Sometimes for local organizations, a little bit of help is enough to start something new.
For the last several years, the local Grove Foundation has been awarding grants to organizations and nonprofits throughout the area whose work benefits the residents of Downers Grove.
“They don’t have to be a formal organization, they don’t have to have a board,” said Becky Rheintgen of the foundation. “They just have to show the need and show that your project is unique and different and that you’re supporting Downers Grove residents and benefiting from what you’re doing.”
Each year, a committee of members combs over grant applications for specific projects that benefit area residents, ranging from new stage lights for the Grove Players community theater group or new furniture for Senior Home Sharing.
One of the grant recipients from 2015, The GardenWorks Project, used its funds to build and plant four new raised vegetable gardens in the homes of local families on food stamps.
Tina Koral, the executive director for the nonprofit, said the funding helped not only expand the reach of the nonprofit – more than 100 gardens across DuPage County built since built since its founding in 2012 – but also establish a foothold in Downers Grove.
“Before that we didn’t have a huge contingency of volunteers in that area,” she said. “It forced us to make some new partnerships in Downers Grove, which was a nice thing for us.”
Rheintgen encouraged all organizations both in and out of the village itself to apply.
“Some people are intimidated when they see the grant process,” she said. “But it’s really a simple process – it’s just a letter. … If you leave something out we’ll call them out and say ‘Hey can you elaborate on this?’ We really enjoy giving the money away and we want more people to choose from.”