This June, as you are standing online to get a beer at the Community Festival (aka ComFest), please consider this: Everytime you fill that giant plastic mug, you are helping us build a better community.
I know it seems a bit backwards – beer is not exactly the symbol of health and prosperity – but beer sells and is the ComFest’s single greatest source of revenue. Most of those proceeds go to pay our bills–cops and city permits, sound engineers, electricians, and other rental fees – but, since 2006, a nice chunk of change has been set aside each year for the Community Festival Grants Endowment. From that fund, we provide grants to non-profit organizations around town. Since 2006, we’ve given away $72,050. This year alone, we distributed $17,000 to groups including Columbus Green Building Forum, Center for Vocational Alternatives, and the University Area Enrichment Association. (You can find a complete list of our grant recipients from 2005 through 2012 on our website.)
2012 is a big year for ComFest. It’s been 40 years since a bunch of radical Columbus citizens convened at 16th & Waldeck Avenues in the University District for the first Community Festival (May 11 & 12, 1972). They were promoting a grassroots, homegrown revolution embodied by community organizations working for some things we take advantage of today – recycling programs, access to natural foods, and independent media sources – and others we are still fighting for – access to legal aid, health care, and quality education for all. They were the forerunners of the local empowerment movement that is so strong in our city today, a movement supported by the Community Festival Grants Program.
A look at the groups supported by Community Festival grants over the past eight years shows just how tightly we are aligned with many of the organizations that help make this city a great, progessive place to live. Third Hand Bicycle Cooperative has received ComFest grants to outfit their shop with tools so they can train more people to build and maintain their own two wheels. The Clintonville Community Market asked for help with their new checkout equipment to help keep better track of their inventory and serve their customers better. WCBE and WCRS have each relied on Community Festival help in getting news and music to their listeners. The midwives at the Center for Humane Options in Childbirth (CHOICE) have purchased new educational equipment and a birthing tub with our help. (You might know a baby born in that bath…)
In the past, we restricted our grants to special projects. However, over the past few years we noticed a decline in the number of applications we were receiving. We figured this was a result of the economic downturn and the fact that many small non-profit groups were struggling to keep their doors open. In an effort to help those groups, we expanded the types of grants we would award to include some operating expenses like insurance and space rental for the Girlz Rhythym N Rock Camp.
I could go on, but I don’t have enough space to write about all the amazing projects we’ve been proud to support over the past few years. Instead, once you’ve filled your mug, take a walk down the street fair and look for our grant recipients’ booths. They’ll be marked with a special sign. Ask them about the work they do and how ComFest has helped them do it bigger and better. You just might learn about something that can help you along your way.
Postscript: ComFest is a volunteer organized and operated event. When you volunteer to help us out, you are supporting our Grants program. If you haven’t done so already, please visit comfest.com to help us out this year. If you’ve never volunteered with us before, you’ll be amazed by how great it feels to put on your volunteer t-shirt and be part of the process. Our greatest areas of need are with Clean-Up & Recycling and Safety. In return for your four hours of work, we’ll give you a t-shirt and four tokens for food and drinks. Questions? Feel free to contact me at email@example.com.