City of Worthington: Seed-grant program gets boost for community projects

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group

The city of Worthington’s Community Relations Commission’s annual Neighborhood and Community Development seed-grant program received a boost in funding from the city this year, meaning the commission will have more funding to distribute to nonprofit and grassroots community-improvement projects. 

The grant program, which was started in 2008 and is going on its 13th year, received a funding boost from $1,500 to $3,000 this year. 

The Worthington Municipal Building at 6550 High St.

“This allows us to allocate even more resources than we typically do toward the seed grant,” CRC chair Eddie Pauline said. 

The grant program distributes funding for projects that align with the commission’s values and help nurture a sense of community in Worthington. 

Although the umbrella is wide for the types of projects that could be considered, Pauline said, the commission has narrowed its focus a little bit after a tumultuous 2020. 

“First and foremost, (these projects) are about improving community relationships, but we’ve taken a little bit more specific approach this year and tried to encourage people to think about projects in the domains of ones that would be exciting for youth to participate in, ones that are capturing an age-friendly theme, and then, obviously, social justice is a category we believe is more important than ever this year,” Pauline said. 

Pauline said the commission also has its eye toward programs that could demonstrate staying power within Worthington, as opposed to short-lived initiatives. 

“Any program or initiative that can demonstrate sustainability is really important,” he said. “We don’t want to fund things that are sort of going to be one-and-done type programs.” 

For example, Columbus nonprofit Seeds of Caring – which “empowers kids to create a kinder community with their hearts, hands, and minds,” according to its website – still is utilizing the resources it had received through a $400 award in 2019. 

Worthington resident Laura Hennigan, a Seeds of Caring volunteer, said the organization applied for a seed grant to help it acquire equipment for litter-cleanup efforts in public areas. This included litter grabbers, vests, gloves, trash bags, recycling bins and other items. 

“Prior to the grant, we were borrowing all our supplies,” Hennigan said. “The litter grabbers, the gloves, all this stuff, we were borrowing from the city of Columbus usually. And that required a really long drive downtown. So it was really helpful to receive the grant and be able to purchase our own supplies.” 

These supplies were used for cleanups in places like Perry Park and Slate Hill Elementary School. After a year off due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Hennigan said, these cleanup events are slated to resume in 2021. 

“Because of the grant money, we were able to engage with hundreds of kids and their families throughout the city of Columbus and learn about environmental challenges in our community and see that they’re able to make a difference by picking up litter,” she said. “This grant was definitely a catalyst for some big change.”

Applications for this year’s seed grant are due May 31. Applicants must be residents of Worthington or the Worthington Schools district to be eligible. 

Applications may be submitted online or downloaded and submitted to city personnel director Lori Trego by email at lori.trego@worthington.org.

For more information, go to worthington.org.

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve