BY GABE HERMAN | The West Side Community Fund announced its inaugural class of grant recipients, with $226,628 going to 28 organizations in Chelsea and Hells Kitchen.
Announcements were made at a March 6 reception at Hudson Guild, where the more than two-dozen groups were given checks. Award amounts ranged from $2,500 to $30,000.
The fund was launched last year by 20 businesses in the Chelsea and Hudson Yards neighborhoods. Among the group’s founding members are Google, Related/Oxford Hudson Yards, Warner Media LLC and Wells Fargo.
Each business member contributed $25,000 to start the fund. The effort’s stated purpose is to spread economic benefits and better services throughout the community, as the area is seeing big development projects and investments. This includes grants to projects for youth, seniors, the homeless, L.G.B.T.Q. initiatives, food pantries and arts/culture programs.
Grant recipients included Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, which will offer a Sunday Family Supper for multigenerational family members, P.S. 33 students and seniors from the Penn South Co-op.
Grants also went to Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Elders, Inc. (SAGE), Keoni Movement Arts, Housing Conservation Coordinators, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, and Say Ah!, the latter which will train healthcare providers to teach vulnerable communities about health issues.
Anna J. Allen, executive director and co-founder of Say Ah!, said in a statement that it was an honor to be selected for a grant.
“We are thrilled that the businesses that share our community also share our values of supporting the most vulnerable amongst us, particularly those who struggle to manage their health and healthcare,” she said.
Among other grant recipients was Feel the Music!, which will offer a six-week drumming workshop for blind and visually impaired students of Selis Manor, a residence for the visually impaired and physically impaired on W. 23rd St.
The P.S. 11 PTA will use its award to provide equal access to its STEM Robotics Program, expanding its first Lego League team to include 10 more students who cannot afford to participate.
Penn South Social Services will use the grant money to provide personal-care services for seniors in the early stages of dementia who need support completing regular daily activities.
The Kitchen will organize Youth Electronic Studio, a new after-school program providing high-quality music experiences to underserved middle school students.
The Fulton Houses and Elliott-Chelsea tenants associations also received grants.
The application and review process for the grants was managed by the nonprofit Citizens Committee for New York City, which focuses on delivering micro-grants to community organizations in underserved areas.
The nonprofit’s C.E.O., Peter Kostmayer, hailed the grants’ impact as “huge.”
“As the West Side continues its incredible growth, it’s vital that every resident has an opportunity to improve the quality of life in their neighborhood,” he said. “This funding will help make a huge difference in the lives of countless residents and local groups.”
The fund reached out to more than 400 local community leaders in soliciting grant proposals. The fund’s board was also assisted by an Electeds Advisory Board that included City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, state Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
“The West Side Community Fund should be proud that, from legal support for tenants to community theater to homeless services and PTAs, these grants cover services and programs for all West Side residents,” Nadler said.
Another grant recipient is the City Bar Justice Center, which will create a hotline to give free legal assistance to residents.
The center’s executive director, Lynn M. Kelly, said, “Thanks to the West Side Community Fund and the Citizens Committee for New York City, we can increase convenient access to justice in this neighborhood by informing residents how to handle their legal issues related to housing, family law, consumer debt and other day-to-day challenges affecting their rights, and making appropriate referrals when legal advice is not enough.”
The plan is for the fund to have two rounds of grants every year. The next grant opportunity is expected to be announced at the end of this month.