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McAlester Makers is excited to announce the inaugural Strength in Neighbors block grants program. Strength in Neighbors will award up to $1,000 in matching grants to neighbors that improve their homes. Successful applications must have at least five participating neighbors on the block.

Allowable improvements will be exterior facing and include projects such as painting, landscaping, and siding repair. Grants will be available to homeowners and landlords. Anyone interested is encouraged to apply but priority will be given to blocks within a designated target zone.

Applications are available now at mcalestermakers.com. They must be completed by November 15. Winners will be announced on December 15 and work must be completed by April 1.

Strength in Neighbors committee chair Zach Prichard described the project, “We want to do more than help neighbors make improvements to their places. We want to foster cooperation from the neighbors and help create pride in their places.” Prichard explained that is why the grants require a matching contribution, “ We want everyone to be invested in the solution.”

The program is modeled after the Oswego Renaissance Association’s (ORA) Block Challenge. Oswego, a small city in upstate New York, was struggling with deteriorating neighborhoods when the ORA was formed. Since 2013, the group has awarded grants fueling over $2.5 million in private neighborhood investment. In 2018 alone the group provided over $190,000 in grants leading to over $580,000 of private investment.

McAlester Makers president Damon Mascoto described the impact he expects the program will have, “It’s not uncommon to see the grant dollars spur private investment many times higher than the match requirement. I can easily see this first round of grants generating an additional $30,000 in private investment.” Mascoto said this project fits perfectly with his group's purpose adding, “Big changes often happen through small, continual improvements that encourage others to be a part of the change.”

McAlester Makers Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in McAlester, Oklahoma dedicated to promoting economic stability and growth by cultivating and equipping local entrepreneurs, artisans, and the community they live in. Makers raises funds through their popular Grill Marks Festival Series and Little Festival on the Prairie.

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