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What if residents in the City of Schenectady had a source of support to bring to life their best ideas for making their neighborhoods stronger, healthier, safer and more livable? 

The Schenectady Foundation’s role in the revitalization of Schenectady's neighborhoods is driven by our belief in the power and the value that comes along with listening to the people who live in the City -- hearing their concerns and empowering them to make changes. The Schenectady Foundation has spearheaded a new initiative that gives residents a voice, as well as the resources needed to become involved in the revitalization of their own communities. It’s called “Schenectady’s Thriving Neighborhoods Challenge”. 

In 2018, the Foundation came together with local foundations, philanthropists, the City of Schenectady, and other change-makers to fund the the first round of the Challenge.  Investors included: The Schenectady Foundation, City of Schenectady’s CDBG program, Wright Family Foundation, the Carlilian Foundation, Neil & Jane Golub, MVP Health Care and Trustco Bank.

When we asked:  "What's your idea?" for improving your community, we received 50 citizen-led project proposals! Clearly, the people of Schenectady were up to the Challenge!  Round 1 of the Challenge resulted in 12 projects receiving funding and support -- a total of $250,000 was committed. 

To see the Round 1 projects that were funded, follow this link: 2019 CHALLENGE PROJECTS.

See our:  Our 2020 Challenge Projects  


Why it Matters

Neighborhood Challenges develop neighborhood leadership, organization, resident involvement and collaboration on projects that matter most to the community. The Challenge is intended to stimulate and empower citizens to come forward with their best ideas for what would make their neighborhood a better place to live – and then to actually be able to make them happen! 

Neighborhood Challenges have been effectively used in other cities to spur citizen involvement and problem-solving. They can serve as a catalyst to bring forward new ideas for improvements in the community, and create productive relationships between residents, community organizations, philanthropy and city government. Sustainable partnership models are developed by building synergies among all stakeholders.


Thriving Neighborhoods Challenge Guidelines

The Schenectady Foundation offers grants for citizen-led, grass-roots projects in Schenectady neighborhoods. 

Application Eligibility – We are looking for resident-driven ideas for improving our community. Applicants must live in the City of Schenectady. In general, non-profits are not eligible to submit applications as they are eligible for funding through the Foundation’s other grant opportunities.

Selection Criteria – These are the things we’ll be looking for when we review your proposal, so be sure to address these topics in your application:

Community Need: Why is this project important? What opportunity, issue or problem will be addressed?  Do residents in your neighborhood want this project to happen?

Community Engagement: Will community members be able to work on the project now/in the future? Do you have a team of people to work on the project with you?

Implementation: Do you expect to have enough time/money/volunteers to make the project happen? Does this project seem to be do-able, with the right support?

Impact on neighborhood/community: How will this make a difference in your neighborhood, or in the City?  How will residents and the neighborhood experience change as a result of this project being done?  What will be different or better?

Sustainability: How will the project be maintained or kept-up in the future? Who will help to do it?

Project Types - We are open to many different types of projects, and we look forward to seeing what kinds of topics are important to you. Here, you'll find a few potential focus areas, but don't be afraid to branch out and try something different!

  • Beautification
  • Environment
  • Public Safety
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Walkability
  • Community Building and Citizen Engagement
  • Accessibility
  • Public Art
  • Educational
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Awards: We anticipate making a variety of awards from relatively modest projects to larger transformational projects. The Foundation plans to fund 6 - 10 projects per year, with a top prize as much as $100,000, and several smaller awards also to be awarded. We place an emphasis on finding at least one youth-driven project each funding cycle.

Technical Assistance:  Resident groups will be provided with facilitation and the resources of a consultant to ensure that their winning idea can be brought to implementation and successful completion.


Example Projects

Electric City Barn Railbridge Steinmetz Greenhouse
Rose Garden Vale Urban Park Tribute Park
NYC 100 Gates NYC Music NYC Uptown GC
Baltimore Clean City Guide Baltimore Garden Party Baltimore Community Newspaper