Tag Archives: Grant

LIC community garden vies for votes to win Seeds of Change grant

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Dutch Kills Community Garden

A community garden in Long Island City is looking to win a grant that will allow them to add more programs and reach more people.

The Dutch Kills Community Garden, which was started in 2013, could win a grant from the Seeds of Change Grant Program if it gets enough votes to move on to the final judging phase of the program.

The community garden was started by former LIC resident Jennifer DuJat, who grew up with her family of gardeners in Long Island and later gardened on her apartment’s fire escape in the western Queens neighborhood.

After being put on waiting lists in other community gardens, DuJat reached out to real estate broker Steffan Olausson Partridge, who helped her get the LIC apartment, and asked if he knew of anyone with an empty lot willing to offer it for the garden.

Partridge mentioned he had a house on 28th Street between 38th and 39th avenues, which he rents out as a short-term vacation spot, with a back lot.

The lot then became the home of the Dutch Kills Community Garden, which this past weekend celebrated the opening of its third season and is completely open to the public.

“We are making the point that even though we have chosen to live in the city we can still live green and do things for the community,” DuJat said.

The garden’s season goes from around April until the end of September, or the first frost, and there are 13 beds of vegetables which are owned by different members of the garden.

Members take turns completing chores to keep the garden’s common space clean, and each bed is the responsibility of the member who owns it. There are some rules that members must follow while keeping a bed, such as making sure they don’t block anyone else’s bed, keeping it clean and using organic materials.

The Dutch Kills Community Garden previously won the Citizen’s Committee for New York City Neighborhood Grant in 2013 and 2014.

This year, if they receive a Seeds of Change grant, the founders plan to use the funds to expand programs, such as wine tastings, and reach more people. The money will also go toward making the garden more sustainable regarding water by creating a rain harvesting system with rain barrels.

“By supporting these kinds of things in the neighborhood it get the word out and shows people that they can be environmentally friendly,” DuJat said. “It shows that even if you are in the city you can support a community garden.”

The voting for the Seeds of Change Grant Program ends on April 27 and people can vote once a day.

To vote for the Dutch Kills Community Garden, click here.


QueensWay gets big lift with $443,750 state grant for park design

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of thequeensway.org

The campaign to turn an abandoned railroad line into a new park running through Queens got a huge lift with a $443,750 grant from the state that was announced on Friday.

The project, called QueensWay, will be able to use the funding from the New York City Regional Economic Development Council toward the design of the first phase of the proposed park, officials said on Friday.

“This vital grant brings us one step closer to making the QueensWay a reality,” said Rep. Joe Crowley. “I thank Gov. Cuomo and the New York City Regional Economic Development Council for their steadfast commitment to building a unique park in our borough that will not only provide great health and environmental benefits to the surrounding communities but also the potential to spur significant economic growth in the area.”

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi said the governor’s economic council targets funding to projects that will have an impact on the local economy. “The QueensWay is one of those projects and I’m glad to support the great effort of The Trust for Public Land and Friends of the QueensWay to bring this transformative project to our community,” he said.

Funding, which goes jointly to the Friends of Queensway and The Trust for Public Land, will be used to design the park’s “Northern Gateway” section, beginning in Rego Park, near Forest Hills.

“This site, at the north end of the QueensWay, is an ideal way to begin to connect the residents to a portion of this 47-acre corridor,” read a statement announcing the grant. “The section will retain and feature a large number of mature trees and will include a nature-themed adventure playground, large bioretention basins and other green infrastructure that can absorb large quantities of stormwater, and access paths to adjacent streets.”

QueensWay calls for converting the 3.5-mile-long former rail corridor into a “linear park and cultural greenway.”

While the project enjoys the support of many elected officials, it also faces opposition from other city and state lawmakers who want the MTA to return rail service that they say is desperately needed to link southern Queens with Manhattan.

