About Grants Development

Grants Development helps City departments find and apply for federal, state, corporate, and private grants. These grants provide financial and technical support for a broad range of municipal projects, programs, and initiatives, both new and existing.

The Grants Development office works closely with City departments to develop, prepare, and submit grant proposals. Staff members provide a variety of services to municipal departments, including general oversight of the application process, project analysis, grant writing, editing, budget development, and creation of supporting materials and documents. Secured funding supports ongoing work as well as innovative and cutting-edge activities, and helps to reduce the City’s reliance on tax dollars to support its programs and services.

In addition to assisting with application prep and submission, Grants Development monitors the national, state, and local funding landscape for potential grant opportunities, informs City departments about appropriate opportunities and assesses grants that departments have identified on their own, and manages an archive of the City’s funding history.

This department’s sole purpose is to support Somerville’s municipal government and its activities; it is not equipped to work with individual residents or businesses. If you are an individual or business owner looking for financial or technical assistance, check out the resources below.

  • Applying for a Grant

  • Recently Awarded Grants

  • Resources for Residents & Businesses

Applying for grants in the City of Somerville is a collaborative process. No single individual or department makes the decision to apply for a grant—it is always a team approach with many parties helping to determine whether pursuing a grant is in the best interest of the City and its constituents. The grants that the City of Somerville does apply for generally work toward the following goals:

  • Improving public safety for residents by helping the Police and Fire departments secure funding for supplies, equipment, trainings, and other needs;
  • Ensuring the continuation and/or expansion of human and social services provided by the Health and Human Services Department and all of its divisions, including the Council on Aging, Shape Up Somerville, Office of Prevention, and more;
  • Addressing concerns about the physical environment in our densely-packed community, through projects that range from park and playground renovations, to new energy reduction and clean air initiatives;
  • Supporting new and existing artistic and culturally-relevant programming offered by the Somerville Arts Council, Somerville Public Libraries, and other City departments.

The Grants Development Office and the appropriate City department are generally the first ones to assess a potential grant opportunity, with oversight from the Mayor’s Office and Finance Director. The Grants staff relies on their professional experience and knowledge of the City’s past grant applications and awards to determine if the City of Somerville is a viable candidate and how competitive the application process will be. They also use ongoing intra-departmental communication to determine if the grant lines up with the City’s and Mayor’s future plans. Department managers and their staff may consider grant opportunities from a different vantage point by asking: “Does this align with our departmental goals, current initiatives, and future plans?”

Once the comprehensive assessment is complete and the decision has been made to apply for funding, Grants Development works closely with the appropriate department to develop a work plan and establish a timeline for the application process to ensure that the City submits a competitive and complete proposal by the deadline. Grants Development coordinates meetings with the department liaison or project lead to hash out the fine details of their project and then drafts various elements of the proposal, including the narrative, project budget, and letters of support, with the department’s input and guidance.

After a proposal is submitted to the grantor, it’s simply a waiting game until the grantor announces the awards—this waiting period can vary from a few weeks to almost a year. If the grantor informs Grants Development and the City department that the City has been awarded a grant, the next steps include executing a contract or grant agreement and preparing any additional required documentation. One essential step in the award acceptance process is a Board of Aldermen vote; according to Massachusetts General Law, the Board of Aldermen must vote to accept the grant award and provide authority to expend grant funds.

If the City is not awarded a grant, Grants Development and the City department can meet to discuss why this happened, and may contact the funder to obtain more information. This process can inform any future discussions about whether to apply for the same grant at another time.

Somerville Fire Department was awarded $44,435 by MEMA for the purchase of a John Deere Gator and two ‘fitments.’ With the fitments, SFD can tailor the vehicle to the event or activity where it is being used – the Gator can serve as both an emergency medical response vehicle at road races and festivals, and as a fire-fighting apparatus along the waterfront at events like Riverfest.

Somerville Arts Council received $15,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts. This funding will be used to commission original art at the ARTFarm site at 10 Poplar Street, creating a visually stunning and welcoming entrance for visitors.

Shape Up Somerville was the recipient of a $5,000 Farm and Community Garden Grant from Project Bread to use as seed money for the Somerville Mobile Market, allowing staff to make the initial produce purchase to stock the summer market.

OSPCD's Parks and Open Spaces Division was awarded a $400,000 Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) Grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to help fund renovation costs at Hoyt Sullivan Playground.

The City of Somerville Grants Development office works with other City departments to prepare and submit grants to fund municipal programs, projects, and initiatives. The Grants office is not equipped to work with individual residents or business owners to secure funding for their own needs and purposes. The following are suggested resources for residents who are looking for project funding, housing assistance, or business development support: