$1.43 million in grants
Grant writer works for city, schools, chamber
By Robert Cloud
Since jointly hiring Greg Grohman as a full-time grant writer on Sept. 1, 2020, the city of Waupaca, the Waupaca School District and the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce have been awarded a total of $1.43 million in grants.
“When we started, we didn’t know where this would go,” District Administrator Ron Saari said. “What he has accomplished has far exceeded our expectations.”
Thanks to Grohman’s efforts, the city of Waupaca received nearly $1.15 million from the Community Development Block Grant to provide housing and utility relief to low- and moderate-income households impacted by COVID-19.
The city also received a $118,000 Community Development Investment Grant for downtown development; an Alzheimer’s and Healthy Aging grant for a Rock Steady Boxing program; a $7,500 Bright Idea Fund grant to support hotspot learning at the Waupaca Area Public Library; a $7,300 grant from the Waupaca Greenways Commission for trail rehabilitation; and a $1,000 Small Dollar, Big Impact grant to help buy an aeroponic gardening system for the senior center.
The chamber was awarded a $78,659 Wisconsin Travel Stimulus Grant to promote tourism.
It also received a $1,000 grant from Parfreyville United Methodist Church to support the Pitch, a program during which students form businesses, develop new products and learn about finance, marketing and communications.
The Waupaca School District was awarded a $48,000 Basic Needs Partnership grant to implement a teletherapy program.
Other grants include a total of $10,000 from Community First Credit Union and the Rotary Club to support Downtown Placemakers, a group that raises funds for improvements to accompany the city’s Main Street reconstruction efforts.
“We have a very strong return on investment,” Saari said, noting that the Waupaca area collaborative grant-writing effort is the only one of its type in Wisconsin.
“It’s very unique because there’s nowhere with two partners, let alone three,” according to City Administrator Aaron Jenson.
Saari said the villages of Howard and Suamico and the school district there are currently looking at Waupaca as a model of collaborative grant writing.
Jenson said the grants allow the city to spend money on quality of life projects that help bring in new residents and new business, noting that there is a “symbiotic relationship between quality of life and economic development.”
Saari said all three institutions – the city, the school district and the chamber – are working together to increase enrollment at the schools, grow the tax base in the city and provide opportunities for local businesses.
The additional grant money helps them meet these goals.
Grohman has also applied for more than $1 million in grants for other area projects.
Pending projects include $7,500 for a narcotics analyzer for police; $30,000 from the state Department of Natural Resources for trail work at Swan Park; $650,000 from the DNR for a splash pad at Swan Park; $150,000 from the state Department of Public Instruction to fund staff training and a mental health navigator position at the schools; $30,000 from the DPI to provide transportation options to homeless students; $98,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support the Waupaca Farmers Market; $7,500 from the Waupaca Area Community Foundation to help support Inspire Waupaca, which develops relationships between students, teachers and potential employees; and $7,500 from the community foundation to build a website encouraging people to relocate to Waupaca.
Among his goals, Grohman said he hopes to apply to more federal agencies, as well as reaching out to corporate partners.
Jenson said the most impressive thing about Grohman’s performance has been his initiative.
“He’s not just a good grant writer, Greg does a fantastic job at finding opportunities and acting on them,” Jenson said.
Chamber President Terri Schulz said Grohman goes beyond writing grants to becoming involved in researching and developing the projects, designing postcards and drafting fundraising letters.
Grohman said he appreciates that the people he is working with trust him to steer the projects forward.
All four members of the grant-writing team – Schulz, Saari, Jenson and Grohman – said they appreciated Tim and Joy Neuville’s decision to fund the position for its first year.
Neuville suggested the idea of a jointly funded grant-writing position to the three organizations after his experience with the Waupaca Area Community Foundation.
“Several years ago, we had almost $40,000 available to distribute that was not awarded due to a lack of substantive grant requests,” Neuville told the Waupaca County Post last year. “This led me to research other communities to see the type of grant requests they were receiving. I noticed that similar communities sometimes had more requests than ours and that they were receiving monies from other foundations and organizations in our state that seemed to never be awarding grants to the Waupaca area.”
“Tim and Joy Neuville’s contribution made it happen,” Jenson said.