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Charter One launches $100,000 neighborhood development competition

Nonprofits throughout Cuyahoga County may apply to make a difference in the next Charter One "Growing Community"

CLEVELAND - The Charter One Foundation today announced a new competition to create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods and promote economic development. The Charter One Growing Communities competition will award $100,000 in grants to winning nonprofits that serve neighborhoods in Cuyahoga County.

Charter One launched Growing Communities in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood in 2010, and has since awarded more than $500,000 in grants through the initiative. The program focused on revitalizing the Ohio City Market District from 2010 to 2012, and expanded to Akron's University Park neighborhood in 2012. Funded projects included urban farming at the six-acre Ohio City Farm, public art projects to beautify the neighborhood and small business grant competitions that decreased storefront vacancy, attracted new businesses and created jobs. Five small businesses and 38 jobs were created through the small business competition in Ohio City.

Due to the success in Ohio City, the Charter One Foundation this year is expanding its Growing Communities initiative to neighborhoods in need of revitalization throughout Cuyahoga County.

"Cleveland has had great success strengthening the Ohio City neighborhood and creating jobs through the Growing Communities initiative" said Ken Marblestone, President of Charter One and RBS Citizens in Ohio. "As part of Charter One's efforts to improve communities where we live and work, we are excited to expand the initiative, help strengthen even more neighborhoods and help create additional jobs in Cuyahoga County."

The goal of the program is to revitalize a distinct neighborhood corridor through programs that enhance the community and create new small businesses and jobs. Nonprofit organizations serving neighborhoods and community development corporations with a desire to make a difference in their community through the Charter One Growing Communities initiative may apply.

Grants will be awarded to winning projects that demonstrate innovative solutions to community development, incorporate collaborative partnerships to improve life for residents and promote economic development through job creation. Priority consideration will be given to projects that impact low or moderate income individuals and neighborhoods, demonstrate a plan for long-term sustainability and foster collaboration.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald welcomed the announcement.

"Charter One’s contribution to Cuyahoga County neighborhoods is a healthy complement to our economic development initiatives,” Mr. FitzGerald said. “The Growing Communities program will not only benefit businesses and residents in a particular neighborhood, it will also support innovation and collaboration throughout the county."

The total grant pool is $100,000. Grants ranging from $2,000 to $35,000 will be awarded to community development corporations and other nonprofits that serve neighborhoods.

Projects eligible to receive grant funding include:

  • Collaborative efforts between nonprofits, residents and neighborhood stakeholders
  • Funding and services for entrepreneurs
  • Grants and competitions for small businesses
  • Education programs for small businesses
  • Development of retail services or attractions to enhance neighborhoods
  • Neighborhood beautification such as public art programs that employ local artists

Charter One invites those interested to apply for the competition by July 13, 2012. A selection committee comprised of leaders within the community will review the applications and select the winners. Winners of the Charter One Growing Communities grants will be announced in September 2012.

About Charter One
Charter One is a division of RBS Citizens, N.A., operating in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. It has 341 branches and 534 ATMs. It has 134 branches and 165 ATMs in Ohio.

RBS Citizens, N.A., is a subsidiary of RBS Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $130 billion commercial bank holding company. It is headquartered in Providence, R.I., and through its subsidiaries has more than 1,460 branches, approximately 3,800 ATMs and approximately 19,200 colleagues. Its two bank subsidiaries are RBS Citizens, N.A., and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. They operate a 12-state branch network under the Citizens Bank brand in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont; and the Charter One brand in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. RBSCFG has non-branch retail and commercial offices in more than 30 states. RBSCFG is owned by RBS (the Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc). RBSCFG’s website is citizensbank.com.

APPLICATION

Charter One is committed to supporting the communities that it serves. This commitment is demonstrated in part by the bank’s history of supporting projects in neighborhoods that promote community economic development. To continue its focus on building strong neighborhoods, Charter One is expanding its Growing Communities initiative.

