City of Jackson Receives Love Your Block Grant to Help Residents ‘Beautify’ Their Neighborhoods

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The city of Jackson has been selected to participate in the Love Your Block grant program, which allows cities and neighborhood organizations to partner and essentially “beautify” their communities.

As one of eight US cities selected for the program, Jackson will receive a total of $ 100,000 over the next two years to fund community improvement projects.

More than 50 cities across the United States have already received this grant, revitalizing more than 3,500 community areas with nearly 750 art exhibits, eliminating nearly 6 million pounds of garbage, cleaning up 98,000 square feet of graffiti and other related activities.

Lauren Kirk, director of performance management for the City of Jackson, hopes to see a similar impact in Jackson.

“We are delighted with this! ” she said. “Cities of Service is the funder of the grant program, and basically they provide funding for two years. A portion of this funding goes towards hiring a fellow, and a portion of this funding goes to mini-grants to be given to the community, such as community organizations that want to do projects that are linked to the overall mission of the program – eliminate the scourge, promote green spaces, beautification and things like that.

“Eliminate the scourge,” a phrase that comes up often in discussions surrounding the grant, simply refers to eye sores in the community such as overgrown parking lots, damaged and abandoned storefronts, and so on.

Graffiti is one of the targets of this grant, which will allow residents to apply for funding to help clean up buildings in Jackson.

“Historically, the town of Jackson has had a lot of burn issues,” said director of community development Justin Searcy, who will oversee project operations with Kirk. “We want to preserve the territory by allowing new opportunities and new advances for the city.

Searcy says this support will help create better opportunities for residents.

“We are trying to create a vision of the city that offers opportunities for everyone, so for example, where there may be damaged or dilapidated houses, we are just trying to rebuild those houses,” he said. . “So we’re just trying to create a basis for what that (beautification) looks like.

“We’re trying to create more opportunities for all of Jackson. Because the reality is that when we look at the data, Jackson suffers from a lack of opportunities (for residents to look to improve). “

The grant will also fund the hiring of two AmeriCorps VISTA members to help with the project, as well as a Love Your Block member who will come from Jackson.

A paint splattered door in downtown Jackson is a prime example of an easy repair that can be fixed in the process of "beautify" Jackson.

“Currently, we are in the process of drafting a job description for the two fellows that we will have,” Searcy said. “A day-to-day situation for (scholarship recipients) will be to let them go out into the community, communicate with residents and be part of special projects.

“We want to be able to go out and communicate with residents and create a different perspective for the city. “

According to Kirk, this grant program differs from other programs in the city because of its direct support to residents.

“This program is a bit unique, because it not only gives the city money to do something, but it gives us money to give our residents to do something – it is focused on empowerment, ”she said. “Of course, the city as an institution can do a lot for our residents, but we love when we can work together to solve our own problems.

“I like that it’s a participatory and resident empowerment approach. It’s tied to tangible solutions in our communities, and I think we’ll see a real difference in our public spaces.

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Searcy and Kirk plan to have the three additional hires by November and start implementing projects by December.

Applications for the positions are now open and can be viewed here.

For Searcy, the success of this program is personal.

“It’s personal to me because I’m from Jackson,” he said. “So for me, being able to give the residents a voice, I feel that it gives everyone the opportunity to have a new perspective. We’re trying to think outside the box here, and we’re trying to do something bigger than we’ve done in the past. We are eager to engage people. “

Residents who wish to apply for funding under the program can expect to see more information on the topic in the near future. In the meantime, interested parties are asked to email Justin Searcy at [email protected], or call him at 731-425-8368.

Got a story to tell? Contact Angele Latham by email at [email protected], by phone at 731-343-5212, or follow her on Twitter at @angele_latham.


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