Last week my 7th grade students and I submitted an application for a $2500 grant to reduce the amount of trash and rats in our community of Hunts Point and Longwood in the Bronx. Citizens Committee for New York City is an incredible organization that awards Neighborhood Grants to groups of community members who want to improve something in their neighborhood. Their website says, “Through our Neighborhood Grants, Citizens Committee awards micro-grants of up to $3,000 to resident-led groups to work on community and school projects throughout the city. We prioritize groups based in low-income neighborhoods and Title I public schools. Recent awards have enabled neighbors to come together to make healthy food available in their communities, transform empty lots into community gardens, organize tenants to advocate for better housing conditions, and start school recycling drives.” I’m hopeful that we get the grant and inspired by my young adolescents who saw a need in their community and collectively cam together to brainstorm ways to fix it. As one of my students shared, “I shouldn’t have to walk past a dead cat on my way to school.”
Read a bit of our grant application below and let us know in the comments section what experience you’ve had with students and community-based projects. How do you create an authentic audience for your students and their writing?
AN EXCERPT FROM OUR APPLICATION
Please briefly describe your group’s purpose, history, and accomplishments (maximum: two short paragraphs).
We are a group of seventh graders who are scholar activists. We are all amazing students who are willing to help clean up our community because we are tired of seeing rats running and trash laying around. Our group name is Beauty of the Bronx and our purpose is to improve and beautify our neighborhoods of Hunts Point and Longwood. We don’t really have any history because we are new to this and this is something we have never done before. In our English Language Arts class we are completing a unit on scholar activism. One of our guiding questions is, “How can we improve our community?” So far we have learned about a number of scholar activists and how they have improved their communities. We don’t have a lot of accomplishments yet but are hopeful that with this grant we can accomplish a lot in Hunts Point and Longwood.
Describe your project and its goals (maximum one page).
Beauty of the Bronx is a community-based effort to clean up the Hunts Point and Longwood communities of the Bronx. We plan to do a number of things to clean up the streets and decrease the rat population in our neighborhoods. Some of these things include:
- Holding community meetings to share information and solicit community input about best ways to reduce the amount of trash and number of rats in our communities.
- Holding fun and lively spring community clean up days where volunteers come together to clean up the streets of Hunts Point and Longwood.
- Increasing the number of trash cans in our community and working with the Sanitation Department to paint new and existing trash cans bright colors so they stand out and people are drawn to them.
- Creating and putting up colorful signs in the community to remind people to throw trash in cans and curb their dogs.
- Increasing the number of tree guards and flowers around trees so that people are less likely to throw their trash there.
- Creating posts with bags for people to use to clean up after their dogs poop on the ground.
- Going to local schools, bodegas, and community organizations to do teach-ins about the trash and rat problem in our neighborhood and share ways that people can become involved.
Our goals are to 1) decrease the amount of trash thrown on the ground, 2) decrease the rat population, 3) increase the number of trash cans, 4) educate people about the dangers of trash and rats, and 5) encourage people to join our campaign.