By John Sharp
KCMO has launched an ambitious new ReBuild KC Neighborhood Grants program that will use funds from the federal American Rescue Plan and other sources to pay or help pay for a wide variety of projects to improve neighborhoods in the city.
Examples of projects that the city announced are eligible for the program include providing:
- Affordable housing & services for the homeless
- Blight elimination
- Crime & violence reduction
- Energy sustainability/efficiency such as tree planting or solar panels
- Employment training & job creation
- Health initiatives
- Sidewalk construction or repair
“All we ask is your project clearly demonstrate a benefit to Kansas Citians,” said Forest Decker, director of the Neighborhoods & Community Services Department that will administer the program, who noted in an interview that program eligibility is not limited to the announced examples.
Program funds must be spent only for activities in KCMO and must have a community or public purpose.
Companies, homes associations, individuals, neighborhood groups, nonprofits and other organizations are encouraged to apply to participate. Decker said since the program was announced on January 27, 25 applications had already been received by February 2nd.
Applications for the first round of funding must be received by February 22. Decker said he hopes grants will begin being approved in March so projects can quickly get underway, although they will not all be awarded at once. He said there will be at least one more round for applications and approvals.
Applications will be evaluated by a committee of top level city staff including the directors of the Neighborhoods, Parks & Recreation and Public Works Departments, according to Decker.
Groups and individuals may go online to KCMO.gov/rebuildkc for more information and to apply. A question and answer sheet will be added soon, Decker said.
The application form asks for the project description and its anticipated benefits, the amount of the grant request and the total budget for the project, any project partners and the neighborhood(s) most impacted by the project. Up to three letters of support may be attached.
While cost-sharing and providing in-kind services are welcomed for projects, Decker said cost sharing really isn’t necessary for smaller projects in the $1,000-$5,000 range, and a lot of smaller projects may be funded through other existing city programs that applicants may not have been aware of.
Projects selected for further consideration may be asked to provide additional information. The program announcement said selected projects should demonstrate how they will strengthen interactions among community/neighborhood residents, improve neighborhood quality and livability and/or support economic development.
Decker said he anticipates at least $5 million will be available for the program during its first year of operation that will come primarily from American Rescue Plan Coronavirus State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.
He said he hopes the program will continue from year to year as long as it can demonstrate its success, and the city manager, mayor and city council all appear to be very supportive.
“We are really excited about this program being able to make real ground level positive changes in neighborhoods,” Decker said.