For citizens of Corvallis who believe they can make a difference in their corner of the community, the city offers a series of competitive grants known as Empowerment Grants. The application period for these grants runs through the month of February, from February 1 until March 1. The program encourages potential applicants to attend at least one Empowerment Grant Workshop, a hands-on experience designed to guide them through the process. The Advocate decided to visit their first workshop on Tuesday, January 29 to learn more about the program, the application process, and the applicants themselves.
At the Chintimini Senior Center on Tuesday night, Tracy Oulman, Housing & Neighborhood Director for the Community Development Department as well as Tracey Yee, chair of the Community Involvement and Diversity Advisory Board (CIDAB) and Stewart Wershow, another CIDAB board member, were on hand to describe to applicants the nuts and bolts of their application process, and to offer advice on how to strengthen their applications. CIDAB is the city organization in charge of reviewing and approving grant applications.
About 20 people attended the workshop, representing both potential new organizations and ongoing community projects. Teddy Gerrish and Elijah Stucki attended, hoping to learn how to secure grant money to establish a Corvallis trans support group. Doug and Mary Severs joined the group to propose funding their neighborhood’s ongoing improvement project at the dog park of Woodland Meadows Park in northwest Corvallis. Doug is thinking about planting wildflowers. Rachel Schwindt was there for Corvallis Right of Way, seeking funds for education and outreach about non-motorized transportation.
As of this year, there are two different categories of Empowerment Grants. Neighborhood Grants, the original form of the grant, are given to efforts focused on particular geographic areas. This grant funded the construction of an information kiosk in Arnold Park and the street mural at the intersection of 11th St. and Tyler Ave.
Community Grants are a new feature of the Empowerment Grant program, implemented after the city received an overwhelming number of ideas that were worth funding, but didn’t fit the particular geographic limits on Neighborhood Grants. Oulman cited pitches for an International Moms group and a “tool share library” as the kinds of ideas that benefit not geographic communities, but communities of identity like mothers or D.I.Y. enthusiasts.
After spending the first hour discussing the details of the application and past projects, the group split into round tables, where applicants were able to ask Oulman, Yee and Wershow specific questions about their ideas, and meet other applicants who may have related ideas.
The next workshop is on Thursday, February 14th at 7:15 am.
If you are unable to attend this workshop or have other questions in the meantime, you can contact Tracy Oulman at email@example.com or call 541-766-6552. All of the application materials and guidelines are available at https://www.corvallisoregon.gov/cd/page/empowerment-grant-program. Also, please visit the following links for additional information.
By Ian MacRonald