Newton Community Pride has donated over $5,000 in microgrants to 15 local projects and organizations to advance arts, culture, and beautification of the city.
Blair Sullivan, the executive director of Newton Community Pride, said many of the projects the grants supported are small and “wouldn’t get the funding otherwise.”
“We are just happy to provide the funding so that these wonderful projects happen,” Sullivan said.
Jane Hanser, who lives in Newton, applied for the grant in order to buy paint and landscaping materials for the Bristol Road beautification project. Hanser said she helped advocate for the closure of Carriage Road between Bristol Road and Chestnut Street to motor vehicles, which Newton’s Traffic Council passed in January 2021.
Hanser said she is currently working on the beautification of the block, so it looks more like a park and less like a closed road. She said she applied for the grant to plant foliage and paint things such as flowers on the cement barricades at the end of the block.
“We really wanted to give it something that made it look like a sign that this is a park, this is not an open road for people to drive over the grass,” Hanser said.
Hanser said the project is not complete because the Public Works Department needs to use the area for staging the reconstruction of Chestnut Street. Hanser said she hopes to continue the beautification project when the construction is finished.
Cappella Clausura, a musical ensemble in the city dedicated to highlighting female composers throughout history, received two grants — one for a collaborative performance in June 2021 with Newton Theatre Company and one to commission five female composers to write music for their concert in November 2021 — said Amelia LeClair, the group’s founder and director.
“This was Capella Clausura’s first live concert in two years,” LeClair said. “It was really great to do it again.”
Another grant recipient, the Newton Theatre Company, creates art promoting diversity and focusing on themes of social justice.
“It’s about theater for a community by a community,” said Abby Lass, the director of education and director of outreach and digital programs for the Newton Theatre Company. “We pride ourselves on taking new perspectives on classic works, experimenting with new works, really trying to center women’s voices in the work that we create.”
The company’s grant went toward the production of “Our Tears are the Same Color: Parallel Narratives of Bereaved Palestinian and Israeli Women,” a production where two Palestinian and two Israeli women weaved stories from their past together to show how pain is a way forward.
“It’s been really gratifying to be able to create a piece of art that is both beautiful in its own right and also very much connected to and in conversation with important issues of our time,” Lass said.
Julie Plaut Mahoney, executive director of Welcome Home, said the organization received a grant of $500 to specifically help in resettling Afghan families. Welcome Home is a homegoods pantry that collects, sorts through, and stocks many different types of housing essentials for the community.
“So far our use of the money has been to supplement homegoods for large families,” Mahoney said. “Last week for instance, we had an Afghan family of nine and to meet their needs, that’s a lot for us as a small organization, so we used some of that money to buy some of the larger items.”
When asked what advice she would give to others looking to apply for the microgrant, Mahoney said she recommends coming up with a “very specific” purpose for the grant.
“I find that most agencies that provide grants, they want to know exactly where the money’s going to go,” she said.
Emily McMains, treasurer of the Indigenous Peoples Day Newton Committee, said the microgrant they received helped bring speakers, artists and dancers to perform, as well as cover event insurance, for a celebration in October 2021.
“We had tribes represented from all over the place,” McMains said. “There was a heavy Taino representation, which is particularly special because the Taino land, which nowadays is Puerto Rico, is where Columbus landed and had the most devastating impact on the native population.”
Newton Community Pride’s executive director, Sullivan, said the microgrants have allowed a variety of other unique organizations to help the community and invest in their passions and projects. The organization has just finished accepting applications for its 2022 spring cycle of donations and recipients will be announced on or before April 29.
“There’s just so many great ideas and events out there, and we just want to support as many as we can,” Sullivan said.
Another round of applications for microgrants will open October 1, 2022. For more information on how to apply go to newtoncommunitypride.org.
Hannah DiPilato and Lauren Rowlands can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.