The Neighborhood Matching Fund was started by a group of community activists who wanted to have input on how city monies were spent in their districts. Citizens of Seattle sit on the program’s advisory and application review boards, which operate in conjunction with the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

The Seattle Neighborhood Matching Fund awards $3 million annually to locally-based organizations requesting money for visible and lasting improvements to their neighborhoods. The grants match money that the neighborhood has raised through volunteer labor, which is valued at $10/hour; professional services; materials; or cash. 25% of the money must come from the neighborhood itself.

The program is divided into five categories of grants: the Semi-Annual Fund gives grants of $5,000 to $10,000 for large projects; the bi-monthly Small and Simple Fund is for groups requesting $5,000 or less; the Neighborhood Outreach Fund, giving grants of $500 or less, is for projects such as leadership development and membership expansion; the Youth Working in Communities, which gives grants of up to $1,000; and the Involving All Neighborhoods Fund, which gives funds of $500 to $2,000 for projects which include the participation of neighbors with developmental disabilities.

Types of projects that have been funded in the past include youth programs, playgrounds, traffic safety, site-planning/design, and public art. The parks that have been included in the program have been very diverse in size and scope. There are parks like Ross Park, which received $4,600 to add benches, picnic tables, and a basketball court, and there are also parks like West Seattle Weather Park, which received $20,865 to create a tiled park dedicated to the history and methods of weather measurement.

Applications are only accepted from neighborhood-based organizations whose purpose is to improve the quality of life in a neighborhood. The group may be one that has formed just for the purposes of doing the project for which it applies.

For more information, visit the City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods website.