I am deeply disappointed with the Regional Economic Development Council’s recent decision to grant funding for a park proposal on Rockaway Beach Rail Line right-of-way. Our tax dollars are being wasted on overpriced out-of-borough consultants that shove their one-sided studies and expensive designs down our throats. The Council has once again ignored the needs of real Queens families who struggle with our lack of transit options,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “It’s clear that reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line is the best and most cost-effective way to expand transit in Queens while easing commutes, creating jobs, cleaning the environment and expanding our economic development. I will continue to fight until this becomes a reality and our families in Queens have the transportation options they need and deserve.”





Glendale community garden awarded compost grant

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Glendale community garden is getting $750 of seed money from the Citizens Committee of New York City to expand its composting capabilities.

“Soil is complicated stuff,” said Gian D’Elia, a Glendale resident who runs the garden, located on 88th Street and 74th Avenue, and applied for the grant  in March. “People just buy a bag of soil and that’s it. They don’t really think about what goes into it.”

The community garden was opened in 2009 by Community Board 5 member Dorie Figliola. Since then, D’Elia became increasingly involved in the garden and it now boasts a bee colony, and all kinds of herbs and fruits.

The garden also has a composting system, the process of breaking down organic trash into a soil additive, but with the grant money they will be able to add three new bins that will churn out fresh compost at a higher rate. D’Elia hopes to get more Glendale residents involved in the process at a time when the community is undergoing its own compost conversion under the city’s pilot program.

“The idea is to get the community involved,” D’Elia said. “Because it’s really a shame that we’re throwing all this usable trash into landfills.”

For now, there are three, sometimes four, households that supply the garden with trash for the compost and they’re hoping that by getting more people involved they will also be able to expand the garden. D’Elia wants to get a few chickens and plant more fruits and vegetables at the site.

“I want to get some chickens here. Chicken poop is great for compost,” D’Elia said. “As we continue to grow we’ll be able to process more compost and supply the whole neighborhood [with compost].”



Queens chocolate company gets $250K grant for Sandy recovery

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence Cullen

Normally, the staff of Madelaine Chocolate makes Valentine’s Day sweet for countless couples.

But this year, because of Sandy, their holiday was sweetened thanks to National Grid.

The gas company presented owners at Madelaine with a check for $250,000 on Tuesday, February 12 to help the confectioners continue their recovery. The money will go toward getting at least one leg of the Madelaine factory producing chocolate again, said co-owner Jorge Farber, and the staff back to work for Halloween candy.

“It’s a beginning for a long, long road that is ahead of us,” Farber said. “This grant from National Grid is the first substantial outside grant and resources we have received. It’s a very concrete first step because it helps us rebuild one of our 14 molding lines that produce chocolate.”

This is the first of several grants National Grid will give to companies in its floodzone that suffered severe damage from the storm. National Grid president Ken Daly said the power company has a $30 million fund, with roughly 100 companies applied. The amount of grant money will vary based on the company, he added.

Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said the grant would be a boost to Madelaine and the workers who live nearby.

“It’s going to help re-employ some of the workers who have been out of work since October, and probably will be out of work through the summer,” Friedman said. “And it’s going to help the community of Rockaway because most of their workers come from the local area.”

Madelaine, the largest Queens small business with about 450 employees, was the first on National Grid’s list, Daly said, because of the long working relationship between the two. The executives at National Grid are committed to getting Madelaine back and making candy as soon as possible.

“[For] many, many years, they’ve been supporting us as a company,” Daly said. “Today, it’s really our opportunity to return that support and help them get back up and running.”

Farber said the factory had already lost two seasons — Valentine’s Day and Easter — of candy production because of the damage from the storm. The combined cost of the damage and cost of doing business is still unestimated, he said.

The first of the eight kitchens, however, has been almost restored. That kitchen had a staff of 42 and produced about 46,000 of 100,000 pounds of chocolate per day.

The grant from National Grid was the first step in getting the staff back to work, as the company awaits potential loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. As more loans and donations come in, the staff can begin making chocolate goodies for distribution.

