SOLANA BEACH — With slightly modified criteria for the 2010-2011 Community Grant Program, the city received about half as many applications, but council members didn’t expect that to make the selection process any easier.
Representatives from 11 groups seeking a combined total of $50,200 had three minutes each at the Nov. 17 meeting to explain how their group would use the money.
Councilwoman Lesa Heebner asked them to address how they planned to serve groups or individuals with special economic needs not being met in the current economic environment, an added stipulation in this year’s criteria.
Heebner said listening to the presentations “is always the fun part.”
“We get to hear about all these wonderful programs,” she said. “The difficult, nonenviable part is Dec. 8, when we have to winnow that down.”
All but three of the groups seeking funding — Rancho Coastal Humane Society, Reality Changer and the Solana Beach Foundation for Learning — submitted applications last year.
Five of those — the Solana Beach Little League, Community Resource Center, Kids Korps USA, North Coast Repertory Theatre and the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito — received funding.
Girls on the Run, a nationwide program that fosters healthy lifestyle choices, positive body images and self-esteem for girls between the ages of 8 and 12, was once again seeking scholarship money for its Solana Beach chapter.
Three organizations requested funding for programs that target underserved youngsters in Eden Gardens. The Boys & Girls Clubs would use the grant money to once again offer free summer swimming lessons, something parents requested last year, to 30 children from that community.
The Egoscue Foundation plans to donate obstacle course equipment to La Colonia Community Center but needs money to pay an instructor for the pilot program.
Kids Korps was seeking funding to continue its hands-on summer volunteer camps, a program it started for Eden Garden children and teenagers five years ago with help from the city.
Last year’s camp had a “green” theme. The mostly Spanish-speaking participants visited agencies such as the Audubon Society and San Diego Wildlife Institute. Working with the Surfrider Foundation and San Diego Coastkeeper, they learned what happens when they litter after picking up trash at Fletcher Cove and in their neighborhood.
The Community Resource Center requested money to purchase food for its annual Holiday Baskets program at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
Sun Choi, from Project Turnaround, said lack of city funding last year put that organization in a “financially difficult situation.” She said the group, which serves developmentally challenged adults, currently has $334 in its budget.
Councilman Dave Roberts read a statement from Reality Changers, whose representative had to leave the meeting early. That organization provides training to help at-risk youth apply to college. One recent program participant highlighted in the letter spent nearly a decade homeless but maintained a B average in school and is working as an intern.
The Foundation for Learning was asking for funding for an instructional coach to implement the new language arts curriculum. Bill Banning, Solana Beach School District assistant superintendent of administrative services, said the grant money will be helpful given that students in the district speak 31 languages and close to 15 percent are learning English as a second language.
North Coast Rep sought funding that will allow disadvantaged youth to attend the theater, and Solana Beach Little League was asking for money to help replace a kid-pitch infield with either grass or artificial turf.
Marshall Weinreb said Rancho Coastal Humane Society submitted an application because the organization is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
He said the money would be used for the Humane Education Literacy Program, which teaches children how to treat animals and be aware of people who are mistreating them.
“It’s a huge problem we have on our streets today,” Weinreb said. He showed council members handmade thank you cards from students at Skyline Elementary, where the group recently made a presentation
“Thank you for bringing your dogs to our school,” one child wrote. “It’s interesting to learn how dogs can help people in so many ways.”
Weinreb acknowledged the competition for funds was stiff
“You’ve got a tough road,” he said. “I looked at all the other applicants. It’s hard to turn anybody down.”
At the Dec. 8 meeting, council members will announce the grant recipients and decide how much money will be allocated.
Coast Waste Management and EDCO Waste and Recycling Services, the city’s two waste haulers, each contribute $5,000 to the program. In the past, the city provided another $15,000 from the general fund.
Because the city declared a fiscal emergency, that amount was reduced to $12,500 this year. The $10,000 from the waste haulers must be granted, but council members have not yet decided whether the city will contribute to the program this year.