Community Foundation ‘forks’ over grants for youth-friendly ideas

Chilly Goodman and Vinicius Sant’Ana of the Grand Forks Symphony pitch their idea to the judges at the first ever “Forkin It Over” grant party at the Empire Arts Center Thursday. Photo credit: Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

People arrived at the Empire Arts Center on Thursday ready to pitch their ideas for projects that would make Grand Forks a friendlier place for young people.

Their pitch gave them a chance to earn a grant that would get their project up and running.

The catch was they only had 60 seconds to do it.

It all was part of “Forkin It Over,” a microgrant program created this year by the Community Foundation and funded through the Knight Foundation.

“We want our community to be more welcoming and open to young people,” said Kristin Shea, a Community Foundation board member.

In their application, participants identified issues that exist between young people and the community and proposed projects to address the issues and increase understanding, interaction and cooperation between them and the community.

Each had a minute to present their idea to a panel of judges. The ideas ranged from events to community art and music projects to charity programs. Others included a radio station featuring local artists and residents, a phone app for navigating the community and an online events calendar.

The top grant earning projects were a floating rock concert pitched by Matt Winjum and a floating picnic event proposed by Andy Magness, both of which received $3,000.

In all, 20 individuals or groups showed up at the Empire Arts Center to pitch their ideas. The pitches totaled $66,000 with $21,000 up for grabs from the foundation.

While only 15 ideas received funding, panel judge Bruce Gjovig told those who didn’t received money not to worry.

“We want you to know there wasn’t a project that wasn’t worth funding,” he said. Gjovig promised those who did not receive a grant that night that they could expect the Community Foundation to help them get funded.

Pitches receiving grants:

  • Andy Magness: $3,000 for floating picnic series.
  • Matt Winjum: $3,000 for floating rock concert.
  • Cynthia Shabb: $2,000 for bringing Nepali and Bhutanese music to venues in Grand Forks.
  • Katie Fink: $1,500 for community chalkboards.
  • Chilly Goodman: $1,500 for pre-concert events for Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra.
  • Tim Knight: $1,500 for new bike racks and bike rental project.
  • Hana Mattern: $1,500 for TEDx Grand Forks.
  • Mike Peterson: $1,500 for community-based smartphone app.
  • Anne Zimmer: $1,500 for downtown winter carnival and ice skating.
  • Erin Kunz: $1,000 for story-sharing project between elders and millennials.
  • Jason Schaefer: $1,000 for creating online community hub featuring calendar and blog.
  • Angela Vrolyk: $1,000 for a portable community graffiti wall.
  • Jessica Knight: $500 to pay young people’s community choir dues.
  • Alan Oberg: $500 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day service project.
  • Laura Roach: $500 for event aiming to connect students with nonprofits.

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