Congratulations to this year's MLC grant recipients. This is the second year of this collaborative grant round, which was established in celebration of the 10th anniversary of SCCF. In order to be eligible for this grant, multiple organizations apply together in order to address an overarching issue on the Plateau. Each of the following collaborative groups will receive a grant of $20,000 for their projects.
1. St. Mark's Community Center, Mountain T.O.P., and Growing Roots. These three community partners wish to revitalize the St. Mark's community center as a community center and to expand the role of the organization on the southeast side of Sewanee. They envision serving the historic St. Mark's community and the broader group of people who have roots in that community as well as the white community in Sewanee and Midway. They also want to make broader connections across the Plateau. The presenting project is a community garden, which will be managed by people with connection to the historic community. Mountain T.O.P. will assist with the construction, and that organization seeks an inroad into the Sewanee community to provide home repairs (whereas Housing Sewanee focuses on new construction). Growing Roots will provide gardening design and expertise. All three partners will develop programming to serve the community, from information on weatherization and insulation to home canning and nutrition to gardening. The project will attend to establishing the St. Mark's Community Center as an independent organization with a full slate of services for both black and white citizens.
2. Monteagle Elementary School and Morton Memorial Food Bank. These two partners launched a conversation about collaboration at the grant orientation session in early June to prepare organizations to apply for a collaborative grant. The School has made attempts in the past to launch a backpack program for their students in homes that experience food insecurity. With limited funds and limited knowledge of food purchases and availability, they could only make limited positive changes in students' lives. Morton Memorial Food Ministry, on the other hand, has years of experience purchasing food at low cost, making connections with local food suppliers, and distributing food to people who need it. The collaboration will allow each organization to leverage its expertise. The school knows its students and knows where intervention can make a difference in school success and the church knows about food acquisition and distribution. The $20,000 proposed will provide for food for two years, allowing Morton Memorial to develop financial partnerships that will sustain the program in the future. As one committee member put it, "this is a sensible extension of both partners' mission and can achieve measurable impact."
3. Grundy County Heritage Society, the Town of Tracy City, TN's South Cumberland Tourism Partnership, and the Mountain Goat Trail Alliance. These four partners have an ambitious plan for placemaking and inclusive public accommodation in downtown Tracy City that they hope will go far toward revitalizing that commercial district. The project will complement Old Roundhouse Park with public spaces for festivals and other such events. It will capitalize on the tourist draw of the Tracy City Historical District. By adding the potential for festivals and music in the central downtown space, this project will contribute to the sense of energy and community in Tracy City which has been begun by improvements such as the park, its community-created mural, and the additions to the Historical Center. The cultural and social opportunities for people on the Plateau will be expanded by this project. The project has three phases, each costing about $20,000, and each being able to independently further the overall project. The committee elected to fund one of the phases (to be selected by the grantee).
Photo: Morton Memorial Food Distribution.