Community LIFT grants lead to grassroots neighborhood development

Community LIFT has opened the application for its 2018 of micro-grants as part of its Empowerment Fund, which supports residents seeking to improve their community. 

The fund, launched in 2017, is designed to provide financial assistance to grassroots leaders and organizations for community work that improves the quality of life in Memphis’ under-resourced neighborhoods and to support the people and organizations that are already working to improve their neighborhoods and revitalize their communities.

Success stories from last year’s pool of Empowerment Fund grant recipients include the Binghampton International Festival.

“The Empowerment Fund grant really helped to make the festival possible,” said Nefertiti Orrin, grants director for Community LIFT. “They were able to pay artists who were part of that wonderful day. They were able to get necessities like port-a-potties and festival security. Without our support, they would not have been able to provide those crucial things.”

Festival organizers cited being able to work with neighbors on planning as the most rewarding aspect.

“In the long term, it was really more about building that community cohesiveness,” said Orrin. “As the festival was an international festival, they were able to show support for immigrants in the community and celebrate the different cultures that are represented in the neighborhood.”

The South Memphis Soccer Club is another project that was brought to life last year, transforming an underused space in the South City community into a useable gathering area for families.

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“They created recreational and fellowship opportunities and provided opportunities for non-residents to have a positive experience in South Memphis,” said Orrin.

Other projects awarded micro-grants last year include neighborhood gardening projects, community clean-ups, and neighborhood preservation efforts.

Residents, business and property owners, and neighborhood associations can apply for grants of up to $2,500 to fund community-supported projects that promote community cohesion, improve the physical spaces in the neighborhood, cultivate financial stability, and/or assist neighborhood stakeholders in collaborative action.

“In addition to direct rewards, we will also provide technical assistance training to help support the applicants with building capacity in particular areas like managing a grant as well as advocacy and engagement,” according to Orrin.

Empowerment fund Information sessions will take place on July 2 at 10:30 a.m. at 1350 Concourse Avenue, Suite 434; July 2 at 5:30 p.m. at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library and on July 9 at 10:30 a.m. at the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis.

Applications will be accepted until July 27.

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Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.