Lots of grant opportunities have come across our desks (er…computer screens) over the last two weeks, and we’ve curated that list to present you with those that look most viable. Here you go:

1) ‘Let’s Play’ Community Construction Grants, from KaBOOM! & Dr. Pepper – Deadline: July 20

You may have seen the organization spoofed on Parks and Recreation, but don’t be mislead: KaBOOM! really does work with communities to build playgrounds in 24 hours, and here’s a great opportunity to team up with their efforts. Eligible applicants for $15,000 awards include municipalities, neighborhood associations, nonprofits, schools, and daycare centers. Criteria include the ability to raise matching funds, demonstrated need, demonstrated capacity to build and maintain the equipment, and a projected positive community impact. Learn more by clicking here.

2) Tourism Cares- Deadline: July 2

This organization is offering up to six awards of $10,000 to tourism-related organizations seeking funds to preserve, restore, or educate visitors about a significant historical, cultural, or natural resource in their community. Eligible sites should be “critical to the interpretation of the local area, or essential to the maintenance of the history or culture of local indigenous peoples.” Apply online here.

3) Civic Data Challenge – Deadline: July 29

The Knight Foundation, in partnership with the National Conference on Citizenship, is offering grants to applicants who use innovative techniques of making data related to education, health, safety, civic health, and the economy both useful and visually engaging to both decision-makers and the public. Both individuals and organizations are eligible for participation. Learn more at the Civic Data Challenge website. We’re thinking about taking the challenge; anyone want to join us??

4) Bank of America Charitable Foundation Workforce Development RFP – July 2

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation is seeking applications from nonprofits with programs aimed at addressing unemployment. Learn more at this link.

‘Just in time’ Education – A new educational model for Community Colleges

An article posted on The Atlantic Cities, tells the story of the shutdown of a manufacturing plant and a community colleges unique approach to revitalization in Dayton, Ohio. Dayton was once home to a GM manufacturing plant which is now closed, leading to the loss of some 26,000 jobs. The shut down left many unemployed and the empty buildings a reminder that manufacturing jobs are long gone in Dayton. There is a bright spot on the map of Dayton however. Sinclair, a local community college is taking a new approach to higher education. In summation, the community college has a field of study in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs. The college’s President, Steven Johnson, explains that the UAV training program is part a new educational model, to prepare students for the diversified 21st century economy. Johnson explains that the typical 4 years of college from the age of 18 to 22 doesn’t work for everyone. He sees his community college as a place for ongoing learning and an opportunity for people to return to school to refresh their knowledge and possibly retrain in a new field. This is the new educational model he is calling ‘just in time’ education, paralleling the idea of ‘just in time’ production.

This had me thinking of Bristol Community College here on the south coast. Situated in the struggling economies of the south coast industrial cities, I wondered whether there were any programs available tailored to new technology that may be coming to the region. What I found was similar to that of Sinclair in Ohio. In the new era of green technology and renewable energy, the south coast has been the focus of the wind turbine project, Cape Wind. It seems as though Bristol Community College is prepping its students for ‘just in time’ education as well. The college offers a Mechanical Technology with Wind Power Career Program which contains courses in mathematics, manufacturing and materials. While only one course is offered pertaining specifically to wind technology, the program has many elective opportunities for specialized learning that would prepare students for a career in the wind energy manufacturing industry.

Nearly half of the population of the greater Dayton region, 550,000 people, has taken at least one class at Sinclair. Hopefully residents of the south coast can look at BCC as a place to refresh and retrain as many residents of the Dayton, Ohio area have to Sinclair Community College.

Mayor Bloomberg offers $5m to innovative cities

New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, through his private foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, has issued a challenge to US mayors in every city whose population exceeds 30,000. The challenge is for mayors to submit a bold idea for solving an urban problem, and the reward is $5 million for the winner and $1m to each of four finalists. The funds are intended to not just implement the idea, but also to make the effort replicable in other cities so that Bloomberg’s investment has a broader impact.

Applications are due on September 14, but all cities that plan to apply must RSVP by July 16. Learn more about the challenge and how to apply at this link, and read about it in The Atlantic Cities and Next American City.

Event: Nonprofit fundraising workshop

Our friends at the UMass Dartmouth Center for University and School Partnerships (CUSP) are offering a terrific event on nonprofit fundraising right here in the SouthCoast. If you read our monthly newsletter, you know that it’s rare to have such events located close to home (usually a drive to Boston or Providence is involved), so check out more details here and be sure to register soon!

WHAT:Nonprofit fundraising workshop for those interested in obtaining grants in the education, public, and/or private sectors. Topics will include grant research, preparing a development strategy, developing a budget, building objectives, and writing grant proposals.

WHEN: Saturday, June 23, 9a-3p

WHERE: CUSP office, 200 Mill Rd., Fairhaven

COST: $75, includes lunch. Limited scholarships available on request.

