ONE Lorain County
Connecting communities, building trust
In an effort to build a stronger community, the Community Foundation of Lorain County created the Ohio Neighborhood Engagement (ONE) Lorain County initiative to provide assistance to residents interested in working together. With a geographic focus on areas with the most economic challenges.
The short-term goal is to encourage residents to work together to improve their neighborhoods. The long-term goals are to strengthen neighborhoods and to develop civic engagement.
ONE Lorain County allows us to serve specific populations with limited ability to access the Community Foundation’s resources, grant money can only be provided to a 501c3 nonprofit.
The initiative began in April 2017 and invited residents of identified areas in Elyria and Lorain to share their ideas for how they can improve their neighborhood.
The areas were selected because of their location in high need/opportunity census tracts in Elyria and Lorain, and identified as Social Investment Zones by the NEO Sustainable Communities Coalition and Distressed Tracts by the Fund for Our Economic Future. Selection was also informed by a Five-Year Consolidated Plan published by the City of Lorain and input from Councilpersons Marcus Madison, Ward 5 Elyria, and Pamela Carter, Ward 3 Lorain.
The pilot phase is underway in Ward 5 in Elyria and Ward 3 in Lorain and offered up to ten (10) mini-grants up to $500 for each location. Groups of five (5) unrelated residents living in the identified applied for a grant to fund a project that can be completed in six months. El Centro de Servicios Sociales, Inc. has been a valued community partner in this intiative. El Centro
Residents attended three listening sessions to learn more about how they could participate, develop ideas for projects in their neighborhood, and then applied via a video application.
The listening sessions asked residents how they envision their community and what steps they were willing to take to make that change happen. Residents were asked to work with their neighbors to improve the quality of life on their street.
The Elyria Pilot Phase
The Elyria project included households along West Avenue between 6th and 14th Street.
Five resident-led grant applications were recorded via video for Elyria, each application had a minimum of five residents participating on the team.
See all the Application Videos here
The grant project groups were for Front Porch Repair, Garage/Home Repair, Landscaping, and Storm Doors. A fifth project includes a celebratory block party to bring the residents together after the improvement projects are completed.
The materials were purchased with grant funds and the intensive repair work was completed by volunteers from Simplified Facilities Group, LLC, a facility management company based out of Elyria. Simplified volunteers navigated a bucket truck around tight spaces between homes in order to repair soffit and eave trim, fixed or replaced unsafe boards on front porches, rebuilt a cement step that had crumbled.
Work continues on porch repair and landscaping.
The program is not focused solely on home repair even though many of the projects this time included repairs, many for elderly residents. Projects are shaped by the input and ideas of the residents.
The Lorain Pilot Phase
Two grant projects were awarded, Flower Pots and a Community Lawn Mower. Through El Centro, the grants aided the purchase of flower planters along West 22nd Street. The planters were installed and filled with summer annuals by the residents involved in the ONE Lorain County meetings. The community lawn mower is shared by residents along West 22nd, primarily assisting elderly neighbors that are unable to mow their lawns.
A celebratory block party was also held for West 22nd Street on August 31st, 2017. Over 40 residents attended.