by Michael Sarko
– The Capitol Hill Times –
As everyone greets 2013 with the slow but steady return to work after the typical slow downs of the holiday season, several Capitol Hill organizations are gearing up for improvements made possible by the City’s Neighborhood Matching Fund program. Four organizations, three of which are specific to the Hill and one that has a citywide impact, have been granted approximately $63,000 for particular projects the City classifies as “Small and Simple.” A testament to the wide scope of the neighborhood’s community efforts, these most recent awards cover a variety of fields including the arts, park improvement, health, and social services.
The Neighborhood Matching Fund program divests city dollars to community groups that have demonstrated an ongoing and substantial dedication to improving life around Seattle. These groups can include volunteer hours and other non-monetary resources in addition to cash in their total estimated funds, some percentage of which the city will match in award money. The Small and Simple Projects Fund is specifically intended for minor but essential improvements and additions to existing efforts. In essence, Small and Simple grants aren’t meant to fund entire programs, but can take a significant amount of the burden off an organization’s annual bottom line.
For example, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce received $15,265 to fund promotional materials for the Blitz Arts Walk’s upcoming year, which includes community outreach, new signage, and the overhaul of the Blitz website. Currently, the once-monthly neighborhood arts walk relies on a fairly bare bones website with some clutter of integrated social networking windows and sometimes difficult navigation. The CHCC hopes to improve the participation of local businesses through better communications collateral and make it easier for Blitz-goers to find events and vendors every second Thursday throughout the neighborhood.
Another Capitol Hill fixture, the Gay City Health Project, received $19,000 under the “citywide” label to bring professional-level improvements to the Calamus Auditorium at Gay City HQ on East Pike Street. Gay City provides HIV and STI testing to men who have sex with men, as well as many other education and outreach programs throughout the year. The Calamus Auditorium hosts lectures, discussions, and support meetings for a wide cross-section of the community. The Matching Funds grant will allow Gay City to install permanent technical systems for light and sound, as well as seating at the Calamus Auditorium.
Elsewhere in social services, the Jubilee Women’s Center is using its Small and Simple award to essentially double its resources for an emergency preparedness plan. The Jubilee Women’s Center has provided housing and other services to help women transition from extreme poverty and homelessness since 1983. In its 13th anniversary year, Jubilee is set to create a comprehensive response plan to ensure the health of safety of their staff, residents, volunteers, and neighbors in the event of a major disaster. The project funds will allow Jubilee to gather supplies, create emergency kits, and provide emergency response training.
The most noticeable addition to the Capitol Hill landscape made possible by the Matching Funds program is the long-in-the-works Broadway Hill Park. The park, which has been in the design process since 2011, will occupy two parcels of land at the corner of Federal Avenue East and East Republican Street, currently a bare lot just a few blocks east of a busy stretch of Broadway. This project has already received significant grants from other sources, including just shy of $2 million for the land itself from the Parks and Green Spaces Levy, previous Matching Funds awards, and a private award from Umpqua Bank’s Build Your Block Challenge. This most recent Small and Simple award, totaling $18,025, will allow the community group Friends of Federal and Republican Open Space to complete all necessary documents to begin construction of the park. Several public meetings throughout the past two years have gathered data on the most sought-after elements to include in the park. Among them are seating and picnic spaces, a play area with a sandbox, and a new P-Patch Community Garden.
The Neighborhood Matching Funds Program provides several award opportunities throughout the year. The Large Projects Fund accepts applications once a year. In 2013, the deadline is May 6. The Small and Simple Fund awards twice a year, seeking applications by March 4 and Oct. 7 in 2013. The program also provides Small Sparks awards of up to $1,000 that disperse throughout the year, provided the application is received six weeks prior to the start of the proposed project. The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods lists all important dates and guidelines for Matching Funds applications on its page of the City of the Seattle website.