“We cannot lose another season,” Farber said. “We need to be back by Halloween.”




Wills investigated for missing $33,000 grant

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Councilmember Ruben Wills

A Queens councilmember is taking heat for failing to account for thousands of taxpayers’ dollars given to his non-profit organization.

Councilmember Ruben Wills is under investigation from State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman after he failed to account for a $33,000 grant for his nonprofit, New York 4 Life. He is also being reviewed by the city council.

“In light of troubling reports and court records evidencing Councilmember Wills’ lack of cooperation with a state investigation, including his assertion of his Fifth Amendment rights, we have referred this matter to the Council’s Standards and Ethics Committee for a formal review,” said Council representative Jamie McShane.

McShane added that Wills was removed from the Council’s Budget Negotiating Team and that all decisions about funding allocations for his district will be determined by Speaker Christine Quinn’s office.

Although New York 4 Life does not have a web page, the councilmember’s web site explains that the nonprofit is an organization “which has helped single mothers champion critical issues such as civic literacy and financial empowerment.”

The grant in question was reportedly approved from State Senator Shirley Huntley to New York 4 Life in 2008 for a single mothers’ breakfast, single fathers’ luncheon, a “children and youth obesity campaign,” and an “adopt a commercial strip” program, according to court filings.

However, after the money was paid by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) in September of 2010, neither Wills nor the organization responded with documents showing how the money was spent.

It is also unclear as to whether the events actually occurred.

The court papers also said the OCFS sent a letter to request the accounting of the grant or a refund in April, 2011, but the nonprofit didn’t respond, at which time OCFS contacted the Attorney General’s office.

Schneiderman’s office issued a subpoena in February of this year, but received no report of the money.

While meeting with lawyers from the AG’s office, Wills walked out during questioning, pleading the Fifth Amendment.

Published reports claim that Schneiderman has filed a motion to force New York 4 Life to open its books. Reports also claim that no tax returns were ever filed for New York 4 Life, which was initially registered to Wills’ residence, but was later changed to his 2009 campaign office.

Calls to Wills’ office for comment were not returned as of press time.

Wills was elected to office in November of 2010 by winning a Special Election, after the passing of Councilmember Thomas White Jr.


Help make history: Vote for Queens sites to get grant money

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photos

Five lucky historic Queens venues are in the running to win part of a $3 million grant to support their services and assist in their revitalization.

Through a partnership with American Express, the National Trust for Historic Preservation brought the Partners in Preservation initiative to New York City, which is a plan aimed at providing financial support to protect landmarks and significant sites across the nation.

The Queens sites that made the cut are the Louis Armstrong House Museum, the Queens County Farm Museum, Flushing Town Hall’s building, Astoria Park’s Pool and the Rocket Thrower sculpture in Flushing Meadows- Corona Park.

“We think it’s a terrific opportunity for us and we’re having fun with it,” said Betsy Enright, director of external affairs for the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, which manages events in Flushing Town Hall. “It’s all really for the people of our community, because we’re trying to make our building beautiful.”

Partners in Preservation has traveled around cities throughout the nation each year since 2006 and has donated $6.5 million to preserve American treasures.
With its first stop in the concrete jungle, the program selected 40 buildings or structures around the five boroughs.
Each of the sites submitted a proposal, including an estimated amount of money they require for their projects, and now depend on votes from residents to determine which sites will be funded.

Residents can vote online once per day until May 21, at partnersinpreservation.com. The four winners that receive the most votes will be awarded their grant requests and a special committee will decide how to divide the remaining money among the other sites, based on need and votes.
Flushing Town Hall asked for $260,000 to restore the large Romanesque windows surrounding the building, while the Louis Armstrong House Museum requested $250,000 to preserve the garden.

For some sites like the Queens County Farm Museum, which requires $255,000 to restore the farmhouse, the contest could give the organization more than just money.
“It would mean a great deal,” said Sarah Meyer, director of sales and marketing at the farm.

