Seattle, WA Neighborhood Matching Fund Program
About the Matching Fund
The Neighborhood Matching Fund is a City grant program that provides cash grants to neighborhood and community organizations for a wide variety of neighborhood-based projects. The program was started in response to calls from neighborhood leaders to assist them with neighborhood self-help projects. The program supports:
- Grassroots, neighborhood-based projects across the City of Seattle.
- Grassroots, neighborhood-based organizations or organizations that advocate for the interests of people of color.
- Projects that have a match of volunteer or professional services, donated materials, and/or cash resources.
- Projects which feature high community participation and self-help, wherein the beneficiaries of the proposed project are part of shaping and implementing the project.
- Projects with distinct products, rather than ongoing services.
- Neighborhood improvements, neighborhood planning, neighborhood organizing and public school/neighborhood partnership projects which have a public benefit.
A required component of the program is its match provision. For most projects, the community is required to donate cash, volunteer labor or donated services or materials at least equal in value to the cash provided by the City. The program has been used to build new playgrounds and parks, plant street trees, restore open space and wetlands, create public art, build traffic circles, develop plans for business districts, and much more.
The fund currently provides $3.2 million dollars in the following categories: Large Projects Fund, Small and Simple Projects Fund, Tree Fund, and Neighborhood Outreach and Development Fund (awards of $750 or less) and Small Sparks ($250).
Neighborhood groups don't have to figure out the Neighborhood Matching Fund on their own. In fact, staff members prefer to work with groups at the very start of a project - when ideas are being discussed.
The City of Seattle supplies cash for a neighborhood project and the neighborhood matches the City's contribution with volunteer labor, donated materials, professional services and cash. In its first year, the Neighborhood Matching Fund was budgeted at only a few hundred thousand dollars, but the program proved to be so popular that the annual allocation was quickly increased to $1.5 million and recently the annual allocation for the Neighborhood Matching Fund was increased to $4.1 million. Since the program's inception the neighborhood contribution to Matching Fund projects, counting volunteer labor, professional services, donated materials and cash exceeds the City's contribution by half. The decision to fund, or not fund, a proposed neighborhood project, rests with a panel of citizens representing the 13 districts served by the Neighborhood Service Centres. And, while the Mayor or the City Council could reverse the recommendations of the citizens’ panel, that has not happened in the 12 years since the program started. 1,500 Neighborhood Matching Fund projects have been funded in 12 years. In all, the City has awarded nearly $20 million in public funds to 700 different neighborhood groups to spend as they see fit.. Seattle’s Neighborhood Matching Fund program is generally considered an unqualified success and has been copied in 40 other cities throughout the U.S. and abroad.