Tuesday, June 8, the Rohnert Park City Council approved a motion that authorizes the City of Rohnert Park Foundation Board to enter into agreements for the Foundation’s Small Grants Awards program.
The Small Grants program provides grants to organizations that enhance Rohnert Park’s community for those who live, work and play in the city. This year the program will offer a total of $100,000 in varying amounts of up to $5,000 for 24 different organizations. The projects receiving funding include organizations like Habitat for Humanity, community art installations, and many educational and athletic programs for youth. Among these projects is a book vending machine at Richard Crane Elementary, the completion of a labyrinth at Santa Dorotea Park and sponsorship for a youth baseball league in Rohnert Park.
This is the foundation’s third cycle funding the Small Grants program. In May of 2017, the Foundation Board of Rohnert Park authorized a Memorandum of Understanding that allowed the Board to accept “community investment contributions” from the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. This arrangement was intended to mitigate the impact of the Graton Resort and Casino on the community. The creation of the Small Grants program, using this funding, was approved in February of 2018 and the program has been in effect since then.
Applications for the grants were open online for five weeks. By the April 23rd deadline, the program had received 37 applications, amounting to a total of $177,352 in requests. The applications were reviewed by an evaluation committee comprised of city staff, and scored according to their efficiency and impact on the community. The highest scoring applications received the most funding and others were recommended for partial funding. Twenty-four applications were approved through the Small Grants program in varying amounts. Eight applications were not recommended for funding because their requests either exceeded the program’s budget, had a limited reach to the Rohnert Park community, the organization submitted more than one application, or the organization received funding the previous year. Organizations are not allowed to receive grants two years in a row to discourage dependency on the funding.
The remaining five organizations have been recommended for funding through the American Rescue Plan Act. The City of Rohnert Park is estimated to receive $8.1 million through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Five of the proposed project applications are tied directly to Covid-19 relief and recovery. As such, they are eligible for funding through the Rescue Plan. Since there were more requests for funding through the Small Grants program than the budget allowed for, the Foundation Board staff recommended that these five programs receive $5,000 each through the American Rescue Plan, amounting to a total of $25,000. The organizations recommended for this funding were Food for Thought, which applied for a grant to deliver meals to Rohnert Park families in need, Neighbors Organized Against Hunger applied for funding for food bank donations, the Family Resource Center requested funds for emergency assistance to Rohnert Park families, the Petaluma Health Center is organizing a drive-up vaccination site that will benefit the Rohnert Park community and Raizes Collective is seeking funding for vaccine promotion.
Grants for this cycle will be awarded at the start of the new fiscal year on July 1st. Projects are required to be completed by June 30, 2022. If a project isn’t completed, the foundation asks that the funds are returned.