Living in Salt Lake during a boom in growth, it is important that we all feel we can identify with the community we live in, we’re all working to establish a sense of ownership and pride in our streets. Salt Lake City has created numerous programs to support our ability to keep our neighborhoods well maintained such as the Call-2-Haul Program, where the city will pick up your accumulated garbage on demand, or the SLC Mobile App, where you can report issues you see around the city. Now Mayor Mendenhall’s office is taking additional steps to better empower Salt Lake residents to tackle community wide projects with the Love Your Block Program.
The Love Your Block program, a new initiative funded through Cities of Service and the Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation, allows Salt Lake City residents to apply for mini grants between $250 and $2,500 to partner with neighbors and volunteers to improve their community. Have you been eyeballing that vacant lot on your block with visions of a community garden or a weed free gathering place where neighborhood kids can play? The city is ready to help you find the resources and support you need to make it happen.
Applicants can apply for support for any number of projects. For example, some of the recent grant recipients included The Glendale Community Center expanding outdoor seating for activities offered in their community garden, the Central Church of the Nazarene fixing up their playground, and the Jayhawks Youth Group creating a tool-lending shed in Rose Park so neighbors can use tools for home projects that they may not have access to otherwise. Each of these projects were awarded to support the wider impact they would each have on their community.
Katie Riser, Special Projects and Volunteer Manger with the mayor’s office, said, “The goal is to fuel resident lead initiatives to support their communities.”
This isn’t necessarily the place to apply for rent or utility assistance, support with business fees, or food costs, which may be covered by other city programs, Riser added, “this is really for community improvement.”
In trying to make sure that all Salt Lakers feel supported and empowered in their community, regardless of where they live, the mayor’s office is targeting West Salt Lake in this effort to ensure that Westsiders feel they have a voice, feel heard in their community, and feel that they have the tools to create the change they would like to see. “The goal is really to keep the barrier and bar to any kind of project low,” Riser said. “You don’t have to be a grant writer or savvy writer to apply. There is a team to help.”
The city has tried to foresee any challenges an applicant may encounter and created a very accommodating process to apply. Applications can be accepted in various languages, and applicants can even submit their proposal as a video if they would be more comfortable. The program will aid applicants in finding volunteers, tools, and other resources for their projects as well. Even if a project proposal isn’t accepted by the city, they’ll still work with communities to make sure that issues are addressed. If you don’t have a project in mind, but would like to support a community project, the city will help to connect you with volunteer opportunities supporting projects in your neighborhood.
This is currently a pilot program, having received funding through Fall 2023, but Riser is hopeful that the project will be successful and receive additional funding.
The next grant cycle opens in December. Anyone interested in applying can find the application, a detailed project timeline, FAQ, allowable projects, and other guidance at www.slc.gov/mayor/love-your-block. Paper applications can also be picked up and dropped off at city libraries or the City Building, or the city will pick up applications from an applicant’s location.