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Six community-driven projects get a boost with grants from the University of Minnesota Good Neighbor Fund

April 30, 2012

Youth in the West Bank/Cedar Riverside neighborhood will beautify their community through one of six projects sharing $49,600 in grant funding from the University of Minnesota’s Good Neighbor Fund endowment in 2012. The Good Neighbor Fund was created in 2007 with an initial investment of $1.5 million when the State of Minnesota committed funding to construct TCF Bank Stadium on the university’s campus in Minneapolis. 

The fund’s purpose is to "enhance the beauty, serenity, and security" of the communities adjacent to campus. Grant applications are reviewed and recommended by a five-member citizen committee of the university’s Stadium Area Advisory Group. The Stadium Area Advisory Group was first convened in 2004 to invite representatives of adjacent municipalities, neighborhoods and business districts to advise the university on the planning, development and operation of an on-campus Gopher football stadium. In five years of fund operations, 32 community projects have received a total of $231,167 in grant support.
 
"It’s good to have a resource to continually invest in improving the neighborhoods. These projects are small, but they make a difference," says Joan Menken, resident of the South East Como neighborhood since the 1960s and member of the Stadium Area Advisory Group since it began. "It’s a signal to the residents and business owners that the university shares their value of having quality neighborhoods near campus."

"What I like the most is being able to support projects that engage students and get them involved in the life of the community," said Skott Johnson, president of the Dinkytown Business Association and member of the Good Neighbor Fund Management Committee.

The West Bank Community Coalition and Brian Coyle Community Center sponsor the youth Neighborhood Beautification Project. Neighborhood youth will work through the summer to improve community gardens, eradicate graffiti and work with business owners to spruce up and build pride in the Cedar Riverside business district. For more information about the West Bank Community Coalition go to http://www.westbankcc.org/ 

The Good Neighbor Fund will support five additional projects in 2012:

In the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, the Community Carillon Project will sponsor composition of original music and stage community event performances on the carillon at a neighborhood church. Student composers in the U of M School of Music will work with two professional composers who live in the neighborhood. A second grant will support the development of the Marcy Path to Peace Labyrinth, a permanent exterior landmark in the public park adjacent to Marcy Open School, a public K – 8 school that is an important community asset. For more information about the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, visit http://www.marcy-holmes.org/

In the South East Como neighborhood, a Good Neighbor Fund grant will support initial planning and community outreach for the Como Blueprint Project, which begins the development of a new neighborhood plan -- a collaboration between the South East Como Improvement Association and the City of Minneapolis. The Blueprint committee includes neighborhood residents and U of M students with an interest in community planning. To learn more about the Como Blueprint Project, visit http://sites.google.com/site/comoblueprint/home

Two additional grants in the West Bank/Cedar Riverside neighborhood will support a Crime Prevention Internship Program with neighborhood youth during the summer of 2012; and the expansion of the third annual West Bank Music Festival -- an August outdoor event on Cedar Avenue organized by the West Bank Business Association that attracts people from all over the region to the extraordinary music and performance venues in the Cedar Riverside area. To learn more about the music festival, visit http://www.thewestbank.org/members/MusicFestival

Good Neighbor Fund grant applications are solicited in January of each year.  Eligible applicants are limited to the organizations represented on the Stadium Area Advisory Group. For further information, visit http://www.community.umn.edu/gnf or contact Peg Wolff in Community Relations for the Twin Cities campus, at wolff002@umn.edu
 

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