2020 Corvallis Empowerment Grant program applications open

Corvallis Housing and Neighborhood Coordinator Tracy Oulman, center, explaining to community members like Mark Files, right, the benefits of applying for Empowerment Grants.

Tosca Ruotolo, News Contributor

The Corvallis Empowerment Grant program is open for applications until 5 p.m. on March 1.

It offers a total of $10,000 of funds to allot to the projects that, according to the City of Corvallis website, “help individuals and organizations work together to accomplish common goals that support the overall health, vitality and inclusivity of the place they call ‘home’”.

The two projects funded each year are categorized as a Neighborhood Empowerment Grant and a Community Empowerment Grant. Neighborhood grants usually focus on a specific geographic area, while community grants focus on the Corvallis community as a whole. Each grant is usually given $200-$600, and there is a wide range of projects that the winners can complete, according to a City of Corvallis packet.

Past Neighborhood Empowerment Grants include the Corvallis Multicultural Literacy Center, which used the funds to host a neighborhood block party and connect the CMLC with the Oregon State University community, according to a grant program packet. Along with this, the grant has funded public clean-ups and landscaping in places like the Grand Oaks Neighborhood and the Woodland Meadows Neighborhood.

One past Community Empowerment Grant was the International Moms Group, which gave international presentations, children’s play spaces, community engagement programs and educational opportunities to the mothers in the group.

A group of possible applicants for this year’s grants attended a workshop on Feb. 5. They gathered to brainstorm their ideas and to gather tips for applying.

Mark Files, a retired citizen scientist, was an attendee at the workshop. Files wants to obtain funding for a rainwater study.

“This is very specific to the work we’re doing,” Files said. “By being here today we’re getting the kind of support the city wants us to have.”

Corvallis Public Information Officer Patrick Rollens noted that the board—which reviews grant applications—would love to see student applicants.

“They have access to this program, and if they have a great idea for their campus community, we’d like to hear from them,” Rollens said. “And if it’s a project worth funding, they can get some money for it.”

Rollens said that great ideas can come from anywhere, and if students are interested, the Empowerment Grants Program can be an amazing opportunity to see their projects come to fruition.

“The most exciting thing about this grant program for the last three years has been just how far a little bit of cash can go,” Rollens said. “A lot of these projects only exist in someone’s notebook or in someone’s head, and it just takes a couple hundred bucks to get it moving.”

Tracy Oulman, the city housing and neighborhood coordinator who acts as a liaison between the applicants and the board, also said that it is very important for OSU students to apply for grant funding.

“I think if a student is walking around and they see an idea, or they have said, ‘oh, I wish this was here’ or ‘wouldn’t it be cool if’ or seen an opportunity to be a partner with someone off campus, but maybe don’t have a reason to do it and they need one, this money is exactly the kind of tool you could use to put those ideas into motion,” Oulman said. “We’d love to see ideas come from students. The more the merrier.”

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