Local Non-Profits Get $30,000 In Community Grants

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It's the site of Lansing's literal fork in the road: the restaurant where Saginaw and Oakland meet, but a lot of drivers don't even notice it.

"They're so focused commutting on their way back and forth to work," Fork in the Road restaurant owner Jesse Hahn said.

The only indication you're entering Lansing? A small stone sign tucked in the Fork in the Road's parking lot, but that could change soon thanks to a $5,000 grant awarded to Lansing's Westside Commercial Association.

"I think everybody wants it to be more than just a big sign, because we have the power right now to do something really different, and really beautiful and change the way Lansing perceives this area," Westside Commercial Assocation Board Chair Lisa Benck said.

They're just one of seven local non-profits to get a grant from Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council, or Mid-MEAC, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. All of the grants will go toward programs to help marginalized and under-served populations.

"We are an incredibly diverse community, and we want to make sure all those voices are represented at the table because a lot of our planning is kind of old school, and we want to look to the future, not necessarily to the past," Mid-MEAC Executive Director Julie Powers said. "So, this is simply about getting more people at the table."

Fenner Nature Center also received a $5,000 grant. They want to make sure the generations to come start thinking about the Lansing they'd like to live in.

"They'll be working with environmental and land use planners on identifying local environmental issues, learning everything they can about it, maybe coming up with some suggestions on how to mitigate those problems," Fenner Conservancy Executive Director Jason Meyer said.

Fenner will periodically become a classroom for elementary students and their teachers.

"This fundings helps us train them to be better environmental educators as well," Meyer said.

It also helps 'the fork' be an easier decision.

"Get people to kind of notice that the westside is here, and hopefully it will help everybody's business moving forward," Hahn said.

Anyone from the community is invited to help plan how the grants should be used.

Applications for the second round of grants are open until January 25th. There are three information sessions planned next week.

The information can be found here: https://sites.google.com/site/mmpgscommunityreinvestmentfund/

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