A good friend of mine who owns a restaurant in my neighborhood always says that running a good business “starts at the curb.” Meaning, if you can’t keep your sidewalk clean, chances are that it will be reflected in other aspects of running and managing a business. The same goes for houses, yards, streets, and neighborhoods. Whether it’s a crumbling porch, paint-pealing house, or litter-strewn yard, there are different messages that neighborhoods emit, which is why active block clubs are so important.
It’s just as important to provide resources to block clubs, for initiatives such as community cleanups, garden planting and tending, or graffiti tag removals. One way of doing this is to offer award grants such as the ones that are part of the City’s ‘Love Your Block’ initiative.
Love Your Block has funded a total of 60 projects across 22 neighborhoods through its previous grant cycles.
The Love Your Block program was first introduced in 2018, thanks to a grant by Cities of Service. As a part of the Division of Citizen Services, the program continues to this day, with additional funding from Cities RISE.
In 2022, grants up to $1500 are available for community groups, block clubs, and small, locally-owned businesses. Eligible applicants mostly reside in the Broadway-Fillmore, Kensington-Bailey, Masten Park, Riverside, Lower West Side and Upper West Side neighborhoods, although applicants from all neighborhoods in the City of Buffalo are encouraged to apply.
“As we continue to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive Buffalo without Boundaries, I continue to support programs that leverage community engagement and volunteerism to further improve and beautify our neighborhoods,” Mayor Brown said. “This successful program provides a great opportunity for our residents to make a hands-on difference in their communities and I encourage groups and small businesses to apply. I want to thank the Division of Citizen Services for spearheading a program driven by grassroots, community-led, effort to further clean, green, and beautify Buffalo neighborhoods.”
Director of Citizen Services, Oswaldo Mestre, says “The Division of Citizen Services’ Love Your Block initiative, invites eligible Buffalo resident-led groups to apply for a block beautification project. Love Your Block provides a unique opportunity for resident-led groups to transform and beautify their neighborhood while leveraging City services. Resident-led groups (grantees) receive a grant to transform their neighborhood.”
Proposed projects must fall in one of the four categories:
Vacant Lot Activation: Community Garden/greenhouse, playground, public art installation, and recreational space
Community Space Revitalization: Repairs or modifications to community facilities (schools, community centers, park shelters, senior centers, etc.), graffiti removal and/or replacement of graffiti with a mural, planting trees and/or landscaping community facilities
Accessibility Improvements: Implementing creative lighting, replacing broken or worn out litter bins, creating/managing a “tool library” where neighborhood groups can borrow & return tools for cleanup projects
Streetscape Improvements: Community volunteer-led beautification on the business strips in the five identified target areas. This includes landscaping, art installments, pedestrian spaces, lighting improvements, and public safety
The submission deadline is Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
In addition to funding, grantees have the potential to receive support from City services. The Love Your Block program utilizes Buffalo’s AmeriCorps VISTA members who help facilitate and assist with the work of empowering volunteer-led neighborhood revitalization projects and much more.