Few can claim the job title “Happiness Maker,” but Nicole Storey can and she does.
Storey is the city of Charlotte’s neighborhood and community partnerships manager and the executive director of Keep Charlotte Beautiful.
Her role revolves around helping connect people with money to improve their neighborhoods — and her joy for it is palpable.
If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and have a few good men (and women) to take part in improving your neighborhood, the city offers numerous funding and training opportunities. Nicole outlined them to me.
Check them out.
Adopt a City Street
As neighborhoods begin to work together on improvement projects, many choose to apply first to adopt a street — kind of like fostering a dog before taking the leap of full-fledged ownership.
The effort required: Three annual cleanups, standardized reporting after each cleanup and a two-year commitment. You do get your group’s name on signs, though.
Nicole refers to this as the “gateway drug” before diving headfirst into the city’s grant program for larger projects.
Learn more here.
Neighborhood Matching Grants Program
This program offers up to $25,000 for neighborhood improvement projects.
Since 1993, the city of Charlotte has funded 842 projects, with a 95%+ approval rate.
Examples of projects:
- Tree planting
- Neighborhood entrance sign improvements
- Community gardens
- Park improvements
- Wall murals
There are a lot of pieces to the application process, but a neighborhood must be able to match the money put up by the city — whether it be dollar-for-dollar matching or sweat equity hours (neighbors willing to pitch in on projects).
This grant is awarded 3 times a year. The next deadline is June 1.
Learn more here.
Neighborhood Board Retreats
These events are helpful for strategic planning.
Retreats began in 2013 as a way to empower neighbors to be the planners and drivers for change in their community, responsible for their own personal happiness in the process. These retreats are a full-day training, with a speaker, lunch and strategic planning time for board members.
Neighborhood leaders often leave with goals, a plan and next steps.
These are held twice a year for about 30 people per training. Learn more here.
Keep Charlotte Beautiful
Neighborhoods, schools or nonprofit organizations can receive up to $5,000 for all sorts of beautification projects. I even heard someone talk about a walkway in Wilmore where the plants were edible along the common area where residents walked.
This program is a subset of the national organization Keep America Beautiful.
Learn more here.
The city partners with TreesCharlotte to encourage tree planting. All NeighborWoods trees are purchased by TreesCharlotte with donations and distributed to neighborhoods.
TreesCharlotte’s NeighborWoods program depends on corporate and individual donations to fund canopy improvements. Tree It Forward neighborhood participants are requested to contribute a portion of the cost of trees and the event. The requested contribution helps to offset expenses.
TreesCharlotte’s mission is to plant 500,000 trees by 2050. Learn more here.
The City launched an expanded community training platform in 2016. Residents can participate in the Civic Leadership Academy or attend workshops to learn things like how to organize your neighborhood, effective use of social media and how to leverage government and community partners to resolve neighborhood challenges.
Want to join a training? Learn more here.
Cover image via Facebook.