By Seth Daniel
The Charlestown Community Impact Fund committee voted on Tuesday to release almost $180,000 to 41 non-profits in the Town after getting barraged with 57 requests for more than $900,000 in the opening round of grant dispersals that comes from the licensing fee paid by Wynn Boston Harbor.
State Rep. Dan Ryan and Councilor Sal LaMattina said the Fund held a public meeting on Tuesday evening to vote on the requests and the amounts awarded in this first round. A second round of monies will be dispersed in October, Ryan said, with an application deadline in September.
The Committee has not officially announced all of the awards to the grantees, so the list has not yet become public.
“I think what you will see when the awards are announced is that we took great pains in trying to spread the wealth,” said Ryan. “We are not trying to create competition in the neighborhood but foster cohesiveness and build capacity in our local organizations. The idea of this fund is to help those who help others – to make fundraising for our not-for-profits a little easier as the community deals with bigger issues such as traffic and construction. Our vision is to develop this process over the next two years so that we can make long lasting positive impacts down the road. I thank Mayor Walsh’s office, in particular the Office of Administration Finance and Neighborhood Services for keeping us on task. This first round will help a little now and a whole lot in the future.”
Mayor Martin Walsh said he fought against the casino to get these kinds of grants and community benefits to mitigate the change the casino will bring.
“These grants are why I fought to negotiate the largest community benefit we could obtain from the Wynn Casino,” said the mayor. “My priority has always been to protect and preserve the quality of life of the residents of Charlestown. The Charlestown Community Impact Fund represents my administration’s continued work on behalf of the people of Charlestown. These funds will go to programs that make up the heart and soul of our communities, and I’m proud these 41 grants will positively impact so many residents.”
LaMattina has said in previous meetings that they would like to keep the dispersals down to $150,000 two times a year. That’s because the fund has only $1 million in it, and nothing will be added to it until the casino opens in June 2019.
On that date, the casino will begin contributing around $2 million per year to the Fund to be used for non-profits and other stipulated projects. The current $1 million is stipulated for use just by Charlestown non-profits.
Of those that applied, most got awards of $1,000, $2,500, $5,000 and three got the highest award of $10,000.
The highest three awards went to the Boys & Girls Club, the YMCA Charlestown and the Kennedy Center.
The sports programs mostly got $5,000 each.
Ryan said the award levels are pretty similar to what organizations are used to through other community mitigation funds, including those dispersed by the Charlestown Neighborhood Council (CNC). Some organizations did not get any money, though, and the City officials said they would be reaching out to those organizations and applicants to help them in future rounds.
Two hang-ups were churches that applied for programs that could be interpreted as only benefitting the church community – such as one applicant that requested funds to help renovate their church sanctuary – and applicants that put in for money to start a program that didn’t yet exist.
Ryan said the committee agreed to continue thinking about those two areas and how they would be handled in future dispersals. There could be church programs that would be funded in the future, and there could be some great new start-up programs that are worthy of funding to get off the ground.
Applicants are encouraged to begin working on the second-round applications as soon as possible, as they will be due in September and will be dispersed in October.