Community Building Mini-Grants Program


For nearly 30 years, United Way’s Community Building Mini-Grants Program has promoted civic involvement at the grassroots level. By providing grants up to $2,500, the Min-Grants Program enables groups to build a stronger community through small projects with big impacts. The program promotes civic engagement while addressing needs and issues in the community that  are aligned with United Way’s priority areas of health, education, financial stability, and basic needs.

Grantees are also offered networking opportunities to seek other like-minded groups and individuals with which to collaborate and increase their impact.

Since its inception in 1995, 825 projects have been completed in Greater New Bedford.

Grant Criteria

To be eligible for Mini-Grant funding, groups and organizations must:

  • Be all-volunteer with an established membership
  • Have an annual budget/income of  $40,000 or less
  • Offer projects that are specific, small in scale and with a realistic plan to improve our local community
  • Complete their projects within 1 year of the funding announcement
  • Align with the United Way’s priority area’s of health, education, financial stability, and basic needs
  • Be based in New Bedford, Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Freetown, Mattapoisett, Marion, Rochester, or Wareham

The next funding cycle will begin in early 2022. Watch this site for the dates of the next application period. All funds are disbursed on a reimbursement only basis.  Legal incorporation 501(c)(3) is NOT required.

Current Grantees

This past year, $30,000 was awarded to 17 groups to complete projects addressing the needs of the homeless, encouraging healthy lifestyles with community gardens, providing accessibility for all, promoting reading to young children, and more.

The following groups were awarded funding this year:

Program Name: Summer Internship for Contributors
Award Amount: $2,400

Residents of the Southcoast are accessing BuyBlackNB - a free and public directory of local Black-owned businesses. Summer interns will complete a number of press releases and business articles to highlight the many Black-owned businesses in our community.

Learn More

Program Name: Hope For Your Heart
Award Amount: $2,500

This project will engage New Bedford's homeless population through the provision of a warm meal on Saturday mornings, which will be purchased from Celia's Restaurant. Clothing and toiletries collected through donations will also be available to participants on an as needed basis. Bilingual volunteers will be available to provide resource referrals to individuals as needed so they are able to access the services they need in a timely manner. Resources will be identified through partnerships that have been developed across city sectors, including non-profit agencies, New Bedford Public Schools, New Bedford Health Department, and New Bedford Police Department.


Program Name: Zen Dens to Go
Award Amount: $500

Zen Dens are rooms or areas designated for maximum calm. When students need a break from the stresses of the day, they can come to the welcoming confines of the Zen Den. The Zen Den is a calming area outfitted with posters of different breathing techniques, information on conflict resolution and objects to manipulate like putty. Zen Dens just put normalcy on needing a break. Having a safe, private spot where students can come is teaching them how to take care of themselves. The Zen Den provides the tools to students so they can self-regulate their emotions. These safe spaces are for students who act out in class or have trouble controlling their emotions. They can go into a space that makes them feel in control, calm, meditative and unplugged! Home versions of a Zen Den kits provide families a moment to breathe, rejuvenate and calm their children.

Program Name: DPAW Community Outreach PAWjects
Award Amount: $2,085

The PAWsibilities are endless! Creating opportunities for art projects, comfort canine visits, and more - DPAW is actively engaged in many aspects of the community and connecting the residents with furry friends to help with communication, cognitive/memory, social/emotional & sensory challenges.

Program Name: Ricketson Nature Trail Boardwalks
Award Amount: $2,496

The project is to install approximately 500 feet of boardwalk on portions of the Brooklawn Park Ricketson Nature Trails that are subject to flooding during periods of heavy precipitation. An 8 foot bridge would also be installed over a culvert on the wet meadow trail loop. The trails provide a unique natural and woodland experience in an urban setting that is highly accessible to the general public. With expanded trail access the Friends of Brooklawn Park will then work with Groundwork Southcoast to expand a new initiative called Adventue Walk which will add multi-lingual instructional QR (Quick Response code) signage throughout the park providing environmental and historical information.

