by Kirby Lindsay, posted 14 April 2014
Okay, so Hop Scotch is really about having a great party with lots of new beers, wines and whiskeys to sample. Attendees can also learn about the spirits, indulge in a bit of food sampling and enjoy the general entertainment. Yet, by attending this fabulous festival – indoors, in the elegant surrounding the Studios always provide – you also contribute to making Fremont a much more fabulous and friendly place!
Chamber Community Grants
The Fremont Chamber Community Grants program began a few years ago when the Chamber Board grew tired of denying funding to positive projects just because they’d already spent that year’s money.
The Chamber Board, being operated in Fremont, only reluctantly came to a formal process in its giving. For years the Board would budget for community projects, only to blow the budget within the first few months of the year – leaving worthwhile projects unfunded to the disgruntlement of all.
So, the Board – with a lot of help from its Executive Director – developed the Community Grants Program. Twice-a-year the Chamber welcomes applicants to fill out and submit the one-page grant form (this is still Fremont, and there is still a casualness to its formal process.) Grant applications go to a committee, in January and June, for review and consideration. The committee then submits its recommendations to the Board. Over the five or six years of the Grants Program, the Board has generally argued every time about how much is being given – generally agreeing with the committees decisions, but deciding to give more.
The Board knows they are granting very small grants – a maximum of $1000 per project – and it can be frustrating. The money comes from the funds raised of Fremont Oktoberfest, which actually funds the operations of the Chamber as well. The fund has increased over the years, but it remains small.
Yet, with its Community Grants process, the Fremont Chamber has been able to fund more projects, and a wider diversity of projects, than they ever had in the past. The ‘formal’ process opened up funding to projects beyond those initiated or administered by the Chamber, its Board or its members. It has also funded projects that spawn others.
A Stunning Success Story
Possibly the greatest success of the Fremont Chamber Community Grants program, so far, came with the January 2012 funding of a Fremont Arts Council (FAC) request. FAC volunteer Sonia Telesco asked for $1,000 to have artist Kevin Pettelle create a donation box for the Fremont Troll. It was up to Telesco, and other FAC volunteers, to consult with Troll artist Steve Badanes, install the box and keep it maintained and cleaned out.
This collaboration has had far-reaching results, already. The donation box has generated a steady stream of income (the Troll is reportedly the second most visited tourist site in Seattle, after the Space Needle,) and has not only paid for regular maintenance of the sculpture but also grant money to partially fund the 2013 celebration of the Troll’s birthday. The money also may, in time, pay for installation of a Troll Cam. It is worth noting: the Fremont Chamber has been trying for a few years to find a funding source for installation of a Troll Cam.
As the Chamber, and the FAC, struggle with the need for long-term maintenance on other Fremont public art installations, this collaboration could set precedence there as well.
Frankly, though, the donation box was an anomaly among typical Community Grant projects. The Fremont Chamber Board spends a lot of time discussing and considering events in Fremont, and the Community Grants program shows this preference. Previously, projects that applied (and were accepted) included:
- The Music In The Sculpture Garden concert series
- Fremont First Friday Art Walk
- Fremont Outdoor Movies
- Moisture Festival
- Trick-or-Treat In Fremont (author’s note: I organize this one.)
- Literacy Source Fundraising Breakfast
- Wallingford Boys & Girls Club Halloween Hoopla
- A Birthday Celebration for J.P. Patches
- Seattle Police Foundation North Precinct Community Picnic
- Fremont Abbey Arts Center ‘Early Show’ Performance
- Village Day at B.F. Day Elementary School
- A fundraising auction for B.F. Day
- Fremont MLK Day Of Service
- Puget Soundkeeper Alliance July 5th Lake Union Clean-up
- Lifelong AIDS Alliance Gay Bingo
- Boys & Girls Club Field Of Dreams Celebrity Softball Game
- Fremont Abbey ‘Abbey Grown’ Dance Performance
That is not to say that the Community Grants can’t go for other items, including improvements or repairs. Regularly the Community Grants give funds to local business owner Gene Slagle, known as the Graffiti Sheriff, and his clean-up efforts. Also, the Chamber has given money to the B.F. Day Playground Improvement Project, and gave money to the Fremont Neighborhood Council’s Signal Box Art project with Urban ArtWorks.
The Community Grants program has also given money towards maintenance/repairs of some of the art of Fremont, including:
- the SPACE art installation
- the Rapunzel neon on the Fremont Bridge
- the Fremont Rocket
- the historic Fire Engine in the Sculpture Garden at History House
The Community Grants have also helped Solid Ground, After School Tutoring at B.F. Day, and are currently funding a literacy project at the school as well.
In July 2012, the Chamber Board agreed to Executive Director Jessica Vets’ request to create a follow-up process for the Grants program. Again, it is nothing too formal – a request for photos, a one-page write-up, or an e-mail description of what happened.
Considering the number of projects that have been funded, and the years that this program has existed, there are very few failures. The Frontal Exposure Art Project didn’t take off as hoped – the organizers wanted to put art in the windows of vacant storefronts – but the money didn’t get spent either. It returned to fund other projects.
Still, as the variety and reach expands – particularly to projects not directly connected to the Chamber (this year the Board funded Roosterwax Center of the Universe Art & Architecture Charette for Students, a non-Chamber project) – it becomes necessary for the Board to know the projects funded actually do some good.
It may make little difference to you, as you sip new spring beers or get another taste of fine Scottish whiskey, but knowing that the community in Fremont is improving thanks to Hop Scotch means a lot to those who will get the funds in the next few years.
The Chamber Board hopes to almost double the Community Grants fund budget with money raised from Hop Scotch. Will you consider attending the event and making that a reality?
For tickets to Hop Scotch, go to the official event website. For more information on the Community Grants program, visit the Fremont Chamber website or contact Vets at email@example.com The next Grants application period is in June 2014, and if enough people attend Hop Scotch, just think what might happen here next!
- FCC Highlight Reel: Elections, Grants, But No Zombies
- by Kirby Lindsay, February 6, 2013
- Bold Hat Makes The Rounds With Upcoming Scotch Festival
- by Kirby Lindsay, May 2, 2008 in The North Seattle Herald-Outlook
- FAC Highlight Reel: An Active Board, And Organization
- by Kirby Lindsay, November 19, 2012
©2014 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.