What is it? Mini-grants are small amounts of money provided to individuals or organizations seeking to lead a program or project in the community. Grant amounts vary greatly but are often $1000 or less. Funds may be directed towards specific problems, such as community cleanups or transportation initiatives. Grants may also be made available for general community development programs. The programs can encourage innovation from citizens and smaller community groups, introduce groups to the world of grant writing, and provide project planning and management experiences and skill development. As such, even small amounts of money encourage citizens to engage in innovative solutions to community problems.
How has it been used? Tompkins County, New York is home to SustainableTompkins, an organization focused on creating long-term well-being for the community. The organization offers a Neighborhood Mini-grants program which provides seed money for individuals or organizations. Applicants present their ideas for creating a more sustainable community. The program provides amounts ranging from $150 to $750, to support the most promising of these ideas. Previous grants have supported programs of all kinds including community gardens, at-risk youth programs, and the establishment of a community quilting group. These ideas, which might never have become a reality without the seed funding, are now helping create a better community. (Source: SustainableTompkins)