Ask Arizona REALTOR® Party Director Ashley Slechta about Smart Growth and Placemaking grants and she’ll advise you to jump right into the grant-writing process.

“Placemaking is super easy,” she recently told a banquet room full of members from the Western Pinal Association of REALTORS®. “Start with something small to share with the community and then work your way up to making a larger impact with Smart Growth resources.”

Simply put, there are two levels to Placemaking with a maximum micro-grant of $3,000, and three levels to Smart Growth which top out at $15,000. Smart Growth is more involved and often requires input from city governments, neighborhood coalitions and nonprofits.

Level 1 Placemaking Micro-Grants are designed to renew and revitalize existing public places up to $1.5K; two examples would be “streetscaping” (street landscaping) and trail markers. Level 2 Placemaking grants are for creating new, outdoor public spaces — such as a dog park or community garden.

“There’s no deadline to apply for Placemaking grants and each association is allowed two per calendar year,” added Slechta. “But you can only apply for one grant at a time, and must have before-and-after photos of your first completed project before applying for a second grant.”

During a warm up exercise, REALTORS® were paired up and exchanged volunteer stories, then told the group how the other member donated his or her time, talents and treasures.

“Most people don’t want to ‘brag’ about themselves,” Slechta said. “And yet friends, clients and potential customers need to know how you’re giving back to the community. You should be proud to tell them, this is what I did or this is what we’re working on and these grants can help do that.”

In a 2015 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) study by Cone Communications, 80-percent of consumers surveyed said they consider CSR when deciding which products and services to recommend, and 90-percent expect companies to address social and environmental issues.

Several Western Pinal REALTORS® will donate their time on National Tell A Story Day (April 27) by reading books to the Boys & Girls Club of Casa Grande. “Sometimes the smallest gifts give the greatest rewards,” added Slechta.

The REALTOR® Party is a powerful alliance of REALTORS® and REALTOR® Associations working to protect and promote homeownership and property investment. The REALTOR® Party speaks with one voice to advance candidates and public policies that build strong communities and promote a vibrant business environment.

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