TNT Awards Grants for Community Projects

By Violet Lazarus

Tomorrow’s Neighborhood Today Southside group granted $3,750 for special projects throughout the community during its monthly meeting held Feb. 1. 

Five projects were proposed, and while all received funding, no project got the full amount requested. 

The largest grant of $1,150 was awarded to The Greater Southside Homeowners Association (Project S.O.U.L.) in partnership with the Syracuse Community Action Network (SyraC.A.N.) of Reclaiming our African Pride (R.A.P.) Inc. to promote South Side voter education and civic engagement. 

“I think it’s more important than anything we got out there because if people aren’t educated, they’re not going to get involved in our political structure at the local scale,” said Charles Pierce-El, a community member connected to the project.  

The group plans to use this money to host outdoor, socially distanced events in the spring where community members can come and talk to local representatives running for office. The groups also want to print informational literature to hand out to community members. 

Additional community projects included COVID support initiatives and support of community gardens. 

COVID-19 Essential Hygiene project was awarded $600 by TNT, and the funding will be used to buy laundry detergent, soap, shampoo, and toothpaste for community members in need. 

“There’s a cascading effect,” said Jaime Howley, advocate for the program, of people experiencing hardship brought on by the pandemic. “They put all their money towards getting food. They aren’t able to pay their rent; they aren’t able to pay their bills. They lose their car. The complications are incredible.” 

Howley, chair of the TNT neighborhood and housing task force, also requested funding for the Homeowners Awareness COVID-19 Hardship Project. The project is a campaign to make homeowners and small-scale landlords aware of federal aid available in keeping their homes. The form can be found here, and once filled out, can be dropped off at the mayor’s office.

The remaining two projects funded were community garden efforts, one financing a sign and deer fence for the Kwanzaa Village Garden off Midland Avenue and the other paying for materials to start a greenhouse garden at the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ on Cortland Avenue. The Rev. Max Jones assured TNT board members the garden is open to the public through the Robert and Marjorie Jones Community Development Organization. 

Other orders of business discussed included the Salina First development, which aims to start construction in the spring. Gail Montplaisir, one of the developers, said a recent grant from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will allow the project to have net zero emissions and provide the community with opportunities to learn solar panel installation and long-term maintenance. 

Eli Smith, managing director of E. Smith Contractors, also said he and his teams are excited to work on the project. Smith said he is looking for laborers and a project manager and those interested should email correy@esmithcontractors.com

“We’re just trying to create opportunities and change the image and the face of what Syracuse is,” he said.

Violet Lazarus is a senior studying journalism at the Newhouse School