On a Saturday afternoon in late August, Covington’s Eastside neighborhood was lit up with the sounds of jazz, Latin dance music, gospel, and R&B, as the neighborhood put on its first Music and Soul Food Festival.
The event was produced with the help of $4,850 from the city of Covington’s new Neighborhood Grant Program. It was one of 10 neighborhood projects the city funded in its first grantmaking round, which totaled $30,000.
The Peaselburg neighborhood was awarded $3,400 to design and create neighborhood banners; Lewisburg received $800 to install little free libraries; Licking-Riverside was awarded $4,853.65 to build a historically designed drinking fountain in George Rogers Clark park and Latonia received $3,000 for planters and a portable water cart.
“We funded a range of interesting projects that have long been on the wish lists of various neighborhood groups,” says Ken Smith, Covington’s neighborhood services director.
The program is designed for neighborhood associations or groups. Businesses, individuals, schools, religious organizations, and others are not eligible.
"Covington has many strong and active neighborhoods, and we want to partner with them," Smith says.
A second round of funding is in the works, and the deadline for applications was Oct. 7. The city has set aside another $30,000 for this round, Smith says.
The grants are a way to get neighborhood improvement projects funded without going through the traditional budgetary process, he says.
“Sometimes neighborhoods want to do things to improve their communities, but they might not rise to the level of city budget funding,” he says.
City staff will score the applications using a variety of measures, including feasibility, need, local support, impact, and sustainability. The city is looking for neighborhood-oriented projects related to physical improvements, activities, or events that can be implemented quickly, rather than complex ideas that will take a lot of time to carry out, Smith says.
Grants range from $250 to $5,000. The winning submissions will be announced at the end of October.
Covington has made some minor changes in advance of this round:
- Groups must meet with Smith to discuss their proposal.
- If projects require approval from other city departments or agencies, such as a right-of-way permit, that approval must be in place before a grant agreement can be executed.
- If an applicant doesn't have legal standing to receive funding, another entity may serve as the fiscal agent with the City's approval.
- The project must benefit the public and not just the organization.
- Expenses incurred before the grant agreement is executed will be ineligible for reimbursement.