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If Your Central Baltimore Community Needs Sprucing Up, CBP Is Willing To Give Helping Hand

Ursula V. Battle | 4/12/2019, 6 a.m.
Does your neighborhood need some sprucing up? Perhaps there is a building you believe could use a fresh, inviting façade ...
With the help of a $24,299 “Spruce-Up” grant and community support, the once drab exterior of the Greenmount Recreation Center located at 2304 Greenmount Avenue was transformed into an inviting building that seemingly lights up the entire neighborhood. Courtesy Photo/Central Baltimore Partnership

Grant applications will be accepted until May 3, 2019

Does your neighborhood need some sprucing up? Perhaps there is a building you believe could use a fresh, inviting façade or a coat of paint? Maybe, a vacant lot across the way could use a community garden. Whatever that sprucing up might entail, the Central Baltimore Partnership (CBP) Community Spruce-Up program could be just the ‘helping hand’ you need to beautify your community.

CPB is launching another applicant round of its successful Community Spruce-Up program. Since 2012, CBP has supported neighborhood-driven, capital improvement projects in public spaces in Central Baltimore through this program. The application deadline for the grant is May 3, 2019.

CBP is a ten-year-old nonprofit with over 100 partners who together achieve a comprehensive strategy for community revival in 11 Central Baltimore neighborhoods. CBP helps neighborhood leaders and other partners identify opportunities for community enhancement, assess project feasibility, and mobilize collaboration between public and private partners.

With funding from Johns Hopkins University and the Baltimore Regional Neighborhoods Initiative of Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development, CBP awards grants ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 to groups, individuals, and associations in Central Baltimore.

These areas include Abell, Barclay; Charles North; Charles Village; Greenmount West; Harwood; Oakenshawe; Old Goucher; Remington; Wyman Park; the Waverly Main Street commercial district; the Jones Falls area; and most recently the East Baltimore Midway community. Conceived in 2014 in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, the program was launched with the support of the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.

“We have raised the funding pool, have done community outreach and have hosted Spruce-Up workshops,” said Aaron Kaufman, Community Projects Manager for CBP. “We invite people to come in with their idea and questions. We want to make sure we are getting the word out about this grant, are receiving eligible projects, and receive feedback.

“We also want people to be well-supported with their projects to bring them into existence. It’s been interesting and rewarding to see the evolution.”

One example of this evolution is the Greenmount Recreation Center Facade Project. Through a $24,299 Spruce-Up Grant, this community-led project came to fruition. The once drab exterior of the Greenmount Recreation Center located at 2304 Greenmount Avenue was transformed into an inviting building that seemingly lights up the entire neighborhood.

“The Greenmount Rec Center came with partner organizations and residents,” said Kaufman. “They all wanted to create a more welcoming space. The great work of this center was being done on the inside, but it was not being shown on the outside. Artist Andy Dahl did the primary installation, but the community worked to paint the lower level. There was a lot of community engagement. The Center is an example of what can happen when agencies, neighborhood leaders, and others all come together for public benefit. It’s all about partnership.”

Spruce-Up Grants are intended to provide matching resources to stimulate improvements, leverage community assets, and provide auxiliary support for projects.

As a compliment to the program, six other organizations in Baltimore City are now replicating the Community Spruce-Up Program with their guidance, including Southeast CDC, Belair Edison, and the Greater Baybrook Alliance.

“We make sure the other six are set up for success,” said Kaufman. “That is where we are now.

“The creativity that comes from these groups is astounding. The grants also emphasize leadership development and capacity building. We see projects where someone thought of an idea, and because they were supported, the project happened. From there, that individual took on other broader, leadership roles beyond their block.

“Forty-nine projects have been funded from 2014 to 2018. Spruce-Up grants help to show people they can make a difference in their communities, and we are here to help support them.”

The criteria for being awarded a Spruce-Up grant includes being a non-profit, being a small business or being a fiscally-sponsored organization, and that the idea be a capital improvement project, according to Kaufman.

For additional information or to apply for a Spruce-Up grant, call Aaron Kaufman at 443-681-7098 or email: akaufman@centralbaltimore.org, or visit their website: www.centralbaltimore.org/spruce-up2019.