the CRA forward fund 2016

To read more about Forward Fund 2015 click here.

Purpose and goals

The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority’s Forward Fund (the Fund) is a micro-grant program intended to reinvest development funds generated in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Area to fund pilot projects by non-profit organizations, community groups, and small businesses across the City of Cambridge. The Fund supports specific innovative civic improvement projects and creative physical interventions that better Cambridge’s built environment for the benefit of all the city’s residents, workers, and visitors. 

The Fund's goals are to:

  • Advance the CRA’s mission to implement creative initiatives that promote social equity and a balanced economic system.
  • Support innovative proposals that craft resourceful projects to take advantage of local knowledge in order to maximize potential benefits. 
  • Offer awards to a diverse set of entities whose proposals are both feasible and supportive of economic vitality, livability, and sustainability in Cambridge. 

Available Funding

The CRA will distribute up to $80,000 for 2016. The CRA reserves the right to allocate funding flexibly depending on the quality of applications received.


Three Award Types

Applicants may apply for one of three award types. The award categories are:

Planning & Design grants 

Maximum Value: $5,000

Awards offered to applicants aiming to assess/study the feasibility of a specific proposed innovative civic improvement project or creative physical intervention in the public realm. Planning & Design grants are paid at the time of award. Funds are not to be used for programming, only for the development of ideas for a specific physical improvement project. Funds in this category are not required to be matched by a third party. Awardees of Planning & Design grants may apply for Capital Grants to implement their project the following calendar year.

Innovation/Experimentation Capital grants 

Maximum Value: $10,000

Awards offered to applicants piloting innovative specific civic improvement projects and creative physical interventions in the public realm. This grant targets projects that encourage, enable, or execute a physical innovation, “avant garde” placemaking, or tactical urbanism in public and civic space, whether publically or privately owned. This type of grant is intended to tap into Cambridge’s inherent ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit, and express that physically in the urban landscape.

Innovation Capital Grants require a 1:1 organizational match - which could include another outside funding source or in-kind/volunteer matching resource[1]. Innovation Capital Grants are to be paid 50% at the time of award, and 50% at the completion of the project. Funds are to be primarily for specific physical improvements, but up to 5% may be used for associated programming.

Infrastructure Capital grants 

Maximum Value: $10,000

Awards offered to applicants seeking to fund a physical improvement project that serves a civic or neighborhood need regardless of innovativeness. This may include a neighborhood project in the public right of way, or it may be an infrastructure project for a non-profit or a Cambridge-based independent small business with a civic mission that touches a significant amount of the population. Projects involving private property will need to specifically demonstrate the “publicness” or civic value of the investment. If the proposal is for the grant to be part of a much larger project, it will need to demonstrate that the CRA investment is filling a substantial and critically necessary gap in the viability of that project and show specifically how that money will be used.

Infrastructure Capital Grants require a 1:1 organizational match - which could include another outside funding source or in-kind/volunteer matching resource[1]. Infrastructure Capital Grants are to be paid 50% at the time of award, and 50% at the completion of the project. Funds are to be primarily for specific physical improvements, but up to 5% may be used for associated programming.


Who should apply

The Fund is intended to use resources generated in Cambridge, combined with talent and organizational capacity within Cambridge, to ultimately benefit the city in new and imaginative ways. Eligibility is intentionally left open to any nonprofit (501c3) organization, nonprofit organization that has an agreement with a (501c3) fiscal sponsor, or a Cambridge-based independent small business. It is anticipated the applicants may include neighborhood groups, human services organizations, independent restaurants, retailers, inventors, artists, entrepreneurs, civic organizations, and more.

What Types of Projects We expect

In the spirit of our first operating principle – Act – the CRA Forward Fund is intended to use redevelopment tools imaginatively to take action by piloting innovative projects throughout the City. Ultimately the audience for these projects is all Cambridge residents, workers, and visitors. There is no theme or required topic that projects must focus on during this inaugural phase. By keeping the Fund as open-ended as possible we hope inspire and touch more people, get more tangibly accomplished, build the civic and social capital of the City, and ultimately advance the future of Cambridge forward, faster.

While we are not specifying a theme or topic for the projects, the following are some suggested themes to prompt creative ideas and conversation. Think about how the following concepts relate to the physical urban landscape and/or tackle an existing problem or need in the urban landscape: Invention, reflection, exploration, history, discovery, fun, mystery, welcome, commentary, delight, legibility, explanation, grace, industrial design.


Eligibility Criteria

Projects must meet all of the following yes/no criteria in order to be eligible:

  1. Located within Cambridge and either fully publically accessible on public or private property, or is part of an institution with a civic/social/neighborhood mission that is open to and serves the community in the broadest possible sense.
  2. Achieves a physical improvement that does not require any additional ongoing funding from the CRA or the City to operate or maintain. Funds are not to be used for programming, only physical improvements (except in the case of capital grants which allow up to 5% to be used for associated programming).
  3. Request does not exceed award maximums.
  4. Applicant is a nonprofit organization (501c3), an organization that has an agreement with a (501c3) fiscal sponsor, an individual with a letter of collaboration and support from a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor, or is a Cambridge-based independent small business[3]. All projects must be based in Cambridge and demonstrate a tangible benefit to Cambridge citizens. Only projects that demonstrate a direct value to the City of Cambridge and its population will be considered for funding. Individual artists, artist groups, civic organizations, and community organizations are all eligible to apply for funds. No public sector applicants are allowed. Please read the FAQs for further detail.
  5. The applicant must have control over the proposed project site, or have a letter of support from the property owner if applying for a capital grant. Proposed projects on CRA or City land will also be entertained.

