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Love Your Block, $500 grants offered to neighborhood projects

Large amounts of money aren't always necessary to make big changes in a community. And to prove that point the City of Pittsburgh and the Home Depot Foundation are awarding several nonprofit groups $500 grants for neighborhood beautification projects.

These projects can range from transforming vacant lots into productive community gardens, to trash and debris removal, to simple fresh coats of paint on time-worn structures. But no matter the idea, applicants should be inventive and neighborhood specific.

"The idea is that local groups and residents will know best what a particular block needs," says Rebecca Kottler-Wein, chief service officer in the mayor's office. "We're looking for creativity in applications."

Known as Love Your Block, this revitalization project is part of Mayor Ravenstahl's servePGH initiative. As a member of the Cities of Service coalition, servePGH is the mayor's blueprint for using volunteerism and civic engagement to address municipal challenges.

Community nonprofits have until 5 p.m. today to complete the Love Your Block grant applications. In addition to the funds provided by the Home Depot Foundation, Kottler-Wein says city services will be available to help organizations complete their projects.

Up to 10  projects will be selected and are scheduled to be completed in the fall. A second round of projects will be funded next year, with a call for applications to be announced later this year.

Kottler-Wein says the city is thrilled to have this project. "This is a strategy that's worked well in other cities," she says. "Our hope is that through this collaboration we'll really be able to see physical improvements in ten city blocks this fall."

Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Rebecca Kottler-Wein
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