Wildly popular Grand Rapids Neighborhood Match Fund open to new ideas, deadline looms

In its continuing effort to invest in neighborhoods, the City of Grand Rapids is accepting another round of Neighborhood Match Fund (NMF) proposals for projects taking place between March 1 and Aug. 31 of next year. 

Through Dec. 31, the City will accept project proposals from Grand Rapids residents and will award contracts ranging from $500 to $5,000. Projects should be focused on COVID-19 resiliency, equity and engagement, and should increase the quality of life in neighborhoods. 

Proposals must be submitted by a Grand Rapids resident who is from the community the project will serve. 

Too often, organizations that serve the community may not be representative of the community it serves, according to Stacy Stout, director of equity and engagement at the City. 

“We have so much wisdom, skill, ability, experience within our neighborhoods, there's no reason not to hire local and not to really invest in our local leadership,” says Stout.

Since the fund launched in 2017, the City has awarded over 145 projects led by Grand Rapids residents, totaling over $500,000. Past projects have included the Grand Rapids African American Arts and Music Festival and the Black Book Exchange. 
Grand Rapids African American Arts and Music Festival“Talent lives here. We have amazing neighbors, residents that have been doing incredible work for decades and so what this fund is honored and very humbled to do is to come alongside that community brilliance and dedication, and help them scale or support what they're doing,” says Stout.

Submitted applications will be reviewed by the NMF project coordinator and the Office of Equity and Engagement team and those that are approved will be evaluated by a diverse community led group for final approval. In the final stage, the project leader will meet with the NMF coordinator to further discuss the project, its scope and expected outcomes.

“I really encourage folks to submit their idea. The process is designed for everyday residents, not necessarily grant writers,” says Stout.

While proposals do need to be fleshed out, Stout notes that the ideas don’t have to be completely solidified. In the contract stage, the NMF team will work with project leaders on project specifics. 

“We want the opportunity to invest in [resident] leadership and so we really try to take a humble approach and really try to invest with gratitude,” says Stout. “And that's why they're contracts, because they are literally helping the community and the city be a better place for everyone.”

Additional information, past projects and the application can be found here.