Bay Area Wilderness Training (Photos: Courtesy New America Media)
The Measure Q Urban Open Space Grant Program was designed to connect people with Nature within their own neighborhoods and focus on areas that do not have ready access to parks, community gardens and urban trails. Fifteen organizations, including Latinos United for a New America (LUNA), receive funds to bolster local environmental projects. – @siliconeer #siliconeer #SCVOSA #MeasureQ #SantaClaraValleyOpenSpaceAuthority #NAM #NewAmericaMedia #ParksRecreation
The Board of Directors for the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority has awarded $1,553,077 in the initial grant cycle for the Measure Q Urban Open Space competitive grant program. Fifteen organizations serving Santa Clara County residents, including nonprofits, schools, cities and the County, received grant funds for community gardens, outdoor leaders training, environmental education, homeless stream stewards, sustainable food systems and more. The $1.5 million in grant awards leverages more than $1.1 million in matching funds from the grantee organizations for total urban open space investment of more than $2.6 million.
“Many South Bay residents, especially those in the urban core, don’t have ready access to Nature,” said Andrea Mackenzie, General Manager for the Open Space Authority. “They must overcome many barriers related to transportation, income, language and culture. We are fortunate to have some incredible schools, nonprofits, cities and county departments in the region that are helping people break down these barriers … The Authority is proud to invest in fifteen such organizations with their creative, impact-rich projects that connect people to Nature, such as bringing kids from Title I schools on field trips to visit a creek, building community gardens and making connections to regional trails.”
The Measure Q Urban Open Space Grant Program was designed to connect people with Nature within their own neighborhoods and focus on areas that do not have ready access to parks, community gardens and urban trails. Criteria used to evaluate grant proposals included the project focus and its alignment with open space conservation goals, level of community engagement and support, project plan, goals, budget, impact, sustainability and the organization’s capacity to complete the project. Proposals won extra points for addressing underserved communities, community- building, demonstrating leadership and innovation – and providing more than 25% in matching funds.
In this inaugural grant cycle, the Authority received twenty-seven eligible applications requesting a total of $3.3 million. The Authority’s staff evaluated the proposals and held a special Citizens Advisory Committee meeting for further review and public comment that was attended by over forty community members.
The Measure Q Urban Open Space Grant Program provides grants in one or more of four categories, including:
- Environmental Stewardship and Restoration
- Parks, Trails, and Public Access
- Environmental Education
- Urban Agriculture/Food Systems
The Authority awarded grants in each of its seven districts, bringing benefits to communities throughout the jurisdiction, which includes Milpitas, San Jose, Santa Clara, Campbell, Morgan Hill and unincorporated parts of the county.
Latinos United for a New America (LUNA) received $250,000 for Nuestro Lugar, a multi-use open space along a quarter mile of Midfield Avenue in East San Jose. The entire length of the proposed open space is bordered by a sound reduction wall that separates Midfield from Highway 101. The project touches multiple grant categories: environmental restoration through the planting of native vegetation, park space for families and community gatherings, and a community garden to promote urban agriculture.
“The most important lasting impact of this project is that it will create a new capability in the Midfield community to act on its own behalf,” said Chava Bustamante, Executive Director of LUNA. “The current community members are isolated from each other, are often victims of crime, and live in cramped conditions in order to afford rent. This project will unite residents in a common cause, bring them together as they share their new (and only) open space, and will establish a relationship between the residents and government entities and elected officials that will lay the groundwork for further action to improve the community.”
A second grantee, Bay Area Wilderness Training (BAWT) received $40,000 for its South Bay Capacity Building Project (Getting Underserved Youth Outside). The project will increase the number of program partners and environmental educators in Santa Clara County, which leads to more opportunities for diverse youth to experience the outdoors. “Many teachers and youth workers want to bring youth outdoors but lack experience organizing such outings and are unfamiliar with the logistics, equipment and safety skills involved,” said Scott Wolland, Executive Director for BAWT. “BAWT addresses this barrier by educating them through our hands-on leadership training courses, giving them the knowledge and confidence needed to take their youth on outdoor trips.”
All 2016 Measure Q Urban Open Space Program grantees and projects are listed below and additional details are available at http://openspaceauthority.org.