(Richland PIO) – A redesigned grant program to expedite neighborhood improvements in Richland County will soon open up to residents.
The Neighborhood Enrichment Grant program replaces the County’s Neighborhood Matching Grants and comes in direct response to community input. Enrichment Grants of up to $2,500 will be awarded annually for projects that improve the quality of life for all residents within the applicant’s neighborhood.
What Do the Changes Mean?
In recent years, staff with Richland County’s Neighborhood Improvement Program (NIP) gathered residents’ feedback on the matching grant program and found that requiring a monetary match by neighborhoods made it difficult to apply for the grants.
“We saw a lot of confusion around how the match component of the grant worked,” said Brian Crooks, planning services manager for the County. “By removing the required match to the grant, we feel this opens more opportunities to neighborhood groups wishing to apply.”
“It helps simplify the process and allows for smoother implementation and planning of projects from the grant,” Crooks added.
Along with removing the match requirement, the Neighborhood Enrichment Grant program includes a larger selection of potential projects and a separate, income-based funding tier for certain neighborhoods.
Potential applicants are encouraged to attend one of several upcoming training sessions to learn about the changes. Planning staff will give the trainings in the fourth-floor conference room of the County Administration Building, 2020 Hampton St., Columbia:
· 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17
· 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17
· 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1
· 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1
· 10 a.m.-noon Wednesday, Jan. 5
· 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 5
· 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12
· 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12
“This new grant program is going to make funding more accessible to neighborhoods in the County,” said Councilwoman Yvonne McBride, who represents District 3. “We hope these training sessions will encourage residents to learn how they can apply to make their communities even better places to live.”
NIP staff can also schedule one-on-one training upon request. Email NIP@richlandcountysc.gov or call 803-576-2194.
What Kinds of Projects Are Eligible?
Grant projects must provide a public benefit to the neighborhood and its residents, involve residents directly in all phases, and be achievable by June following the award year.
Examples of eligible projects include neighborhood entrance signs, community festivals, after-school tutoring programs, community gardens, and lighting improvements. A more complete list of projects is available on Richland County’s webpage on Neighborhood Enrichment Grants.
Higher priority for grant funding will be given to organizations in disadvantaged communities.
For more information on the new Neighborhood Enrichment Grant program, contact County Planning staff at NIP@richlandcountysc.gov or 803-576-2194. Information is also available on the County’s Grants webpage.