Making a neighborhood look better is an important way to uplift the community, and Prince George's County officials are putting money behind this belief.
The Redevelopment Authority of Prince George's County is offering $250,000 in Community Impact Grants to community organizations with projects that will make a visual improvement to local neighborhoods.
"We are really looking for tangible, tactile, visible improvement," said Howard Ways, executive director of the authority.
He said the projects can range from beautification activities such as sod improvements to installation of banners and signage.
"In many instances, a small infusion of capital dollars can take a community project from the planning phase to implementation," said Ways.
Grants must be used for capital purposes such as the purchase of equipment and materials and cannot be used for operations, salaries or personnel. Proposed projects must fall into one of two categories: Neighborhood Beautification or Environment or Natural Resources and Sustainability. Grants can only be used for capital expenses related to the implementation of a community-based project.
"I think everyone gets excited when they see physical improvements to their community. It's one way of getting people to believe in what you are doing," said Ways, who added that it builds community support and can also help to strengthen the organization doing the work. "We really hope this is a program that communities will be excited to apply for. I hope we have several quality applications to choose from."
Organizations eligible to apply for the grants must be 501c3 charities located in the county, and the projects also must take place in the county.
Ways said that a similar grant program existed years ago.
"We felt it was a good opportunity to bring this type of activity back into the fold," he said.
Individual grants will be awarded in amounts not exceeding $50,000. Successful applicants will have up to one year from the date of the grant agreement to complete the project and to spend the grant funds. The grants also require a match from non-Prince George's County government sources, which can include in-kind and cash contributions.
Officials hope to have the funds spent by June 2013, the end of the fiscal year.