Generational scholarship awarded to five winners

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Organizations dedicated to affordable housing, education and women in need are among the recipients of an ambitious grant program designed to spur generational change in minority communities in Erie County.

Miscellaneous Eriealso known as the Erie County Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission, announced Thursday that $1.1 million will go to five winners under the first round of its grants program to generational impact:

  • Eastside Renaissance, Inc.
  • GMA Development Group, LLC
  • Greater Erie Economic Development Corporation
  • Women’s Mercy Center
  • Coalition for Investment in Minority Communities

Each of the winners received $250,000, except for the Mercy Center for Women, which received $100,000.

The grant program, which launched in July and invests in programs and projects that seek to have a lasting impact on people who are Black, Indigenous or of color, marks Diverse Erie’s first grant disbursement since its inception in September 2021.

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Diverse Erie is funded by $3.5 million in federal funds from the US bailout.

Gary Lee, executive director of Diverse Erie, told the Erie Times-News that he was thrilled to see the grant program kick off.

“We are making history today,” he said after a Thursday press conference at Savocchio Opportunity Park. “We are impacting lives and those lives are going to impact other lives. So by making a seed investment and leveraging the money that we invest in this community, it will go a long, long way. .”

Winners envision major improvements

Jennie Hagerty, executive director of the Mercy Center for Women, said the grant will be used to renovate the Mercy Anchor Community Center building at 1012 E. 28th St., which is slated to open in late fall.

“We will now be able to use this incredible gift to provide the comprehensive services needed by the people we serve,” she said.

Eastside Renaissance Inc. of Erie will use the grant money for the construction and revitalization of properties on Parade Street, including community spaces, educational opportunities and to promote entrepreneurship, according to a press release from Diverse Erie. .

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The GMA Development Group will expand the Pre-Apprenticeship in Construction Trades initiative to provide classroom and on-the-job exposure to underrepresented populations interested in construction trades, the statement said.

The Greater Erie Economic Development Corporation will make capital improvements to the RB Wiley Complex to ensure continuity of services to the Black, Indigenous or Colored community, the statement continued.

“The Urban Erie Community Development Corporation and the Minority Community Investment Coalition have been working on this project since 2005,” said Gary Horton, president of the Urban Erie Community Development Corporation. “Funding to move this project into the construction phase is critical to realizing the dreams of our Eastside Grassroots Coalition neighborhood residents.”

The second round of the Generational Impact Grant program remains open until October 18.

Applications and more details on the program and eligibility are available at diverserie.org.

Diverse Erie launches small business fund

Earlier this month, Diverse Erie launched its Small Business Fund, a nearly $2 million fund to support the creation and growth of minority-owned businesses in Erie County.

The commission has earmarked $500,000 and leveraged those funds by bringing together public and private partners to create the $1.8 million fund. Contributors to the fund include:

  • Erie County Redevelopment Authority: $250,000
  • Erie County Gaming Tax Authority: $250,000
  • Erie Community Foundation: $125,000
  • Greater Erie Economic Development Corporation: $250,000
  • Business Development Fund: $500,000

“The Small Business Fund is truly a meaningful and sustainable program that will not only support the growth of local BIPOC-owned businesses, but also help attract business to Erie County,” said Gerald Blanks, Chairman of the Board of administration of Diverse Erie in a press release. “This fund also represents the power to mobilize funds to advance economic development goals to support future generations.”

The Diverse Erie Small Business Fund will be hosted and administered by the Enterprise Development Fund, the only certified community development financial institution based in Erie County, according to the release.

AJ Rao can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ETNRao.

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