Boston College Opens Applications for Neighborhood Improvement Fund

Representatives from the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Boston College, and the Boston College Allston-Brighton Task Force met Tuesday to discuss the process of submitting project proposals for BC’s $2.5 million Neighborhood Improvement Fund.

The program is intended to finance public projects that may include benefits to public parks, open space, neighborhood beautification, transportation improvements, and public art. The fund is part of of BC’s larger Institutional Master Plan, which calls for $800 million in construction and development on BC’s campus by 2020. Projects financed by the Neighborhood Improvement Fund will be spread over this period.

“This is our first grant cycle, and it has a bit of a learning curve,” Gerald Autler, the BRA’s senior project manager, said during the meeting which took place at the Brighton Marine Health Center. “We are open to any proposals that come forward.”

The proposal process consists of submitting an application for review by BC and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. According to Autler, this upcoming grant cycle marks the first in a series of grant cycles.

Autler said that there is a $100,000 funding cap on individual proposals during this first cycle.


“We want to get our feet wet, so we are not open to larger grants, but we’ll have another grant proposal in the fall,” he said. Beyond 2015, Autler said that the fund will have two proposal cycles per year.

This proposal is similar to Harvard University’s $5.3 million public realm flexible fund. The fund is intended to finance proposals that develop later on in Harvard’s construction process in North Allston, according to Kevin Casey, associate vice president for Harvard Public Affairs and Communications. Casey added that a task force will form in the coming months to determine how those funds will be allocated. The flexible fund is part of the University’s larger Institutional Master Plan.

Alana Olsen, executive director of a nonprofit organization called Allston Village Main Streets, said that she is “excited to see BC encouraging discussion about the purpose of public spaces and for pushing nonprofits to think creatively and long term.”

She added that while Harvard’s fund is mostly limited to North Allston, BC’s Neighborhood Improvement Fund is considering funding more neighborhoods.

Joan Perkins, manager of Sweet Sisters, an artisanal food company, said the fund would support small businesses. She added that she plans on submitting a proposal to the Neighborhood Improvement Fund.

Autler emphasized that the Improvement Fund was still in its growing stage. “The more help we get in spreading the word, the better.”

The BRA and BC are set to vote on project proposals in April.

—Staff writer Ignacio Sabate can be reached at . Follow him on Twitter @TheIggySabate.


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