By Jackie Chase
For The Diamondback
The College Park City Council will give $6,000 in grants toward local nonprofits serving the community.
The city budgeted $20,000 for these community service grants, and received seven requests amounting to $16,500. However, after reviewing the applications, the city is granting a total of $6,000 dispersed among three of the applicants.
During Tuesday's worksession, Mayor Patrick Wojahn facilitated the discussion between council members, several of whom also served on a subcommittee that made recommendations on which nonprofits should receive grant money. These subcommittee members include District 2 Councilman Monroe Dennis, District 3 Councilman Robert Day and District 4 Councilwoman Dustyn Kujawa.
"We have several different ways that people can get grants from the city, and the community service grant is a system that has been in place for a while," Day said. "We need to update it. We are in the process of looking at how we can integrate it into one grant process instead of five to six."
The council also discussed streamlining the grant process, and said it may change some of the rules, as well as the process itself, over the course of the next few months. Some council members are in favor of removing the grant process from the council, and allocating these funds to the city's community foundation.
Several of this year's grant applicants were determined to be ineligible, Day said, as they were already receiving money from the city. This community funding program gives out grants up to $2,500 to nonprofits; however, the recipient organization cannot receive additional funds from the city.
"I think the community service grant program is a good one," Wojahn said. "It's a great way for the city to support the work that our local nonprofit organizations are doing."
The city discussed granting the money to several local programs, including the Miss College Park Scholarship Pageant, the Lakeland All-Stars basketball program and the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church's Safe Haven program for the homeless.
The council is expected to vote on the grants Feb. 13.
The council's subcommittee recommended a grant of $2,000 for the Miss College Park Scholarship Pageant, which, if granted, will be given to the pageant's winner to use toward furthering her education, said Angie Rodriguez, the executive director of the pageant.
"Participating in a competition where you're competing against others kind of helps you hone in on what you need to do to present yourself well and work to stand out," Rodriguez said. "Those kinds of skills are very helpful when you are going looking for a job."
The Holy Redeemer Church would use the grant toward a Safe Haven shelter, which will house homeless individuals during the winter months, said Bob Wassmann, the co-coordinator of the Safe Haven for the homeless program.
In addition, the Lakeland All-Stars basketball program, which is a part of the Embry Center for Family Life, would use its anticipated $2,500 grant toward its summer league, said Rev. Edna Jenkins, the center's director.
"Some of the children had no desire or thoughts of going to college. But we instilled that dream in them. We also try to do life skills with them," Jenkins said. "I think its been, the structure has been good for them."