A new grant from the Columbus Area Future Fund aims to help usher in newcomers to the community.
“Our goal is for people to start thinking about making new community members feel more welcome,” CAFF Coordinator Deb Loseke said. “We're hoping this grant process will come up with some great ideas that will just kind of foster an environment to welcome new members. We're hoping for a long-term effect of this grant program."
Any organization, individual or group can apply for Welcoming Community grant funds; requests can range from $1 to $20,000. The goal is to fund projects that will assist in creating a feeling of belonging to the Columbus community.
“It can be used for any kind of project that communities or businesses or organizations want to come up with,” CAFF Chairwoman Dee Hanson said. “We left it really broad because we didn't want to limit anybody's creativity when it comes to putting together an idea.”
Hanson noted that CAFF had additional grant dollars left over from a recently-completed project. A total of $20,000 has been allocated for the program.
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“We were trying to find a unique and different way to utilize the grant funds that we could give out to the folks in our community,” Hanson said. “Rather than us try and set up a bunch of guidelines and rules … we decided to just pick a topic that was really important to our community, and see if people could put their brains together and come up with a really great idea.”
A Jan. 10 CAFF press release gives a number of possible ideas, including a neighborhood gathering or community celebration, free memberships to a community organization, interest groups for newcomers – like an exercise group or card club – and welcome packets or newcomer’s passports, just to name a few.
The press release also notes how a sense of belonging is essential to keeping new residents in Columbus; it’s something that the entire community can benefit from.
“Ultimately, it'll fulfill the goal of making Columbus a more welcoming place than it already is,” Hanson added.
“We just encourage everybody and anybody to think of an idea and apply for some funds.”
CAFF has given more than $900,000 into the Columbus area community since 2014, according to the Jan. 10 press release. A volunteer Fund Advisory Committee works to increase charitable giving and awards grants to local causes and projects that address emerging needs and opportunities in the Columbus area.
More information on the Welcoming Community grant and an application form can be found at columbusareafuturefund.org. Applications are due by March 1. Questions can be directed to Loseke at 402-606-6783.
“We hope the results are some really great out-of-the-box ideas,” Loseke said.
Hannah Schrodt is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at email@example.com.