Project Neighborly 2018

 “People can imagine and bring remarkable things to life if you invite them to be creative,” said Community Foundation CEO Mauri Ingram. “Project Neighborly grants add a little fuel to those great ideas”.

We asked Whatcom County for ideas that promote neighborliness and over 46 proposals were submitted for this year’s Project Neighborly award round.

Proposals for projects like an interactive art installation that travels around on a bike trailer sparking creative conversation; a kayaking expedition that pairs rural and urban high school students to get to know each other while exploring and learning about our corner of the Salish Sea; activities that bring together families from other nations who are new to the area; an inter-generational community dinner at the Lynden Senior Center; skill sharing in the South Fork Valley; and, a language exchange in the Birchwood neighborhood of Bellingham. 

Project Neighborly grants are a catalyst for cultivating neighborliness and all funded projects will take place by the end of 2018.   

Check out the list of funded projects here: Project Neighborly 2018

How is Project Neighborly funded?

Project Neighborly is funded by people just like you who give to the Whatcom Community Foundation! 

Consider contributing to the Project Neighborly grant pool by making a gift HERE or mailing your contribution to: Whatcom Community Foundation, 1500 Cornwall Avenue, Suite 202, Bellingham, WA 98225.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Project Neighborly

Do you have an idea for strengthening community connection? 

Project Neighborly grants are for people who have great ideas about how we can all become better neighbors, and bring people together across Whatcom County. 

The most important criteria? Connect people who may not otherwise meet. 

Who can apply?

Applicants supporting projects or programs within Whatcom County. Eligible recipients are organizations with a valid letter from the IRS recognizing the applicant as a 501(c)(3) organization; Native American tribes; public or religious institutions; and projects with an approved Fiscal Sponsor.* This grant program is for people who have great ideas about how we can all become better neighbors.

We hope that Neighborly grants will attract ideas from all corners – granges, neighborhood associations, faith organizations and student groups as well as nonprofit organizations, Native American tribes and local government. Never applied for a Community Foundation grant before?  Wonderful! We look forward to getting to know you.

*A fiscal sponsorship is a formal arrangement in which a 501(c)(3) public charity sponsors a project that may lack exempt status. This alternative to starting your own nonprofit allows you to seek grants and solicit tax-deductible donations under your sponsor’s exempt status.

What is the intended purpose of the grants?

Neighborly grants are intended to spark ideas and make the necessary resources available to bring them to life. We believe that your enthusiasm for more neighborly communities, from the water to the mountains and between our international and county borders, combined with your energy and ingenuity will result in more area residents being neighborly – kind, considerate and helpful – to everyone they meet. If we’re successful, ultimately that will mean more and better relationships communitywide, better ideas and decisions, and, a happier, healthier place for everyone. Proposals may include activities such as group projects, art, performance, recreational activities, events, rental of recreational and art facilities, supplies, gatherings, learning initiatives, etc. Grant funding is available for the expenses involved in the creation and execution of the proposed project.

Maximum grants of up to $5,000 will fuel inspiring, actionable, relevant projects that develop a sense of community. 

A few examples as inspiration, the key is asking yourself, “Will this idea help start conversations with unusual suspects (i.e., people I otherwise might not have approached)?”

Film Screening – Who doesn’t enjoy watching a great movie on a big screen with your neighbors? Choose to screen a documentary and serve refreshments after the movie to encourage dialog among your guest. Perhaps give attendees 5 questions to consider during the movie and arrange people in small groups to discuss their thoughts in greater detail. 

Gather a Gardening Crew – Is there a green space in your neighborhood that could use a little TLC? Digging out the weeds and planting flowers will transform it into something for all to enjoy. Reward volunteers with a post gardening BBQ, a perfect way to mingle and get to know one another better. 

Hold a Neighborhood Cook-off – Everyone loves food and everyone loves a little friendly competition, so why not combine the two? Gather with your neighbors to see who has the best meatball or chocolate chip cookie recipe. Make it a yearly event and give winners a traveling trophy to proudly display in their home for the year until passing it along to the next year’s winner. 

Story Exchange – Grab a smart phone or a video camera and learn more about someone you don’t know well (or maybe at all yet). It could be someone who lives near you, someone you know from work or school or somewhere else. Interview them and record the conversation. We’ll post the video on the Project Neighborly webpage.

Skill Share – Organize an event where people can share and/or learn the skills that already live in your community – woodworking, food preservation, beekeeping – anything you and your neighbors know how to do.

