Could your neighborhood use a new sign or a bench? The Hillsborough County office of Neighborhood Relations recently opened its application period for mini-grants which will award $96,000 to groups throughout the county with the goal of improving and strengthening neighborhoods.

According to the Neighborhood Relations Office, groups have recently sought money for duck and bat houses, a butterfly garden and a rack for storing residents’ kayaks, among other requests. Valrico’s River Hills community spent it’s grant money from 2016 on bird houses for the Purple Martin Swallow and a nesting platform for Ospreys. However, Neighborhood Relations Office states that the grants are not just for physical enhancements, the program’s goal is to bring neighbors together and bolster community pride.

Grants will be awarded for up to $2,500, but groups that apply must be pre-registered with the office of neighborhood relations and applicants must take a mandatory online orientation, which is offered twice a month, before applying. The program began in 1988 and funds are allocated to it by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners.

“We urge neighborhood leaders to think creatively when brainstorming about projects and types of community involvement,” said a Neighborhood Relations press release, which also explained that applications are evaluated by a committee which uses questions to rank each request.

Applications for grants to fund food or drinks, infrastructure projects, cameras or electronics and those that can be funded through another source, are not considered for mini-grants. However, grants are frequently given to help host community events, establish neighborhood watch programs and train neighborhood leaders to be more effective.

The deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. on Friday, August 4. For more information, call 272-5860 or visit

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Kate Quesada is the Multimedia Manager for the Osprey Observer Newspapers. She has been working for the paper in various positions since 2005 when she graduated with her Masters degree in mass communications. She lives in Valrico with her husband Mike and son Dylan.