West Harlem Development Corporation awards $1 million to 27 nonprofits

West Harlem Development Corporation awarded $1 million in grants to 27 organizations that will provide services to the community in the areas of education, arts and culture, health services, housing and economic development.

The grants will benefit thousands of residents living in the boundaries of Community District 9 and will fulfill WHDC’s mission to promote increased economic opportunities and quality of life to sustain a vibrant West Harlem community. The awards are WHDC’s second grant cycle in 2013.

WHDC announced the grants at its Second Grant Award Ceremony Thursday night at Our Children’s Foundation. The grants awarded represented five areas of community need:

  • Education — 11 grants will enhance the learning of children and adults, including a science and math program that teaches robotics to middle- and high-schoolers.
  • Arts and Culture — 7 grants will continue to fuel West Harlem’s heritage in the arts, including a program to inspire youth by exposing them to the works of renowned African-American artist Romare Bearden.
  • Community Facilities — 4 grants will aid in the health and social well-being of the community, including a program that allows one home care worker to look after the needs of several seniors in one housing complex.
  • Workforce and Economic Development — 4 grants will fund business development and job training and placement initiatives, including a program that trains residents to become pharmacy technicians.
  • Housing — 1 grant that will fund free legal representation and protection against landlord harassment to residents of Single Room Occupancy and other low-income housing.

“These 27 grant recipients together bring a holistic approach to improving the quality of life in West Harlem,” said WHDC Executive Director Kofi A. Boateng. “The programs WHDC funded will help all residents from our littlest toddlers to our community’s venerable senior citizens.”

WHDC accented the diversity that defines West Harlem by funding one organization to establish a central hub to disseminate information and provide services to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community while continuing to address youth violence by funding a tour of an anti-gun violence production to six West Harlem high schools.

“Our grant recipients represent organizations tackling prevalent issues while finding new ways to enhance the life of residents,” said WHDC Board Chairman Donald C. Notice.

This installment brings WHDC’s funding of community grants to $3 million to 110 nonprofits in 2013. WHDC gave out $2 million in March to 83 organizations, many of whom have leveraged those funds to garner more.

Four of WHDC’s first-round grant recipients provided musical entertainment at the ceremony: Harlem Chamber Players, Mama Foundation for the Arts’ Gospel for Teens Choir, Harlem Opera Theater and Impact Repertory Theater. Another inaugural recipient, Harlem Seeds, made healthy side dishes for the light dinner served while Project Y.E.A.H. supplied a large-scale mosaic.

After the Grant Award Ceremony, WHDC held a Public Meeting to discuss its successes and challenges during the past year as well as its future prospects. Afterward, Mr. Boateng took questions from the public.

In addition to the $3 million in grant awards, WHDC’s successes to date include:

  • 900 Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) positions funded for a total of $1.2 million
  • 50 Summer Senior Employment Program positions funded in a pilot program
  • An anti-violence rally that brought Grant Houses and Manhattanville together during a turbulent summer.
  • A free and cutting-edge grant-writing workshop for 150 organizations to hone their skills
  • The distribution of Columbia University’s 75 summer camp scholarships to local children for three years
  • Positive conclusion to the Attorney General’s inquiry into the predecessor organization, WHLDC
  • Transition from WHLDC to WHDC
  • First-ever march in the African American Day Parade
  • Meetings among first-round grantees to monitor activities and promote collaborations
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