A small, rural Pennsylvania community has taken a proactive approach to an area many small towns struggle with: grant funding.
The City of Meadville collects property taxes but needs additional resources for some projects.
Jaime Kinder, mayor of Meadville, sought assistance from Allegheny College, which developed a grant-writing course. The students hone their skills by working with organizations and government agencies. Kinder, along with a student and the Family and Community Christian Association, penned a grant proposal aimed at screening for lead poisoning.
“The first grant we wrote in this partnership, we got it. We got $25,000,” Kinder explained. “That also allows for $4,000 to $5,000 to go to administration from the city. If the city is needed, we can also pay somebody here, right? It’s a beautiful thing when the first one you go after is a win.”
Kinder added before the grant-writing partnership, the city lacked the capacity to pursue a grant that could have provided up to $500,000 in assistance to homeowners.
Kinder co-authored a 2023 Rural Policy Action Report. It provided recommendations for the federal government to help eliminate barriers hindering small communities like hers from getting essential funding. She pointed out that even when grants are accessible, having the funds to administer them is crucial.
“It’s great to have the money, but if we can’t find the person to do it or can’t pay a person to do it, we can’t go after it,” Kinder emphasized. “The federal government should be able to put in those stipulations, right? A year, 20 hours a week for six months, for somebody to write the grant, 20 hours a week to administer. We can use that same person to do multiple grants.”
Kinder noted her office conducted 700 interviews with people living in Meadville and discovered residents want transparent government and leadership. She said it’s crucial to engage with those who are often unheard and amplify their voices in order to have stronger and more resilient communities benefiting everyone.