Weavers Way Cooperative will be giving community members the same environmental grant — though reduced — that it’s been offering for decades. The grants are offered to fund projects such as community gardens, educational outdoors projects for kids, benches for parks or fences.
Sandra Folzer, chairperson for the cooperative’s environmental committee, said that the grants had to be reduced from up to $1,000 to only $100 or $200 a piece because the funds the committee holds for such grants is not plentiful these days.
The grants used to be funded by incentive money the city gave out to get residents to recycle. The flow of grant cash has slowed down drastically since the city started its own recycling program, however.
“We didn’t want to stop our grant program,” Folzer said. “So what we did was give smaller grants so we could make the money last a little bit longer.”
But Folzer said the committee has developed a new plan to keep the grants going.
“We’ve had to be creative and come up with new places to get money,” she said. “For instance, we had [a] Trolley Car Diner [fundraiser event].”
While Folzer said the committee gained funds through that specific event, their best fundraiser has been via electronics recycling.
Since the city does not recycle items like old TVs, toasters, headphones and broken computers left at the curb, Folzer said Weavers Way will team up with Green in Chestnut Hill (GRinCH) to hold daylong recycling events. When folks come up with the electronics they’d like recycled, they are asked to donate a couple of bucks.
In addition, Folzer said the committee has also tried asking local businesses for monetary donations. Valley Green Bank, she said, has offered a handful of cash in the past.
Folzer promised the committee will keep finding ways to finds funds to offer grants.
“This is one way we can help the community,” she said. “We feel that’s a very important part of what we’re about.”
Folzer said that because the grants are for a small portion of money, the application process is relatively easy.
Peggy Miller, secretary and treasurer of Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund, said her organization has been pleased with the ease of the process and have applied for the past two years. They haven’t applied this year because they don’t have any projects on the horizon.
“It’s wonderful because sometimes organizations like ours, we don’t have the staff to apply for major grants but Weavers Way’s is easy to fill out and it looks to help neighborhood organizations,” she said. “The funds stay in the neighborhood, which is also nice,” she added.
Miller said the grant they were awarded last year funded benches for Cliff Park, near Creisheim Valley Drive. The year prior, the grant they were awarded by the cooperative’s committee funded picnic benches at Meditation Park, which is located at the corner of Germantown Ave. and Mermaid Lane.
“It’s next to daycare center, so we thought sometimes children could use the park,” she said of the benches. “Or people could sit and have lunch, coffee, something like that.”
Veronica Britto, manager of the Ogontz branch of the Philadelphia Free Library, said they also received a grant last year. It was to fund containers, seeds and materials so children could make container gardens.
“[The project] was showing kids that you can still grow your own food and it doesn’t have to be in the ground, which is a big thing in urban gardening,” she said, adding that the kids grew lettuce, tomatoes and green bell peppers. “They also learned about healthy eating and making a salad.”
The deadline for this year’s round of grants is March 15. Forms can be found on Weavers Way’s website. Folzer said grants awarded will be around $100 and will be announced in mid April.