamental objective being youth leadership development. Youth are given opportunities to set goals for the group, lead discussions and provide peer support. The Windsor Bloco program strives to reach students, give them a sense of belonging and keep them active in and out of school.
The Linwood Neighborhood Watch Group was awarded a $500 matching grant to publish a twice-yearly newsletter, to distribute Neighborhood Watch decals and to rent meeting space at Sonoma Academy. The goal is to develop newsletter articles that have longevity, such as pieces on disaster preparedness and how to call the police to report suspicious activity.
The Quetzalen Folk Ballet Group in the Springs area of Sonoma Valley was awarded $2000 to buy costumes for the youngest dancers so that they can participate in the performances. Dance classes and events for adults and children bring families together to learn about the dances’ history, practice, perform and share their cultural pride with each other and many other communities.