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Program Name: Help Veterans Obtain Benefits
Award Amount: $2,500

Friends of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) assists veterans fill out and submit the paperwork needed to receive benefits. DAV also also works with veterans to find additional local services.


Program Name: The Garden at Sister Rose Shelter
Award Amount: $1,450

The Garden at Sister Rose Shelter grows hundreds of lbs of fresh priduce each year for guests, residents, and neighbors of the Shelter. Volunteers, neighbors, residents, staff, and community partners work together to grow and provide healthy produce to those in need in the New Bedford community.

Program Name: Grow Greater New Bedford
Award Amount: $2,500

Grow Greater New Bedford installs raised or elevated gardens for the residents of Greater New Bedford and educate those residents on the benefits of fresh produce and how to grow them in their own back yard. This will reduce the trips to the grocery store which is important during the pandemic.

Program Name: Hayden McFadden Garden Redevelopment
Award Amount: $2,500

The Hayden McFadden Garden Club provides experiental, hands-on activities, for students, families, and community members, at the Hayden McFadden Elementary School. This year, they are working with the Marion Institute's Grow Education Program to provide support to teachers, educational programming for students and families, and the redevelopment of our garden beds and outside learning space. At this time, our Garden Club oversees the planting and care of ten garden beds.

Program Name: Community Gardens Fertilizer Supply Shed
Award Amount: $2,000

Helfand Farm Community Gardens is an all-volunteer nonprofit, renting garden plots to residents of any town. Located on 3 acres of USDA prime farmland, provided by the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust, they are the largest community gardens in the Greater New Bedford area. Additionally, they donate thousands of pounds of organically-grown vegetables to local soup kitchens and food pantries each year.

Learn More

Program Name: COVID sanitary packs for homeless
Award Amount: $2,500

NB Strong will provide sanitary items, masks, household items and laminated street sheets (combined in individual backpacks) to homeless population in Greater New Bedford area.

Learn More

Program Name: OSS Community Garden Giveaway
Award Amount: $1,465

This project addresses food security issues in the community by providing students, staff, and community members assistance in building their own connections to food production and the land. In 2021-2022 they plan to put together a "Friends and Family" style giveaway where students could invite a neighbor or a friend of the family to receive the materials they need to start their own garden space.

Program Name: Read To Me Wareham
Award Amount: $1,300

The Read To Me Wareham Program combines adult volunteerism and the love of books to create rich read aloud experiences for Head Start preschoolers. Their goal is to build vocabulary through quality childrens books and experiences.

Program Name: Rochester Affordable Housing
Award Amount: $2,085

Rochester Affordable Housing seeks to increase awareness and build support for the current need for for affordable housing, primarily for seniors and veterans.

Program Name: Lights Brigade of MassBike and South Coast Bikeway Alliance (SCBA)
Award Amount: $1,000

In collaboration with MassBike and local agencies like New Bedford Mass in Motion, New Bedford Community Economic Development Center (CEDC) and the Immigrants' Assistance center, good quality front and rear lights will be installed on the bikes of commuters who can use this essential safety equipment because -of necessity- they ride in low visibility conditions. During the installation other information about safety and bike repair will be shared.

Program Name: Hopeful Haircuts
Award Amount: $196

The main goal of this project is to help homeless and low income residents look good and feel good with a new, cleanly appearance. It's vital to present yourself appropriately at various events including job and other financial opportunities. Looking good also can benefit the mental health of individuals.

Program Name: Zane's Ramps
Award Amount: $523

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed into law 30 years ago, however, plenty of local businesses are still not handicap accessible because the law states that architectural barriers must be removed when "readily achievable." For many people, outings with friends and family must be changed or cancelled due to the inability to physically enter a building. Zane's Ramps is collecting Legos to build customized wheelchair ramps for local homes and businesses. The gradual slope of these designs benefits people in wheelchairs, plus those with mobility issues and parents/caregivers pushing strollers.

If you are a current grantee needing to submit for reimbursement, you can submit reimbursement forms through the CommunityForce portal at


For more information about the Community Building Mini-Grants Program, please contact Victoria Grasela at 508-994-9625, ext. 210 or