Neighborhoods prep for Vikings grants

Sixteen local organizations have until the end of next month to apply for a grant from the Good Neighbor Fund.

Barry Lytton

As the Minnesota Vikings football team wraps up its inaugural season at TCF Bank Stadium, neighborhood groups are pulling together grant proposals for the pot of money the team donates to the University of Minnesota area.

This year, 16 local organizations are eligible to apply for the Good Neighbor Fund, whose 2014 and 2015 grant cycles swelled to $132,000 thanks to two yearly $90,000 grants from the Vikings.

With the due date for grant applications coming up at the end of next month, University neighborhood groups are exploring a wide swath of ideas for projects they may want to undertake using GNF funds.

A six-member panel will decide which projects have visible, tangible and long-term impacts, and it will make allocations next July.

The Southeast Como Improvement Association’s director, Ricardo McCurley, said the neighborhood group is just beginning to write its requests and is still whittling down a list of ideas.

A leading idea now, he said, is hosting a run, which would likely be a 5K race hosted by SECIA and the University’s Neighborhood Liaison program.

“We’ve talked about it being a fun pollinator run — we get everyone to dress up as bees and butterflies and do a fun run through campus,” he said.

SECIA is also thinking of reapplying for funding to continue its Van Cleve Park programming, McCurley said, though he doubts the GNF would repeat its previous $25,900 allocation.

“They look for innovative things and new things,” he said. “Continuing funds are not up their alley.”

The Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association is also in the brainstorming phase for GNF grant applications, communications director Chris Lautenschlager said.

Lautenschlager said the majority of the group’s discussion has centered on requesting more funding for an ongoing project aimed at getting more Minneapolitans on the Dinkytown Greenway, an effort that received $42,500 from the GNF last year.

Phill Kelly, the West Bank Community Coalition’s interim executive director, said the organization is looking to continue supporting area youth programming, like it did last year with $8,000 for a Cedar-Riverside Explorers project.

Kelly said he’s supportive of another Cedar-Riverside group’s possible grant application — a West Bank Business Association idea to spruce up the space behind Malabari Kitchen with new painting, pathways, lighting and plants.

“It’s an area that gets a lot of trash throwing in it,” Kelly said.

Steve Cross is leading the Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association’s main GNF application,  which asks for a grant to build a community oven that he said has been 18 months in the making.

He said he likes the organization’s chances at nabbing GNF funding for the project now that it has the Twin Cities’ Archdiocese’s official approval to construct the brick structure at the St. Frances Cabrini Church on Franklin Avenue Southeast.

“They want something that’s permanent,” he said, “and this is a brick, stone and cement object. There’s nothing more permanent than a community oven.”