Grass-roots neighborhood fixes grow out of city grant program

A half-million dollars in grant money will be up for grabs this summer for residents hoping to spruce up their corner of The City.

Ever since voters approved the Community Challenge Grant Program in 1990, businesses have paid 1 percent of their payroll taxes toward the grants, which have provided roughly $6.8 million in the last eight years, according to program leader Lanita Henriquez.

Those funds have gone toward new trees on 24th Street, hanging flower baskets on Mission Street, gardens in the Sunset and art installations at city parks.

Another grant window opens today, offering residents and neighborhood groups a shot at grants of less than $10,000 for small projects and up to $100,000 for the biggest of plans.

“[These] grants empower the community to undertake grass-roots greening projects across The City,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said.

However, because the grant process can seem labyrinthine to first-timers, Henriquez will lead workshops Saturday at the Neighborhood Empowerment Network’s Clean & Green Summit.

“If you have a good neighbor and a good bowl of pasta, you can [write the proposal] in two nights,” said Denise LaPointe, whose proposal garnered $4,500 for landscape improvements along a stretch of Twin Peaks Boulevard tended by neighbor Edith Fried. “It takes some organization, but it really is achievable.”

The stretch, known locally as “Edith’s Garden,” will see more plants as well as irrigation from the grant, which will be matched by donations from neighbors, according to LaPointe.

This summer’s challenge-grant window closes July 9. Of the 50 groups that apply during each round, a little more than half receive some amount of money, Henriquez said.

bwinegarner@sfexaminer.com

If you go

The details of Neighborhood Empowerment Network’s Clean & Green Summit

When: 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Cesar Chavez Elementary School, on Folsom Street at 23rd Street

How: For more information or to register, visit www.empowersf.org, e-mail nen@sfgov.org, or call (415) 554-7011.

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