GCF Awards Six Grants

GCF Awards Six Grants  Full Article By Matt Arbach

The Greenbelt Community Foundation (GCF) has awarded grants to six organizations serving the Greenbelt community. These organizations are implementing exciting new programs designed to empower and enrich Greenbelt residents of all ages.  Check them out:

Alight Dance Theater   Playing with Words “Playing 115:” is a new project devised by Alight Dance Theater.  The finale of the project will be a performance at the Greenbelt Arts Center as an Artful Afternoon showcase.This will be the culmination of seven workshops, in partnership with the Greenbelt Recreation Department, designed to engage participants of all ages. The project’s focus is to use a “creative process to make new stories from existing stories, through both words and movement,” according to Matina Phillips, Artistic Director. Alight Dance Theater mission is to create“ performance events that celebrate the power of story…blending dance, physical theater and spoken word.”

The Better Place, Inc.  has created the Project Tutor: Guardians of Greenbelt initiative to further its goals of spreading “self-control and self-determination principles” to “youth, schools and families,” leading to a community strong in “productivity, effectiveness, success and prosperity,” says CEO, Cortland Jones.  The group began its work at Greenbelt Middle School but looks to expand to the rest of Prince George’s County, if not farther.  The project will “train students, 6th-12th grade, to be tutors to K-5th grade students at Springhill Lake Elementary School.” The eventual goal is for the participants to become true “guardians of their community.”

Center for Dynamic Community Governance  is maximizing volunteer program effectiveness, particularly in a situation where there is paid and volunteer staff, is the focus of the Center for Dynamic Community Governance funded project. CDCG’s goal is to use one organization to develop a program that can be replicated by other Greenbelt organizations. Due to the Old Greenbelt Theater’s (OGT) developing role as a gathering point for the East, West and Center Greenbelt Community, CDCG chose it as a staging ground for this project.  They look to create a process that ensures volunteer voices are heard; creates conditions for exciting teamwork; develops a committed base and create strong working relationships between volunteers, staff and the board. CDCG will facilitate regular meetings of volunteers and OGT staff to determine or modify policies for their assignments and, using a process of consent based decision making, will elect fellow volunteers for special tasks and responsibilities.“We are looking to create a blueprint at OGT for their volunteer program that can be adapted for use in other community based organizations throughout Greenbelt.” Says Aileen Kroll, CDCG board member.

Eleanor Roosevelt High School Band Program is creating a music library to properly organize, access and protect the scores used by its four concert bands and smaller, specialized groups.  Specifically, they look to purchase seven storage units that hold 250 pieces of music each.  This will also “maximize space” allowing “room for smaller ensembles to rehearse” and increasing “the ability to host guest performers,” says Rachel Zephir, band teacher. The ERHS band performs at many Greenbelt events like the Festival of Lights Arts and Crafts Fair and even commemorated the opening of the new Greenbelt Music and Arts.

The GEMZ, Inc  focuses on young women between 11 and 18 and looks to “help build self esteem and self-confidence” as well as inspire “the spirit of excellence,” says Adeola Ariyo, Executive Director.  Through outreach to area schools, churches and organizations and through print and media marketing, The GCF grant award is to help The GEMZ increase enrollment, provide subsidized membership fee for Greenbelt residents and five enrollment scholarships based on need, and “attract an increase in volunteers from the Greenbelt community.”  For the past four years, The GEMZ has achieved 100% college enrollment and was invited to the White House in October 2016, among other accomplishments.


Greenbelt Arts Center (GAC) project “will install a fully code-compliant theatrical lighting and power system which will provide a safer environment for the audience, actors and crews,” says Winard Britt, Treasurer.  Four new power packs will be moved to the rear of the theater.  100 ceiling outlets will be installed.  The entire system will be run through a new lighting panel, “allowing needed flexibility in the use of the outlets.” GAC’s mission “is to provide a dedicated and sustainable entertainment and educational hub for fine and performing arts” in the greater Greenbelt area with an ingoing goal “to continue improving the quality of our productions,” sustain strong community connections, and develop a strong and “local stable of production and technical staff.”