I made it to the second session of grantee interviews last night, out in Mt. Pleasant. We interviewed six grant-seekers over at three hour period. The segregation of Cleveland proper was really brought home to me during this time. The Neighborhood Connections GMMC is quite a diverse bunch of people, and by necessity. Also by necessity, people that don’t live in the neighborhoods that send the grants are the ones who decide which grants get funded. This helps avoid conflicts of interest, but also creates some awkward-feeling situations. I’m the youngest member of the committee and a minority on it since I’m white and a dude.
The appearance of our sub-committee doesn’t exactly reflect the diversity of the whole group, though. I’m afraid that to many of the folks coming in, it looked like black folk coming to white folk for money. My sub-group [of which I’m just an alternate] is composed of 3 smart and experienced women, two white and one black. I mainly sit back and let them ask the questions and act like a sponge. It is surprisingly easy to tell how prepared some of the grantseekers are, how enthusiastic they are about their program, how viable their program is.
Apparently, Mt. Pleasant has a lot of crime and a few times the group stopped talking grants and started talking community activism, which I suppose should be expected considering no one is a member of the GMMC unless they are active in their own communities. I’m wondering about the declined grant-seeker process. I wonder if the committee gives reasons why a grant is declined. I think it would be useful, because some grants would be awesome if they could be implemented or organized a bit better.