If you drive around Oswego you will see large signs popping up in 13 different neighborhoods that competed successfully for the 2014 Oswego Renaissance Association’s (ORA) Block Challenge Grants.
More than $104,000 was awarded to 121 homes that made the final cut after an initial 200 homes started the application process.
One of the requirements was at least five homes in an applicant’s immediate area had to participate.
The Challenge Block Grant is a matching grant for exterior improvements for each participating home, up to the first $1,000.
This is a different approach to neighborhood revitalization; a middle-market approach that builds on neighborhood strengths by building from stronger areas and expanding outwards.
Requiring a critical mass of homes in an immediate area creates “clusters” of revitalization which affects the entire area.
The Oswego Renaissance Association is privately funded by local foundations and businesses including The Shineman Foundation, Pathfinder Bank, Novelis, and with in-kind support from the city of Oswego, Step One Creative, the Oswego Tree Stewards, The Beacon Hotel and Broadwell Hospitality Group.
“People have commented they see more ladders and hear more saws than in previous summers,” explains Paul Stewart, ORA founder and director.
“Financial investment is preceded by social investment. The matching grants are also a means to get neighbors to engage neighbors and begin to restoring their blocks together – as a neighborhood,” Stewart said. “When each neighbor sees other neighbors joining in, it grows confidence and begins to unlock financial investment.”
For information on applying for the association’s 2015 Challenge Block Grants visit its website at; www.oswegonyonline.com.