Put it in Writing – This is a great one for those of us who are more introverted. Come up with a public art project where people can contribute their ideas about what makes your place special or something they want to see improved. It could be a mural or a big makeshift chalkboard in your school, class, community center, grocery store, grange or church where people can answer a question like:

Before I die…

I stand for…

Community means…

What’s your dream…

Make a wall of happiness – ask people what makes them happy

These are just a few examples to get your wheels turning. Be creative! The sky’s the limit (within budget, of course).

What will be considered for funding?

A wide variety of projects could fit these parameters but preference will be given to ideas that:

  • Are specific and relevant for Whatcom County: Does the project clearly identify a specific and relevant need, locale, and audience? Does it address who is involved, where the activities will happen, and why is it important?
  • Bring diverse people together (how can you bring people together who don’t normally interact?)
  • Inspire a sense of community by uniting people around a common goal
  • Build on community strengths or offer exciting ideas to address community challenges
  • Present a realistic and achievable plan to accomplish the project within a six-month time-frame
  • Are supported and led by people who are trusted or are becoming recognized within their community as connectors and leaders
  • Are feasible to accomplish with the grant OR are supported with matching resources (including donated goods, services, money, or volunteer time) to ensure that the project is attainable
  • Are unique efforts to support something that doesn’t already exist

What won’t be considered for funding?

We will NOT consider funding projects that:

  • Include purchases or payments for personal use (i.e. no rent money, car payments, laptops, etc.)—occasionally equipment purchases or contract labor may be considered (see below)
  • Support the general operating, program, capital, or capacity-building needs of established non-profits
  • Do not explain clearly how the funding will be used, how the project will be implemented, and how it will benefit the community and bring it together
  • Seek sponsorship for a recurring event or fundraiser
  • Seek support for a capital building endeavor
  • Seek funding for individual scholarships

Can funding be used for equipment purchases and contract labor?

A grant might be used to fund an equipment purchase if:

  • The applicant has investigated the availability of the item in the community and has determined that it is not available from a resident or institution in the neighborhood for use in the project.
  • The applicant has explored the option of renting the equipment and this is not possible.

If both borrowing and renting are not feasible, the applicant must demonstrate that an equipment purchase would advance the mission of the project and align with the grant intent. The applicant must identify how they can make this equipment available to others for future charitable projects in the community.

Grants may fund contracted labor if the success of the project requires professional expertise that is not available in the community.

Grant Application Deadline? Grant window for 2018 is now closed

What is the selection process timeline?

Following the application deadline, completed applications will be reviewed by Whatcom Community Foundation staff Grants Committee, which is comprised of community volunteers and donors appointed by the Community Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Committee members will review and rank applications based on the funding preferences listed above.

Approximately one month after the application deadline, the Grants Committee will recommend the top-ranked applications to the Community Foundation’s Board of Directors for final approval. 

When will grant awards be announced?

All applicants will be notified by email about funding decisions in early November. Successful applicants will be awarded funding in early December.

When will grant awards be distributed?

Awards will be made in early December at an awards ceremony.  

What information will I need to apply?

  • Description of your project and how it will benefit the community, hopeful participants, how you will invite people, location, and if you will include any other groups, partners, or collaborators
  • Project time line and budget, and if this grant does not cover all of the project’s expenses, how will you complete the project?
  • Description of organizers and their qualifications
  • Anticipated outcomes – how will your project cultivate a sense of neighborliness, and/or build/improve relationships among people within a defined community who would otherwise be unlikely to come together.
  • 501c3 IRS Determination Letter or Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement
  • It may become necessary to amend grant guideline policies to ensure we are best accomplishing the goals of the program.  The Whatcom Community Foundation reserves the right to amend grant requirements at our discretion. 

How do I apply for Project Neighborly Grants?

Apply for a Project Neighborly grant HERE.

If I received a Project Neighborly grant last year, can I re-apply?

Yes! If you have ideas about how to grow your neighboring activities, we would like to hear them. However, your final grant report must be completed before we will review your new  application.

What are the expectations of grant recipients?

All grant recipients will be expected to agree to and be responsible for:

Each applicant will be asked to submit a report within ten months of receiving funds questions similar to the following:

  • Who was involved and impacted?
  • What was achieved?
  • What lessons were learned?
  • What, if anything, did not work and why?
  • How was the money spent?

Apply for a Project Neighborly grant HERE