This is part of a series of updates from Mayor Mark Stodola addressing various topics of interest to the citizens of Little Rock.
Message from the Mayor
Love Your Block
I’m happy to announce a competitive grant program called Love Your Block that is designed to help Neighborhood-Based Organizations (NBOs) meet their most pressing challenges through community service and focused City Services. The purpose of the Program is to promote and increase volunteerism in the city while partnering with city staff to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods.
Thanks to a generous $10,000 grant from the Home Depot Foundation, $19,000 in City of Little Rock funds and a combined $6,000 from Central Arkansas Planning and Development District as recommended by state Representatives John Edwards and John Walker, the City anticipates awarding thirty-five (35) $1,000 grants (Five (5) $1,000 grants in each Ward). Any neighborhood-based organization (NBO) registered with the City is eligible to apply. The objective of the Neighborhood Challenge-Love Your Block Grant Program is to encourage projects that promote volunteerism, foster civic pride, enhance and beautify neighborhoods, or encourage improvements in the way residents connect and solve problems. With this launch, the City of Little Rock joins 10 cities nationwide in implementing the Cities of Service Love Your Block blueprint, which helps revitalize neighborhoods one block at a time.
Yesterday, we announced the launch of the grant program at a news conference held at Woodruff Community Garden located at 7th and Brown streets. Neighborhood Based Organizations (NBO’s) are invited to apply for the grants by registering with the Department of Housing and Neighborhood Programs (call Andre Bernard at 371-4855) and completing a grant application. Grant applications are available at the Department of Housing and Neighborhood Programs. All grants are due by 5:00pm on May 25, 2012.
The Love Your Block grants must meet the following requirements to be considered for funding:
- Organizations must be registered with the City of Little Rock Department of Housing and Neighborhood Programs;
- Proposers must operate as a not-for-a-profit organization in nature and their Projects will not exclude the general public from use, if applicable;
- Proposals must demonstrate lasting and/or a direct benefit to the neighborhood;
- If awarded, organizations must maintain records reflecting program expenditures, number of volunteers taking part in the Project and in-kind contributions. These records are to be made available to the City in the Final Report;
- Grant recipients will hold the City harmless of all claims of every kind and character that may arise out of, or are in any way connected to, the project;
- Grant recipients are considered independent contractors and not as agents of the City; and
- Proposed projects must be within the established, recognized and registered boundaries of the organization submitting the Proposal. (Requests for an exception to this requirement will be considered on a case-by-case basis).
To be selected, successful grant proposals must have a detailed and realistic Project Plan for engaging residents to carry out a physical transformation of the public spaces on their block. Specifically, each NBO must:
- Operate on a not-for-a-profit basis. For purpose of this Neighborhood Challenge-Love Your Block Grant Program, an organization operating on a not-for-a-profit basis is defined as a corporation, group, or association that exists for charitable and/or public purposes without a profit motive or shareholders;
- Demonstrate the ability to mobilize a minimum of 20 neighborhood volunteers to take part in the revitalization of their block;
- Include one of more block beautification event(s) in its/their action plan to occur between June 15 and September 30, 2012;
- Send two main contact representatives to a grant orientation workshop where they will meet with staff from the Department of Housing and Neighborhood Programs, Little Rock Serves and select City agencies;
- Include before and after digital photos of improvements;
- Please respond to all questions found in the grant application, following the same order as the application. All applications must be dated and titled “2012 Neighborhood Challenge-Love Your Block Grant Program”.
Also consider submitting projects that can receive priority consideration:
- blocks within a 500 foot radius of an elementary, middle or high school (this should be noted in the grant application);
- projects that address one or more vacant lots; and,
- projects that benefit a business district.
Love Your Block Basics
Little Rock was chosen as one of twenty cities nationwide as a Cities of Service Leadership City in 2010 by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Rockefeller Foundation. The idea behind Cities of Service is to address pressing community needs with targeted and focused citizen service. This approach is designed to help cities identify and implement high-impact service strategies that address pressing local challenges in education and youth, health, neighborhood revitalization, environmental sustainability, and other areas.
These strategies are developed with the help of experts and turned into actionable "blueprints" that are being implemented in cities across the country with the help of local and national funders such as The Home Depot Foundation and others.
Love Your Block is a tested, high- impact service strategy in which the City engages community members in revitalizing their neighborhoods one block at a time.
There are four basic components to Love Your Block:
1. Cities raise money to provide small grants to community groups for supplies and coordinates with city agencies to identify a menu of targeted city services that can supplement volunteer efforts at the neighborhood level.
2. Cities publicize a grants competition soliciting proposals from community groups. Proposals must include a description of the challenges on the block and a preliminary work plan and basic budget that articulates how the grant would be used to address those challenges with volunteers.
3. Cities award grants to community groups and coordinate city services as requested by the grantees to support the local volunteer effort.
4. Cities will also track and report impact metrics for each project. Required metrics include:
a. Number of blocks (or other geographic unit, i.e., lots or neighborhoods) revitalized, AND at least two of the following:
i. Square feet of graffiti removed;
ii. Pounds of litter collected;
iii. Number of trees planted; and
iv. Number of green spaces or community gardens created.
So, get together with your neighbors and come up with a plan to revitalize a block by:
improving a park or a vacant lot; create a community garden; provide for streetscape improvements including planting trees or flowers; build a footbridge across a park pond; upgrade playground equipment; landscape a neighborhood park or common area; replace roofs on community buildings and storage facilities; build sprinkler systems for parks and flower beds; create entry signs into neighborhoods; create and install public art such as a mosaic murals; install house numbers; purchase tools, mowers, weed eaters and landscaping equipment to set up a tool-loan inventory; build storage sheds for neighborhood equipment; publish and distribute newsletters, flyers, brochures, etc.; purchase equipment for crime watch programs; launch litter control activities and equipment; purchase park benches and grills. Remember: All grant applications must be in the hands of the Department of Housing and Neighborhood Programs by 5:00 PM May 25, 2012.
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