Opinion

Share ideas to transform community

What’s your $100,000 idea? You may have one and not even know it. Centre Foundation wants to hear your ideas that could encourage local, community involvement through the environment around us. The Centre Inspires season has just started, so now is the time to share your great idea.

Centre Inspires, which is Centre Foundation’s largest collaborative granting process, is in its third year and has already produced two innovative projects in our community. This annual grant focuses on transformational ideas for community engagement, with a rotating sub-emphasis: arts, health and social services, and now environment.

Summer is a great time for inspiration, so put those thinking caps on and bring your ideas to one of the Centre Inspires brainstorming sessions in July. These informal sessions, hosted by Centre Foundation staff, are a great place to get feedback on your idea, stretch your idea further, find a partner, hear other ideas and learn more about this innovative grant process.

To apply, you only need a one-page, 500-word description that answers the prompt: What project(s) would you like to implement to encourage the people of Centre County to be more engaged in their community by focusing on the environment around them? Projects must be both highly engaging and highly visible in the community and may focus on aesthetics, enjoyment, conservation, or general engagement with the land and animals that are part of our region.

Full application packets can be found at our website at centre-foundation.org or by calling 237-6229.

First-round applications for the $100,000 grant are due by 5 p.m. July 21. On that day, Centre Foundation is happily anticipating a flood of inspirational and transformative ideas. Please submit completed applications by email only to the grants and scholarship coordinator, Ashley Pipe, at ashley@centre-foundation.org.

In 2014, the Centre Inspires inaugural project winner was the Book Benches of Centre County, which was inspired by an art installation in London. SPE Federal Credit Union and the Child Development & Family Council of Centre County partnered and envisioned installing benches in the shape of open books across Centre County. Local artists, students and other community groups came together to paint benches with scenes inspired by our communities and our history. Today, these benches can be found in every part of the county — from Snow Shoe to Philipsburg, from Bellefonte to Bald Eagle, and right in front of the State College Municipal Building. You can also visit the Book Benches of Centre County Facebook page.

In 2015, a community partnership overseen by New Leaf Initiative recognized both the bounty of locally grown produce and the nutrition gap that some of our more vulnerable neighbors and their children were enduring. Their solution was the Food Centres — retrofitted shipping containers that provide expanded, refrigerated storage capacity for fresh produce, available exclusively to food pantries. By enhancing the mission and the work of these important organizations, food pantries can now offer their clients fresh, nutritious vegetables and fruits — a welcome supplement to the traditional nonperishable boxed and canned options. The first Food Centre was installed this spring at the Old Gregg School in Spring Mills with additional landscaping and edible gardens accompanying it. These gardens will provide the ingredients for food literacy and cooking classes; children and adults alike can enjoy hands-on experiences like growing and assembling fresh salads, the toppings for pizza, and other easy-to-make recipes. Again, you may visit the Facebook page to see more pictures and learn more about this project.

So, what’s your $100,000 idea to encourage community engagement through the environment around us? We invite you to bring your idea to a brainstorming session to learn tactics for stretching your idea, finding partners and taking it to the next level. We’ll help you fine-tune your idea and assist with ideas to make your application great.

Centre Foundation’s staff and board members are eager to read the community’s inspired ideas by the July 21 deadline. We are here to assist you as your idea moves through this innovative granting process, so please contact our office at 237-6229 or visit centre-foundation.org.

Molly Kunkel is Centre Foundation executive director.

INTERESTED

IN APPLYING?

For a full application packet or more information:

▪  Visit centre-foundation.org

▪  Call 237-6229

▪  Email Ashley Pipe, grants and scholarships coordinator, at ashley@ centre-foundation.org

▪  Attend a brainstorming session (all sessions will be held at Centre Foundation’s office, 1377 Ridge Master Drive in State College, just off Blue Course Drive): 3:30-5:30 p.m. Thursday; 4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday; 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. July 15

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