Use of small grants in Boston during the early years of Making Connections helped to clarify the elements of a complex community change initiatve by putting residents in charge of the funds. Residents built capacity by deciding how to use resident-selected short-term, small dollar projects ($2,000 to $5,000) to authentically engage neighborhoods in – and build local leadership for – longer-term community change efforts.
1. Develop a strong panel of residents to direct the grant making.
2. Train and educate both the residents who make the grant decisions and those who get the grants.
3. Work together to come up with grant criteria.
4. Work at getting the word out.
5. Provide good staff support and technical assistance.
Statements & Quotations
If you want people to be involved and to see your intentions as honest and that you mean what you say, this is a way to do it. You are saying to people that, ‘We want you to have your own stake in this. We want you to participate because it is meeting some of the needs you want it to meet right away.
– Garland Yates, Site Team Leader, Making Connections Boston, and Making Connections Denver.
If you’re going to give people power, then let them have it. You have to learn how to let people ask their questions and not be led — no leading the witness.
– Che’ Madyun, Coordinator, Boston Family Strengthening Small Grants Fund.