OSWEGO – The Oswego Renaissance Association has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Richard S. Shineman Foundation for its neighborhood revitalization work in 2018.
This is the largest single grant ever awarded to the ORA, now entering its fifth year of operations.
The Oswego Renaissance Association is a neighborhood revitalization organization that has leveraged more than $2 million in private investments in four targeted neighborhoods throughout the city of Oswego over the past four years.
The Shineman Foundation, whose byline is “A Catalyst for Change” has described the ORA initiative as an excellent example of a catalyst for change and credits the ORA as the spark that started a new way of approaching revitalization in the city of Oswego and beyond.
Paul Stewart, Ph.D., founder and Director of the ORA said, “We are absolutely humbled by this clear vote of confidence in our approach to building assets in Oswego. This will permit us to expand the revitalization footprints in the neighborhoods – building off our existing results. In 2018, we plan to make some bolder moves than prior years.”
According to Karen Goetz, executive director of the Richard S. Shineman Foundation, “Our board of directors has been so impressed with the neighborhood transformation taking place in Oswego. We are thrilled to be able to assist the ORA with this grant in recognition of its fifth year of being a true catalyst for positive change in our city.”
The ORA, along with the Shineman Foundation, Pathfinder Bank, SUNY Oswego and other strategic partners, is operating a strategic, multi-year program for revitalizing the city of Oswego’s neighborhoods.
This program is guided by a market-based revitalization plan for the city of Oswego, which was first funded by the Shineman Foundation in 2013.
In the ORA’s first year, it began a partnership with 12 separate neighborhood streets, which has now expanded to more than 50.
The ORA’s unique “bottom-up” revitalization approach involves matching grants and resources to neighborhood groups of 5-15 neighborhood houses each. The neighbors themselves lead the efforts and chart the course of their neighborhoods.
“When neighbors chart of the course of their neighborhoods, when they invest as a group, some remarkable change can occur,” said Stewart. “In the first few years, we could clearly see that neighborhoods were changing in a very positive way. But more recently, we are starting to see the fruit of this work. There have been significant numbers of new families buying older, rundown houses and rehabbing them for single-family homes; many to an exceptionally high standard. It’s all about momentum now.”
Stewart also said that as they enter year five, the strategy continues to evolve.
“We continue to expand into new blocks and recruit new neighborhood groups, at a pace of about 12-15 per year. At the same time, we have begun partnering with small developers to rehab and resell whole houses in some of our more established Renaissance Blocks. The market supports this in blocks where it would not have been nearly as possible just five years ago,” he explained.
The success of the approach, according to Stewart, extends well beyond housing improvements.
“Everything we do is based on an asset-building approach. It’s about growing value, it’s about investing in what works. This philosophy has spread throughout the city of Oswego. It is one shared by our mayor, shared by local institutions like SUNY Oswego, Pathfinder Bank and many more,” he said. “Our alignments get stronger every year. We would love for more partners to join us.”
For additional information about the ORA, visit www.OswegoNYonline.com or follow the ORA on Facebook.
The ORA can also be reached by email at [email protected]