Eight projects were recently announced as fifth-round winners of Macon's Knight Neighborhood Challenge, which seeks to improve the College Hill neighborhood between Mercer University and the city's downtown. Program Director Beverly Blake provides an update.
In 2009, Knight Foundation and the Community Foundation of Central Georgia partnered to create a five-year, $3 million Knight Neighborhood Challenge, a new type of grantmaking that funds the ideas of individuals and organizations to improve College Hill and nurture new and existing community leadership at all levels.
The Knight Neighborhood Challenge has been a catalyst to support “everyday leaders,” to fund great ideas that have probably always been here but lacked investment. More importantly, it has allowed us to create the opportunities to build new friendships through the common goal of improving Macon.
We’re halfway through the initiative, and the community foundation has awarded $1.3 million to 70 projects. Two of the recent grantees exemplify Knight’s aspirations for Macon and Maconites:
Friends of Tattnall Square Park’s Cooling the Square project will plant 100 trees in our “shared living room,” Tattnall Square Park. This is the first planting of trees in this historic urban park in 100 years. What is so gratifying about this effort is that the friends group was formed just a few months ago by people who know that it is those of us who use the park that are the stewards of its continued vibrancy. The "friends" have already painted the gazebo, have a strong and positive relationship with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and will be the catalysts to bring people together to nurture the park for generations to come.
Movies in the Park is another excellent example of neighbors uniting to assure sustainability for a successful event while having fun! The movie event, a monthly evening outside showing of a popular movie (Ghostbusters on Halloween, for example), was one of the initial College Hill Alliance community-building efforts. The Intown Neighborhood Association now is assuming ownership of the effort, which is exactly the kind of action that Knight desires to create an engaged Macon.
Congratulations to all eight of this year's Knight Neighborhood Challenge winners and our thanks to the Community Foundation of Central Georgia for your leadership and excellent stewardship of this innovative program!
By Beverly Blake, program director/Macon at Knight Foundation