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, training, 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 Public Schools’ School Nurses have been granted $380,000 over the next four years to receive training on health issues such as asthma, racial health equity, and new health technologies. This funding will also support the creation of a new position, the Nurse Navigator/Care Coordinator, to work with families, other school staff, and medical providers to develop and implement medical treatment plans for students who have chronic illnesses.

The Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development was awarded $800,000 (two grants) under the State’s Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) Grant Program for renovations to the City’s historic Prospect Hill Park. It was on Prospect Hill that, on January 1, 1776, George Washington ordered the raising of the first true American flag, the Grand Union Flag. The project focuses on improving accessibility, restoring and managing the park's landscape, and preserving and revealing the site’s history.

Shape Up Somerville recently received $5,000 from HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Program to purchase produce for the Somerville Mobile Farmers’ Market. This market brings fresh, local produce to several locations throughout the City that have limited fresh food markets nearby. In addition, patrons that utilize WIC, SNAP, or Senior Farmers’ Market Coupons, or who live in North Street or Mystic Housing, receive a 50% discount on their purchases.

Somerville Auxiliary Fire Department, whose members volunteer their time to provide support services to the Somerville Fire Department, was awarded its first-ever grant this spring in the amount of $4,943. SAFD will use the funds from MEMA’s Citizen Corps Program to purchase much-needed equipment and supplies, including industrial generators, water pumps, and heat-resistant protective gloves for SAFD firefighters.

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: