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The Schenectady Foundation is bringing back its neighborhood transformation initiative that gives residents a voice, as well as the resources needed, to become involved in the revitalization of their own communities. We are excited to announce Round 3 of Schenectady’s Thriving Neighborhoods Challenge. The Challenge is driven by our belief in the power and the value that comes along with listening to the people who live in the City of Schenectady -- hearing their concerns and empowering them to make changes.

In 2018, the Foundation came together with local foundations, philanthropists, the City of Schenectady, and other change-makers to fund the first round of the Challenge. One round led to a second, and in total, the Foundation has funded 17 citizen-led projects meant to improve residents’ quality of life. Projects ranged from splash pads to anti-littering campaigns; from park clean-ups and little libraries, to public art installations, a geocache challenge, and more. Groups of empowered residents can and do make a difference in their communities, and you can, too!

Investors in the Challenge included: The Schenectady Foundation, City of Schenectady’s CDBG program, Wright Family Foundation, the Carlilian Foundation, Neil & Jane Golub, MVP Health Care, The Little Family Foundation and Trustco Bank.

See previously-funded projects here: Round 1 and Round 2.


Why it Matters

Two rounds of the Challenge and a global COVID-19 pandemic later, we believe now more than ever that the people who live in Schenectady are the ones who know best what the City needs in order to be healthier, greener, safer, or happier.

The struggles of the past few years have shown us the importance of connecting with others. Building meaningful relationships with our neighbors is vital to a thriving community. When residents feel motivated and empowered to come together for good, real change happens.

Round 3 of Schenectady’s Thriving Neighborhoods Challenge is meant to foster this kind of community-building by spurring citizen involvement and problem-solving. The goal of the Challenge is to stimulate creativity and empower residents to come forward with their best ideas to make their neighborhoods better places to live – and then to be able bring these ideas to life!


Apply for a Grant

Please use this FORM to submit your project idea for Schenectady’s Thriving Neighborhoods Challenge. Completed applications may be submitted by:

1. Scan & email: KMilligan@schenectadyfoundation.org, -or-
2. Mail: The Schenectady Foundation, 376 Broadway – 2nd Floor, Schenectady, NY 12305

All applications received by 11:59pm on October 4th, 2022 will be considered.

Round 3 Grant Application Form


Thriving Neighborhoods Challenge Guidelines

Through the Thriving Neighborhoods Challenge, The Schenectady Foundation offers grants for citizen-led, grass-roots projects in Schenectady neighborhoods. For information on the Challenge and how to submit an idea, see below or visit us at an upcoming meeting in your neighborhood!

Applicant Eligibility – We are looking for resident-driven ideas for improving our community. Applicants must live in the City of Schenectady and your idea must address an issue that you experience where you live. After all, we believe that the people closest to the issue should be closest to the solution!

We are very interested in funding at least one youth-driven project. We recognize that Schenectady’s youth may experience life in their neighborhoods differently than adults do, and they may have innovative, creative solutions to the issues they see. We want to hear those ideas, too! (Adults can help with applications and projects, but should not be “in charge” of them.)

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? Do you have a team of people to work on the project with you? The Challenge is about community-building, and we don’t want you to go it alone!

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? We can help with funding, guidance, and other kinds of support you might need.

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 in the future? Who will help to keep it up?


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. In Round 3, we are especially interested in community-building projects that may strengthen residents’ relationships with each other, or their identity as a cohesive neighborhood, etc.

Here, you'll find potential focus areas, but don't be afraid to branch out and try something different!

*Beautification *Environment *Public Saftey
*Communication *Health, Wellness, & Well-Being *Community Building
*Accessibility *Public Art *Citizen Engagement


Awards: We anticipate funding 6-8 projects in Round 3, from relatively modest projects to larger transformational projects, with a top award of up to $100,000. It’s not the size of the budget that impresses us, it’s the impact that can be achieved by even simple ideas to create community.


Technical Assistance: Assistance with your application is available by calling or emailing Kristi Milligan at the Foundation, (518) 393-9500 or KMilligan@schenectadyfoundation.org

Upon award, resident groups will be provided with facilitation and the resources of a consultant to ensure that their winning ideas can be successfully implemented and completed.


Example Projects


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Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/thrivingchallenge/TNC - Schenectady & Me Board.jpg Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/thrivingchallenge/TNC - Wallingford Park Splash Pad Board.jpg Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/thrivingchallenge/TNC - Woodlawn Park Geocache Challenge Board.jpg