Help Needed – Good Neighbor Fund Grants

By Kathy Knudson:

Most of you may not know about this grant program. It is an annual grant program awarded by the U of M to approved applicants from the immediate University area. SECIA is one of those approved applicants. In 2022 we submitted three grants. We were supposed to know in May, then June, if we received the grant awards. Then because of internal problems and turnovers in the department at the U that administers these grants, we had no word all summer. In late September, we were notified that we received all three grants.

The overall purpose of the GNF grants is to enhance and protect the beauty, serenity, and security of the communities around the University of Minnesota (Mpls & St. Paul). All grants from our community should be sent via SECIA. Our first grant was to purchase and set up equipment to facilitate hybrid meetings, meaning meetings held both on Zoom and in person at the same time. Ben Brummel led that effort, the equipment has been purchased and used for several hybrid meetings already. Doesn’t mean they aren’t still learning how to use it at various sites.

The other two grants were planned for summer venues; we need to complete them by the end of next September. In the meanwhile, we expect our next grant proposal applications will be due in late March, maybe early April. If anyone has a great idea, let someone know. If not me, someone you know who is on the Board or an applicable committee. Note that we cannot use this grant program for something we have already done, so we can’t suggest a Pollinator Party, a Bike Fest, a Sustainability Fair, or something else you remember doing already.

They are due at 5 pm on March 30 and must be reviewed and endorsed by SECIA before sent in for consideration. SECIA will act as the fiscal agent for any GNF grants submitted through SECIA. For more information, see or talk to board president DeWayne Townsend or contact me at

Art in the Gardens Grant
This grant is meant to encourage people to come to our various community gardens and take a good look – and document what might inspire them about our beautiful neighborhood garden green spaces! This is a 2022 awarded GNF grant that will be completed over the 2023 summer months as our gardens are growing and changing.

We are still looking for two more artists to lead two sessions each. Note that there is a stipend of $50 for each session taught. Hoping for one junior or senior art student and one artist from CW Lofts. Contact if you want more information or are interested.

Art Fair in the Park Grant

This is also a GNF grant that was awarded in Sept of 2022.  It will be held on Saturday, July 15 at Van Cleve Park. There will be four major areas of the Fair:

  • Arts and Crafts outdoor sales (for vendors, along with small art and craft projects and classes)
  • Music and Dance (with diverse artists that make you want to move)
  • Prose and Poetry (with book sales and a live mic for readings)
  • An Art Show for students and non-professionals (to be held in the gym, with small prizes)  

We’ll need subcommittees of 3 to 4 people for each area and eventually lots of both volunteers for the art fair and participants in the art fair. Will have more information as planning continues. Again, contact if you want to help.

The Arts and Crafts section will be outdoors with booths for both artists and craft people who have artwork and crafts to sell. This section, hopefully, will also have an area for some of our SE Seniors and others to help attendees to learn to crochet, knit, and/or do other crafts along with donated yarn and other materials to give away. The Art in the Gardens sessions will also be in this area. This subcommittee will recruit vendors, volunteers, and others and organize the area.

Music and Dance will be centered primarily in the patio area, but will be free to roam. We will be looking for colorful groups that encourage people to listen, interact, and dance. Think Brazil Dance (hope they are still available this summer, had them booked last summer), a drumming group, and others.

Prose and Poetry will include an open mike with poetry and prose readings, book autographing and sales hopefully with local writers and other writers from The Loft and the U. and small writing sessions for the kids. I know a couple local writers/poets already. Who else do you know?

The Art Show will be in the gym. We will be inviting art students and others from the U and the neighborhood to participate. Artists who aren’t professionals yet but want to exhibit (and possibly sell) their art will be welcome, with a maximum of three pieces of art. This is planned as a monitored, and possibly juried event. There will be small prizes for each category. There will be hors d’oeuvres. And children must be accompanied by their parent(s). Our biggest challenge will be figuring out how to display the artwork.
If you are interested in helping with any of these areas or have any advice or good contact information, please contact me at