Sunday, November 9, 2008

Local Grant Giving Needs Overhaul

Feeling a bit guilty this week, do I dare share? The community services commission that I serve on met this week and I feigned an excuse not too attend.
It's a bit of a dysfunctional commission to say the least. Completely without teeth and without any clear leadership. The big goals of this group include community grant dollars doled out to a deserving but small group of non-profits. The current calculation of who receives what and why should and could be a well thought out reward system for hard working non profits to realize goals and offer services. Instead the current consideration of how these funds are divvy ed
up is this: Who received what last year? The kitty is then allocated according to that well thought out rational. Yes, I know what your thinking, why f@#%ing bother!

So If a committee sets an agenda item, holds hours worth of discussions on executing the agenda item, sends out the "applications" for the grants, collects the grant application filled out by over-worked under paid non profit executive directors only to make the same decision? Wait, it gets better...the non profits are then all called to a meeting to plead worthiness and to discuss current programs highlighting the theme of how this grant money will help achieve goals, provide services, enabling them to work the magic they do on an obscenely small budget. The meeting usually lasts an hour and a half, and typically 40 people show up on a Thursday evening at 5:00pm to speak on behalf of pet projects. All are worthy; all are doing important work in the community and greater Santa Clara Valley. But amid the emotional pleas for consideration unbeknown st to the applicants the decision was made long before anyone sat down in the room.

So why the dog and pony show you ask? I would love to give you an answer. I asked of course in my always non-tactful idiot savant way- blunt Midwestern to the point cut to the chase sort of approach only to be told it's always done this way. Oh, okay. Then why are we here? Why offer people a glimmer of fairness when the system is rigged??
Apparently the sub committee met this summer while I was on holiday in Maine. The notes and discussion points of how to improve a non-functioning decision-making process never appeared in the form of minuets so I can only assume the process shall remain the same.

Applications are available to those of you in need of funding, just be aware. If you would like to help watch dog this important process please sit in on the next Community Services Commission meeting in The Neighborhood Center on N. Main st. on the first Thursday of the month 5 p.m. I would join you, but my tenure is up. The commission could be a vital part of the process but needs local input from those willing to question the current commission and it's ineffective mode of operation.

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