On Sept. 16 the Rohnert Park Foundation will open up the application process for small grants to benefit the Rohnert Park community. Last year was the first year the foundation distributed the grants, whose money comes from the Graton Casino mitigation community investment funds – non-guaranteed funds for community investment that is tied to the success of the casino.
“Last year was the first time the foundation has been able to do this,” says Leonardo Tacata, Senior Analyst for the City of Rohnert Park. “It really was a pleasure interfacing and interacting between the community groups and the foundation board. It was also a lot more work than we anticipated. But we have an assistant now so this year we think there’s going to be more groups and more activity out of the foundation.”
The total amount given this year will be the same - $100,000, with each individual grant up to $5,000. Last year 26 grants were distributed to various organizations ranging from ArtStart designing a mural for the Senior Center, to Daily Acts conducting creek clean-up projects, to the Rohnert Park Pickleball Club upgrading and maintaining the city’s new pickleball courts, to name a few. The foundation feels that the small grants spread the funds to smaller groups that do not traditionally seek funding from larger foundations.
“We think we’ll get a lot of attention this year,” says Tacata. “I’ve already got people who’ve emailed me or have been coming in asking if they can pick up applications yet. There is great interest in this thing.”
Organizations that apply do not need to be a 501c3 nonprofit. However, one criterion for the funding is that it is to be used for specific projects and events that exemplify the city’s vision to “make our community a safe place to live, work, and play.” Therefore, individuals and organizations are not allowed to receive funding in consecutive years and organizations should not rely on this money for future funding.
“These really are small grants in that they hopefully inspire folks in the community to think about a project they want to do in Rohnert Park, and make it as relatively easy for them as possible,” says Tacata. “The focus is going to be more on small projects that can be completed within a year. That is really in the spirit of what the foundation board had directed the previous year. They were more interested in projects that didn’t rely on year over year funding, such as one-time money for building a park, making flags, painting a building, or things like that.”
This year the foundation specifically changed the application time period to be in the fall, so that more schools in the community could participate.
“There’s a reason it started a little later [this year],” says Tacata. “It’s because we’re trying something different. The first series that went out really didn’t capture the school groups because a lot of student parent organizations are closing out by June and don’t pick up again until September and they really didn’t have a chance to apply the first time. So we’ve moved it a quarter forward.”
The application deadline is October 18. Successful applicants will be selected through a competitive process and will most likely learn the results by the end of November. To learn more or apply visit www.rpcity.org/SGP.