The Charter One Growing Communities initiative will support neighborhood revitalization efforts in Cuyahoga County. The Charter One Foundation will award grants for projects that demonstrate innovative solutions to community development, incorporate collaborative partnerships to improve life for neighborhood residents and demonstrate measurable outcomes.

In 2010, Charter One Growing Communities was launched in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. The program focused on revitalizing the Ohio City Market District neighborhood corridor, anchored by the West Side Market. Funded projects included urban farming at the six-acre Ohio City Farm, public art projects to beautify the neighborhood, and a small business grant competition.

The small business grant competition invited entrepreneurs to submit ideas for new businesses. Out of 39 applicants, 5 small business received start-up grants ranging from $3,000 to $15,000 to launch their business, pay for rent, and build out their space. Winning businesses included a flower shop, restaurant, popcorn and candy factory, bike shop, and letterpress and craft store. Together, the businesses created 38 jobs, decreased storefront vacancies in the neighborhood by more than 50%, and attracted additional businesses to the now thriving neighborhood corridor.

Interested community development corporations and other nonprofits that serve neighborhoods can apply to be the next Charter One Growing Communities neighborhood. The goal of the program is to revitalize a distinct neighborhood corridor through programs that enhance the community and create new small businesses and jobs.

The total grant pool is $100,000, and grants will be awarded ranging in size from $2,000-$35,000 to qualified nonprofit applicants.

Eligible community development projects include:

  • Collaboration between nonprofits, residents, and neighborhood stakeholders
  • Support for entrepreneurs including funding and services
  • Small business grants and competitions
  • Small business education programs
  • Development of retail services or attractions to enhance the neighborhood
  • Neighborhood beautification such as public art programs that employ local artists
  • Vacant lot reuse
  • Urban farming

Eligibility

Projects eligible for the Growing Communities initiative must meet the following criteria:

  • Project must be focused on improving the quality of a specific neighborhood within Cuyahoga County.
  • The key ingredients for the Charter One Growing Communities contest are a strong nonprofit partner, committed leaders and residents, a neighborhood in need of revitalization, a pool of entrepreneurs and/or artists with good ideas, and a small amount of funding to turn those ideas into reality.
  • Prohibited components include research projects, fundraising and marketing campaigns.
  • Applicants must meet all the eligibility requirements of the Charter One Foundation. A complete list of requirements can be found on the Charter One website:
    http://www.charterone.com/community/corporate/grants.aspx

Priority Considerations

The Growing Communities initiative will give priority consideration to projects that:

  • Serve low or moderate income individuals
  • Impact low or moderate income census tract areas
  • Demonstrate an innovative approach to community development
  • Foster collaboration with clearly defined roles for each partner
  • Demonstrate clear and measurable outcomes
  • Demonstrate a plan for long-term sustainability

Application Process

  1. Applicants must complete the Charter One Foundation on-line application located on its website: http://www.charterone.com/community/corporate/grants.aspx

    If multiple partners are participating in the project, please select one partner agency to submit the application on behalf of the project.
  2. The deadline for applications is July 13, 2012.
  3. Grant recipients will be notified in September 2012.
  4. Applicants must submit a supplemental Growing Communities application narrative (see below) via email to the following address: Rebecca.B.Green@charteronebank.com

The narrative about the project should address the following questions:

  1. Describe the neighborhood in which the project is taking place (challenges, opportunities, demographics, geographic information).
  2. How will this project address the problems or improve conditions identified in question #1?
  3. Identify the organizations that you are collaborating with on this project and identify each of their roles.
  4. Provide specific measurable outcomes expected by this program within the next 12 months (please include quantitative information).
  5. Describe how you will involve Charter One and its colleagues in volunteerism and other activities to revitalize the neighborhood.
  6. Include a detailed project budget including income and expenses.
  7. Please be sure to clearly identify the following information on the application narrative:

  8. Agency name
  9. Contact’s phone number
  10. Project name
  11. Contact’s email address
  12. Contact name
  13.  

Applications are due by July 13, 2012.

For more information, please call 216-277-0888.