According to Meyer the farm was established in 1975 and isn’t as well-known or historic as other sites in the contest and doesn’t have as many financial supporters.
“It’s a grant that’s getting a lot of publicity,” Meyer said, adding, “hopefully, a lot more people will become more aware of the Queens County Farm Museum and visit here and support us.”


Click here to cast your vote

P.S. 70 vies to get ‘SMART’

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

The students of P.S. 70 are competing to make their school a SMART-er place.

The school, located at 30-45 42nd Street in Astoria, is currently contending for a $10,000 education grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project, which will be used to purchase approximately five SMART Boards – interactive whiteboards used in classrooms.

“We live in a world driven by technology, and our public school kids need access to technology in the classroom to help them achieve their academic potential,” said Jennifer Franz, who teaches English as a second language at P.S. 70. “SMART Boards bring classrooms alive through interactive lessons and amazing videos and graphics.”

According to Franz, the boards will impact children from 20 different language backgrounds and will be particularly useful for students in her class who are not native English speakers.

“SMART Boards have been a real asset to the school,” she said. “We have some already, so that’s why we are trying to get more. For kids whose second language is English, which we have a high population of at P.S. 70, SMART Boards are really useful because they have visual aids. Since they don’t speak English very well, they can watch the videos. It is not meaningful for a student that doesn’t speak English well to have a text book in front of them.”

If the school wins, a portion of the money will also go towards purchasing wall support mounts and SMART Board training sessions.

In total, 60 grants of varying monetary amounts, totaling roughly $1.2 million, are awarded every month across four categories – education, arts and music, communities and Pepsi challenge. They are made possible through a partnership between Pepsi, GlobalGiving, an online marketplace that allows people to contribute to and connect with causes they are passionate about, and GOOD, an integrated media platform designed for people who want to live well and perform good deeds.

P.S. 70 applied for the grant by submitting their “smart” idea on October 1.

After a random selection process, during which a limitless pool of ideas was narrowed down to 1,500, the remaining candidates were provided their own website, where the public can vote for their proposal.

To persuade people to vote for their school, the students made a silent film promoting their idea.

In order to win the grant, P.S. 70 has to place in the top 15 in votes by the November 30 deadline. On November 3, they began the competition ranked 81st. As of press time on November 16, P.S. 70 was ranked 34th.

“The kids are pretty excited about the contest, especially since they can go online and check our rank,” Franz said. “They are always telling me and other teachers all the people they are getting to vote. I’m pretty optimistic that we will win, because we are a big school. The parents and teachers are very supportive and the kids are excited. If we can get the community involved, then we have a pretty good shot at winning. People want to support public schools, so this is a good opportunity for them to do so.”

To vote for P.S. 70’s idea, visit http://www.refresheverything.com/smartboards-smartkids or text 109416 to 73774.

Corona Engine Company gets grant

| jlane@queenscourier.com


An FDNY engine company in Corona received a $17,000 grant from HUB International Northeast and the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company on Tuesday, September 20.

Engine Company 324/Division 14 will use the money to purchase needed technology and exercise equipment to enhance the training of its members.

“We love the FDNY. They do such good work for the community and around New York,” said Rachel Clark, Fireman’s Fund grant manager. “We’re just so proud to be able to donate funds to help them serve their community even better.”

Grant funds will be used to purchase a digital camera and a laptop to allow firefighters to make customized in-house presentations that deal specifically with building and environmental hazards in their response area.

The Engine Company also plans to buy an elliptical machine and a treadmill.

“It’s a good way for us to give back to the community. I know [Engine Company 324] has a lot of the redeeming characteristics that we look for when we identify an appropriate fire department,” said Cara Siegel, spokesperson for HUB International.

The Fireman’s Fund Heritage Grant program first researches underserved areas that could use the funding, Siegel said. HUB International then chose to give the grant to the FDNY.

Since 2006, the Fireman’s Fund has awarded over $540,000 to the FDNY. This marks the fifth grant HUB International Northeast has awarded them as well.