Noting that COVID-19 has delayed their efforts to roll out the larger Community Mitigation Fund (provided by Wynn Resorts) guidelines, the City’s Committee overseeing the Fund announced this week they are launching a short, mid-winter funding round to support non-profits and community organizations in the Town.
The Fund has grown substantially over the past 18 months, with two annual payments of $2 million successfully made by the Encore Boston Harbor casino, a derivative of Wynn Resorts. That new money also comes with an expanded focus for the money beyond the process to support non-profits that began in 2017. However, in dealing with COVID-19 responses, the City and the Committee have not made a lot of progress in drawing up the new guidelines for the Fund’s expanded focus to include non-profit/community organization support along with three other priorities.
That said, the Mayor’s Office and the Financial Departments in the City announced a short mid-winter grant round for non-profits and community organizations – a round that will replace what would have taken place earlier this year.
“Over the past few months, the City of Boston has been focused on responding to and combating the COVID-19 pandemic and protecting the safety and well-being of all its residents,” read a letter sent out this week. “While diligently focused on this work, the City remains committed to supporting the work of the Fund and of the nonprofits and community organizations that are providing critical services and programming to Charlestown residents. Therefore, we will be moving forward with a small, one-time Winter 2020-2021 grant round to ensure that these resources continue to be invested into the community and support those most in need.”
The Committee indicated the primary focus of the Winter grant round will be to continue to direct resources towards supporting Charlestown’s non-profits, parks, after-school activities, senior programs, job training programs, cultural events and related activities that promote Charlestown’s heritage, quality of life, recreational and cultural activities, as outlined in the Managing Committee’s Guidelines. However, one new aspect is that applicants are being asked to answer some application questions that endeavor to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Charlestown organizations so that the Managing Committee has an understanding of this and can reflect on it as well while evaluating applications.
Applications for this grant round became available this week on Tuesday, December 29. Prospective applicants can find the application posted on boston.gov/charlestown-fund or email [email protected] for a copy of it. The deadline to submit applications will be Friday, January 29, 2021 at 4 p.m. The fund will award grants of up to $20,000 – as it has done in the past.
To protect the safety of all applicants with the COVID-19 pandemic, applications should be submitted via the webpage at boston.gov/charlestown-fund, by email to [email protected] or by mail to the Office or Administration & Finance, Boston City Hall Room 608, Boston, MA 02201. Applications must be postmarked by Friday, January 29, 2021 in order to be accepted. If other arrangements need to be made, please contact [email protected].
While this current round of funding takes place, the Committee said it will continue working on the outline of the larger, new program. To date, there would appear to be more than $4 million in the fund – as Encore paid $2 million in Sept. 2019 and is believed to have paid the second $2 million this past summer. Those are payments outlined in the City’s Surrounding Community Agreement (SCA) with the casino.
The new guidelines will focus on four possible funding areas, including:
•Supporting Charlestown’s non-profits, parks, after school activities, senior programs, job training programs, cultural events and related activities that promote Charlestown’s heritage, quality of life, recreational and cultural activities;
•Improvements to the facilities within the City to facilitate water transportation and to fund staffing and other public safety initiatives related to increased use of water transportation in the Boston Harbor related to the project;
•Staffing and other public safety initiatives related to increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the City related to the Project following the opening date, and;
•Any other impacts, including any transportation infrastructure impacts and the Sullivan Square Infrastructure Project.
The Committee indicated it will continue working on the new plan, and could start making awards under those new guidelines in the first half of 2021.
“The Managing Committee has been diligently working to develop a plan to re-launch the Fund’s grant program to align with the increased funding and additional programmatic uses,” read the letter. “However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the re-launch of the program has been delayed. The Managing Committee intends to finalize the details of the new program and provide the Charlestown neighborhood with an update and information regarding the re-launch of application rounds in late winter 2021.”
In closing, the Committee wrote that so many of the non-profits and community organizations they have funded over the past three years have provided a safety net and/or sense of normalcy of the Town during the last 10, difficult months. They wrote that they thanked them and looked forward to helping those efforts with this current round.
“This has been a challenging time for many in Charlestown and across our city,” they wrote. “Communities across the globe have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Every industry and sector has been affected. Many community based organizations have been working hard to adapt their programming and service delivery to adhere to public health guidance and continue to serve those in need.
“We want to thank each and every one of you for all that you do in service to the Charlestown community and the city of Boston,” it continued. “We look forward to receiving and reviewing your grant applications.”
If there are any questions about the Fund or application, contact [email protected] for guidance.