Special to the ItemThe Schuylkill River Heritage Area is introducing a new mini-grant program that will provide $1, 000 for 10 small scale projects that promote cultural and natural resource preservation.

The mini-grants will be available for the first time this year, as part of the 2008 round of Heritage Area Grants awarded annually by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area.

The money will support small projects, such as publications, special events, educational programs and community endeavors. Such projects, while more modest and less costly than those traditionally funded by the SRHA, can still have a significant impact on communities throughout the Heritage Area.

The mini-grants will be available to non-profit organizations and local governments within the five-county region that makes up the Schuylkill River Heritage Area (including parts of Philadelphia, Montgomery, Chester, Berks and Schuylkill counties).

All funding for the grants comes from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Heritage Area Grant

Program. The Schuylkill River Heritage Area receives money annually from that program and distributes the funds to projects and programs that support the mission of the SRHA and benefit communities all along the river corridor.

In 2007, the SRHA used its $140, 000 allocation to fund eight projects in partnership with other communities and organizations.

For 2008, the SRHA will continue to support large projects, but will also devote $10, 000 of its DCNR allocation to the smaller scale mini-grants, funding 10 projects with awards of $1, 000.

The mini-grants will enable the SRHA to provide grants to more organizations and thereby stimulate more projects that benefit more communities and, ultimately, the entire region. In addition, the mini-grant application is far less extensive than that for larger grants, enabling smaller organizations to apply without devoting hours to the application process.

"We wanted to reach out and engage more partners," said Schuylkill River Heritage Area Executive Director Kurt Zwikl. "These mini-grants allow us to broaden our base and touch organizations that may not have been involved with us in the past. They also enable us to support projects at a different level than those typically awarded through planning and implementation grants."

Applications will be accepted through April 4 for projects to be completed between July 1 and December 31. Another round of applications will be accepted in October for projects to be completed by June 30 of 2009.

Projects will be considered for support based on how well they meet one or more of the five goals established in the SRHA's Management Plan, which calls for promoting resource conservation, education, recreation, community revitalization and tourism.

Recipients must provide a 50 percent cash match, at least 10 percent of which must be in private, non-governmental funds.

The Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area is a non-profit organization that uses conservation, education, recreation, historic preservation and tourism as tools for community revitalization and economic development. To learn more visit w ww.schuylkillriver.org

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