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HHPNC Looks to Set Stricter Funding Guidelines

New guidelines would require grantees to better advertise their community projects.

The is considering a new policy that would impose stricter guidelines on organizations that receive neighborhood purposes grants.

The council unanimoulsy approved a motion by member Richard Marquez, which directs the rules committee to draft language that would require grantees to "[demonstrate] how the community will learn about the project, and a [provide] a description of how the public will benefit."

"Organizations need to give everyone an opportunity to benefit from projects," Marquez said. "If they don't do that, there not going to get any money."

The motion comes directly on the heels of the board's approval to grant $1,500 to to help nine students attend a legislative seminar at the Statehouse in Sacramento.

Marquez said he felt that the trip--which students could qualify for by writing a 1,000 word essay--was inadequately  advertised to the community.

"If my kid hears that he could go to the conference by hearing an announcement over the intercom at school, he's not going to want to do it," Marquez. "You have to have people who are gong to push kids to do things like this. That's why these opportunities really need to be better advertised to the parents and the community as a whole."

Last spring, the board also approved granting who purchased 30 football helmets for student athletes.

Chris Smith, HHPNC Chairman, told the council that the representatives from the board promised that the helmets would be given to Highalnd Park youngsters, but have to come back before the board to prove it.

The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) established the neighborhood purposes grant in March of 2009 in order to give neighborhood councils flexibility within their budget to fund the efforts of local schools and non-profit organizations.

According to DONE, "A Neighborhood Purposes Grant must provide a demonstrable benefit to the community. [It] should build community through the implementation process and enhance the neighborhood once completed."

HHPNC member Joan Potter pointed out that the board's current grant funding guidelines already required grantees to do community outreach specific to the funded projects. Those guidelines also call for a board member to oversee those outreach efforts.

"There's supposed to be a board member assigned to help husband grantees through the outreach process," Potter said.

"I don't know if there's been a lot of husbanding going on," replied Smith.

Marquez said that, as it stood, the HHPNC's funding guidelines were more like suggestions.

"[The guidelines] ask for outreach. There's nothing that says 'hey, you gotta do this, or else,'" Marquez said. "I want to add some teeth, an 'or else.' I'm not out to get the money back, I'm out for them to do the proper outreach."

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