Again, learn more at this link:



Commuting Convoys of the Future


Often used by freight truckers to travel long distances in teams, convoys are on the verge of being used to commute to work. Safe Road Trains for the Environment (Sartre) in partnership with Volvo have completed a test on public highway outside of Barcelona of their “road-train”. Led by a truck operated by a professional driver, another truck and three Volvo sedans followed in line, operated by semi-autonomous cars.

Connected by a wireless network, the cars drive in line, with at 20ft buffer between each car. Each car follows the driving pattern of the lead car/truck, mimicking acceleration, braking and steering actions. The implications of such driving are reduced fuel consumption, safer roadways by reduced human error and reduced congestion by uniform travel. While in the road-train, the driver is also free to do as they please, eat breakfast, drink a cup of coffee, or anything on their smart phone or tablet.

This project aims to fix the urban problem of traffic congestion while supporting environmental protection. Traffic congestion, especially around rush hour, is a major urban problem that simply widening a roadway cannot fix. These road trains would reduce congestion by having a uniform mode of travel. Each car in the train travels at the same speed, eliminating lane changes. The human element is taken out of the equation, with exception of the professional lead driver, doing away with over breaking and reckless lane changes. An added benefit of driving in the road-train is decreased fuel consumption. This is made possible by ‘drafting’ behind the other cars in the train. Reduced wind resistance by traveling closely to the car in front of you saves fuel, but is dangerous without knowing the intentions of the driver in front of you. The autonomous cars are able to communicate acceleration and braking wirelessly, making drafting safe and efficient.

This potential of this project does not come without a financial cost however. The necessary upgrades would need to be made to vehicles to make them capable of autonomous driving in road-trains. Another major question is who the responsibility of supplying the professional drivers for the lead cars falls upon. Certainly, autonomous driving isn’t ready to be implemented tomorrow, but someday in the future you may be able to commute up RT 24 to Boston while reading a book or watching the latest episode of your favorite television show.

Via The Atlantic Cities

The North Slope and the South Coast

by Robert Golder, Graduate Research Asst., Urban Initiative.

Last summer, I commuted to work via helicopter. I spent two-and-a-half months above the Arctic Circle in Alaska, often living in a tent on the tundra while working as a research assistant on fisheries migration studies in rivers of the North Slope and in the Brooks Range, on the western edge of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I studied Arctic grayling (Thymallus arcticus), a troutlike fish of far northern latitudes. I caught, weighed, and measured thousands of fish, and then subcutaneously injected an electronic tag into each one. The tagged fish were tracked by remote antenna stations that our team installed, during multiple helicopter trips, across the wilderness of the North Slope. There was a severe drought in the Arctic last summer, so the grayling demonstrated some very unusual migration behavior. However, our tags captured all the data we needed in order to understand the fishes’ movements.

The author prepares to tag an Arctic grayling at Oksrukuyik Creek, North Slope, Alaska, Summer 2011.

This summer, I commute to work via a twenty-two-year old Ford Ranger, arising each morning from my familiar bed in my New Bedford home to drink some coffee, pet my dog, and drive to Dartmouth. I’m a graduate research assistant in the Urban Initiative program, and some of my friends wonder whether I’ll miss the Arctic wilderness too much. It’s true that I love camping in the endless expanses of northern Alaska, and I don’t mind dodging grizzly bears and mosquitoes as much as some other folks do. But there are extraordinary parallels between my Arctic work and my urban work that make it very exciting to be here this summer.

One project I’m working on involves the Taunton Housing Authority, which is about to bulldoze an old low-income housing complex and build two new ones as replacements. THA’s clients could be displaced by the housing renewal project. Just like the Arctic grayling, these clients will “migrate.” Our team needs to find these clients and survey them to discover their current status and future housing needs. We also need to go to Taunton to locate and survey neighborhood residents living within a one-mile radius of the housing complex.

Although I will draw upon other past experiences as Field Operations Supervisor for New Bedford during the 2010 U.S. Census, it is not mere hyperbole to say that I expect to use the Arctic grayling studies as a successful model for working in Taunton. Like the Arctic grayling population in last year’s drought, some of the Taunton human population has been displaced from their normal comings and goings. I must find them, “catch” them even if they do not want to be interviewed, and “tag” them using a survey that identifies their characteristics.

So although I will not be in the Arctic this summer, something of the Arctic will be in me, even on the streets and sidewalks of Taunton.

Another day at the office. The author in the Brooks Range, northern Alaska, Summer 2011.

Meet New Blogger Evan

By Evan Desrochers, 2012 Summer Intern

Hello Readers,

My name is Evan and I am a newly hired summer Intern at the Urban Initiative. I am an undergraduate Economics major at UMass Dartmouth, studying to complete my degree in the fall of 2012. The field of Economics has opened my eyes to the inner workings of markets and how the slightest variation or change can have major implications. I enjoy seeing how new technology influences the way we make decisions and the relationship it plays with consumers daily. I hope to contribute new and insightful information to the blog each week from urban issues to new innovations cities around the nation are implementing.

Happy Reading!