In the Jan. 2 issue of Real Change, Chris Russell reported on our People’s Academy for Community Engagement. (“New city program trains the next generation of citizen activists,” Real Change, Jan. 2, 2013)
We are very pleased that Real Change highlighted this wonderful program in its pilot year and the early success it has already achieved in training emerging leaders in civic work.
However, toward the end of the article there was a quote from a community member stating that our Neighborhood Matching Fund program was not accessible or equitable for all community members in the funds it awards. Unfortunately, this is an inaccurate statement, and I feel compelled to set the record straight on behalf of this 25-year-old program.
The Neighborhood Matching Fund awards matching dollars for neighborhood-initiated projects. The community groups match these funds through contributions of volunteer labor, donated materials, professional services and/or cash. The fund has always been focused on ensuring these public funds are spent wisely and providing the opportunity for all community members, especially our underserved populations. And our track record supports these facts.
To give you an idea of the awards given from May 2011 through 2012, 30 percent of the awarded projects and 39 percent of the total funds awarded supported communities of color and/or ethnic and refugee communities. This includes our Small Sparks Fund (which funds up to $1000), Small and Simple Projects Fund (up to $20,000), and the Large Projects Fund (up to $100,000). The activities range from major capital projects to events and workshops. And over the years, we have consistently reached out and awarded Neighborhood Matching Fund grants to communities of color across the city.
We are pleased with the amazing work that has been accomplished by community members in all neighborhoods through the support of the Neighborhood Matching Fund. And we look forward to many more years of engaging and supporting the efforts of our communities. For those interested in learning more about our awards and program overall, they can contact me at 206.684.0465 or Patricia Lopez, supervisor of the Neighborhood Matching Fund, at 206.684.0713, or visit our website at seattle.gov/neighborhood/nmf.