Highland Park’s “Park Partners Community Grant” program, now in its fourth year, just announced the 2017 group of “winning” projects, each one receiving a $2,000 grant to be used on an initiative that will improve the quality of life of Highland Park residents. Park Partners is a municipal give-back program funded with $10,000 of taxpayer dollars and is open to individual residents, businesses, and non-profit organizations. The grants are awarded in five categories: arts, universal access/health & wellness, safety, culture & diversity, and environment.
This year’s Community Grant recipients are:
- Arts: Outdoor Movie Theater (Program will present movies on Saturday night in the municipal lot throughout the spring and summer.)
- Universal Access/Health & Wellness: EduCutHunger (Program will educate community about food insecurity and teach residents how to help resolve it.)
- Safety: The Cave Afterschool Program (Grant will help this program purchase safe gym supplies, games, and other supplies for the children who attend this afterschool program.)
- Culture & Diversity: OQ Community Gallery and Arts Events (Program will help expand the local coffee shop’s art gallery. It will include art shows and game night featuring diverse artwork from local and nearby artists, and cultural events and activities throughout the year.)
- Environment: Raices EcoCulture Sustainable Living Workshop Series (Program will hold eight interactive workshops for the community to learn about sustainability, environment and ecology
After the applications are received, residents attend a voting party and cast ballots for one program in each category. The most recent voting session on February 12 attracted a record number of more than 300 participants who were judging among 17 community projects.
All applicants benefit by learning how to write a grant application, and winners learn how the municipal government operates, by working with borough employees and the municipal finance department.
“This is truly participatory government at work,” said Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler. “It is inspiring to see so many residents present projects to benefit our community and caring enough in Highland Park to come out and vote.”
Past winners include Emergency Radios for senior citizens and disabled residents, diversity and environmental workshop programs, and a number of programs created and implemented by high school students, including a coupon program supporting Highland Park’s Community Food Bank, the High School Orchestra, and more.