Evaluation Criteria

Project proposals will be evaluated and scored based on the following criteria by an advisory group to consist of a combination of CRA staff and City of Cambridge staff from various departments:

Project Related Scoring Criteria:

  1. Alignment with the purpose and goals of the Fund and the CRA mission and operating principles
  2. Increase the quality of the built environment / public realm, tackle a public need, or provide an amenity
  3. Demonstrates a tangible public benefit in an under-resourced area of Cambridge designated by the City of Cambridge Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Areas
  4. Alignment with and support of current Cambridge planning and development efforts and regulations[4]
  5. Level of public access and visibility of the project

Applicant Related Scoring Criteria:

  1. Demonstrated capacity of applicant to successfully implement the project
  2. Realistic financial feasibility of the project
  3. Financial need of applicant

The CRA reserves the right to apply additional evaluation criteria before accepting projects.


Procedure

Application and Awarding of Funds

I. Planning & Design Grants (max $5,000)

  • Submit online application form and attachment
  • Forward Fund advisory group assesses proposals
  • Finalists meet with CRA staff
  • Applicants and awardees are notified
  • Awards are issued in full
  • Outcome reporting due within two months of completion date or by January 15, 2017 whichever is sooner

II. Capital Grants (max $10,000)

  • Submit online application form and attachment
  • Forward Fund advisory group assesses proposals
  • Finalists meet with CRA staff
  • Applicants and awardees are notified
  • Applicants seek and obtain permits necessary for project implementation, submit finalized budget proposals
  • Provisional 50% awards are granted to awardees who have successfully obtained the necessary permits and documentation of matching funds and/or services
  • Final 50% of funds are granted after completion of the project
  • Outcome reporting within two months of completion date or by January 15, 2017 whichever is sooner

 

Outcomes

As the CRA seeks to continuously improve and expand our program offerings, we hope to understand and document our impact in the Cambridge community.

  • Awardees need to document the impact of the final project with any combination of photos, a 1-2 page written narrative, a video, or other creative mediums.
  • Within two months of project completion but no later than January 15, 2017, awardees are asked to submit these materials regarding their project’s impact for the community.
  • Quantitative data is encouraged if relevant and available (i.e.: number of people visiting the site, number of people attending an event, associated matching or fundraising, economic impact, etc).

Governance Structure

A CRA staff member responsible for receiving applications and responding to questions regarding the application process will manage the Forward Fund on a day-to-day basis. An advisory group consisting of CRA and City of Cambridge staff from various departments will be appointed to evaluate proposals and determine winners. Advisory group members for 2016 include the following members:

Pardis Saffari, Economic Development (Community Development Department)
Gary Chan, Community Planning (Community Development Department)
Jason Zogg, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority
John Nardone, Department of Public Works
Lillian Hsu, Cambridge Arts Council
Kristen Fernandes, Inspectional Services Department
Martha Tai, Cambridge Housing Authority
Nancy Tauber, Kids Council (Human Services Department)
Paul Ryder, Recreation (Human Services Department)

Submission Deadline

Grant applications are due Monday, March 14 2016 at 5:00pm, with funding approvals announced by Friday, April 1, 2016.

Submission Format

Digital submissions using the online application are required. Please click the button below to start your application. Applications can be worked on and saved and then returned to later if necessary before submitting the final version. If you would like to see a preview of the questions on the form, click here for a PDF. Note that not all questions seen in the PDF are applicable to all grant types. Many questions found in the PDF form only need to be answered if you are applying for one of the two types of capital grants and do not need to be answered if you are applying for a planning & design grant.

 


Questions

Please see our FAQ page. All interested parties with questions not answered there are encouraged to contact the CRA. 

Contact:           Jason Zogg, Program Manager

E-mail:             ForwardFund@CambridgeRedevelopment.org

Telephone:        617-492-6800 x12


ABOUT THE CAMBRIDGE REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (CRA)

CRA Mission:

The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) is committed to implementing imaginative, creative development that achieves social equity and environmental sustainability. Our goal is to work in the public interest to facilitate infrastructure investments and development projects that integrate commercial, housing, civic and open space uses. We are a public real estate entity with a unique set of redevelopment tools, working in close partnership with the City of Cambridge and other organizations.

CRA Operating Principles:

  1. Act
  2. Operate with transparency
  3. Maximize the public benefit
  4. Operate with fiscal responsibility
  5. Set an example

Learn more about the CRA's mission and history and its 2014 Strategic Plan.


Termination

The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority reserves the right to terminate the distribution of awards if it is determined that the funds are not, without prior notification and approval, being used for the purpose approved through the project application.


[1] For example, due to the required 1:1 match if the ask is $10k, the total project value is expected to be $20,000 and above, if the ask is $7k, the total project value is expected to be $14k and above, etc. In-kind matches such as pro-bono work by an architecture firm for example must have a letter that specifies a statement of value of those in-kind matching services.

[2] If an organization is not a 501c3 it must have an agreement with a 501c3 fiscal sponsor that will act as the fiduciary for the purposes of disbursing CRA funds

[3] If an organization is not a 501c3 it must have an agreement with a 501c3 fiscal sponsor that will act as the fiduciary for the purposes of disbursing CRA funds

[4] Cambridge planning and redevelopment efforts can be found on the Community Development Department website under “Planning & Urban Design,” “Transportation,” “Climate & Energy,” and “Parks & Playgrounds” http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD.aspx