The window is open for nonprofit organizations and government agencies to apply for grants to help pay for projects that highlight the history of Richland County, enhance the environment or improve the quality of life for its residents.
The Richland County Conservation Commission (RCCC) will accept applications online at richlandlegacy.com through Feb. 1, 2023, according to Conservation Program Analyst John McKenzie. He explains grants of up to $50,000 are available in the Historic Preservation category – to restore buildings and cemeteries or for educational programs promoting the county’s history. In addition, organizations can receive up to $20,000 in Natural Resource grants for projects such as walking and biking trails, greenway planning, environmental education and improving water quality.
Grant applications are evaluated by the Commission’s Historic Preservation and Natural Resource Committees, then the entire 11-person Commission sends its recommendations to the County Council, which makes its final decision, part of the County’s budget approval process, sometime before the new fiscal year begins on July 1. The process also includes an applicant presentation to the Commission and applicants also get a chance to ask questions and better understand the process.
The RCCC has $250,000 to distribute to local organizations and McKenzie says the Commission usually receives at least $400,000 in grant requests and that number has been as high as $800,000. A 20% match is required from all organizations approved to receive the grants.
Applications not received by the deadline will not be accepted for review. If you have questions regarding your application, please ask.
“We’re here to work with everybody. We serve the County,” McKenzie says.
The Richland County Conservation Commission provided financial help for several local organizations last year, including:
• The Blythewood Historical Society and Museum renovated the Langford-Nord House at Main and McNulty streets. Built in 1904, the home eventually became a commercial building. The grant helped bring back the building’s residential appearance.
• A grant helped put a new roof on the Town Theatre in Columbia, the oldest community theater building in continuous use in the United States. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was built in 1924. “A solid roof is crucial to the protection of our historic structures,” McKenzie says.
• The Commission provided financial assistance for Camp Discovery, whose mission is “to engage and inspire through discovery in science and nature.” Located on 116 acres in Blythewood, the camp offers a hands-on learning environment that has reached more than 15,000 youngsters since its inception in 1985.
• Friends of Harbison State Forest in Columbia benefited from a Conservation Commission grant. McKenzie points out that the group makes sure the trails are in good shape and accessible. He says last year, the group worked with volunteers and Eagle Scouts to replace several old bridges in the forest, which is among the largest green spaces within a city’s limits east of the Mississippi River. McKenzie calls the forest “a gem for our community.”
The deadline to apply for a grant from the Richland County Conservation Commission is Feb. 1, 2023. For more information, visit richlandlegacy.com or contact John McKenzie at 803-576-2083 or firstname.lastname@example.org.