Berklee Expected To Open Up Applications for Neighborhood Improvement Grants Next Month

Berklee College of Music is expected to start accepting applications for its Berklee Neighborhood Improvement Grant program sometime in July, according to school officials, but whether the pilot will extend past its initial two-year time commitment remains to be seen.

​Kaitlin Passafaro, Berklee’s Chief of Staff and vice president of community and government relations, told those on hand for the June 26 virtual meeting of the Fenway NIC (Neighborhood Improvement Committee) the pilot had been launched as part of mitigation for the two-year extension to the college’s Institution Master Plan (IMP), which included only one project – the renovation and conversion of an existing four-story building at 12 Hemenway St. into student housing.

The program will run for the two-year length of the IMP extension and offer grants, totaling $50,000, to nonprofit organizations located in or serving the Fenway neighborhood. To qualify for a grant, all applicants must offer programming that is both publicly accessible and free, and that also provides a public benefit or serves a public need.

​“We’re eager to get this out the door…and to support projects and initiatives that contribute to the vibrancy of this neighborhood,” said Passafaro.

​Berklee will attempt to gauge whether the program is a “good fit” and “to see what works” before filing its next IMP next year, said Passafaro, who added that the future of the program beyond the initial two-year commitment is now uncertain.

​On the status of the 12 Hemenway St., Passafaro said the project is expected to wrap up the early fall, yielding 116 additional student beds for Berklee in time for the new semester.

​Windows are now being installed in the building, said Erin McCabe, the college’s vice president of facilities, while the elevator is slated to be installed in the next few weeks, along with a new HVAC system.

​Walls are being closed on some floors, she said, as work wraps up on the upper floors.

​In another matter, Berklee Art Windows – a collaborative effort between Berklee’s Office of Community and Government Relations and the Fenway Civic Association that aims to enliven the shared public realm through art installations at college-owned properties – is now seeking Fenway visual artists, including photographers and painters, for future installations, said Abria Smith, associate director of community engagement for Berklee.

The first exhibit in the series, “Hidden Fenway,” featured photos of the neighborhood by longtime Fenway community activist and resident Steve Harnish and was on display at 169-171 Massachusetts Ave.

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