Two local organizations receive grants to fund beach-based programs

The non-profit organization Save the Harbor / Save the Bay awarded Winthrop Parks and Recreation and Friends of Bell Isle Marsh grants of $2,500 and $2,000 respectively to support beach events this summer.

At a press conference on the Boston Fish Pier on Saturday, June 12, the non-profit organization Save the Harbor / Save the Bay awarded $30,500 in grants to 11 groups to support 35 free public events in nine Boston Harbor region beachfront communities from Nahant to Nantasket.

In addition, Save the Harbor announced that in the fall they will introduce the “Best of the Beaches” awards of up to $2,000 to organizations that deliver outstanding events on our region’s public beaches in Lynn, Nahant, Revere, Winthrop, East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy and Hull this summer.

This year’s “Better Beaches” events will include beachfront concert series, kite festivals, sand sculpting competitions, beachside art shows, environmental education programs, family fun nights and reading programs, volleyball tournaments and several beach festivals.

The program is made possible by a $25,000 grant from the Boston Foundation, $25,000 of in-kind support from the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), and the financial support of Save the Harbor’s corporate partners at National Grid, Comcast Massachusetts, and JetBlue Airways.

“There is so much we can do to make environmental initiatives a priority,” said Ronda Ivy-McLeod, manager of regional marketing for JetBlue Airways. “We are taking action by supporting Save the Harbor / Save the Bay and their local partners, and invite the community to join us. Every one of us, whether an individual or a corporation, one contribution at a time, can do much to help protect our environment and strengthen our communities.”

In addition to the grants, local Friends groups will raise an additional $160,000 in direct and in-kind support for their events and capacity-building initiatives, resulting in a total investment of more than $190,000 in free events and activities on the region’s public beaches.

“From the start of the Boston Harbor Clean-up it was clear that Boston’s restored harbor and renewed waterfront would be an economic engine as well as a major community resource,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation, an early founder of Save the Harbor / Save the Bay. “That vision has been born out by the success of organizations and business in communities across the region that have drawn thousands of local residents to these clean and accessible public beaches.”

The grant will enable Winthrop Parks and Recreation to fund their annual Sand Castle Day at Yirrell Beach. They will expand their summer activities by holding a Beach Party that will include games, food, and a sandcastle competition for children, and Winthrop’s own youth band: “Jam Band.”

The grant will also allow the Friends of Belle Isle Marsh, in partnership with the Friends of Winthrop Beach and Winthrop Art Association, to host a series of events entitled “The Sea, the Shore, the Sky.” This program will encompass many exciting events including Tide Pool Exploration, the Night Sky, Art on the Beach, a fundraiser entitled Dinner by the Sea, and more.

“It is great to see so many people and companies pull together to make our beaches better,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo. “I particularly appreciate the people of Winthrop Parks and Recreation, the Friends of Belle Isle Mars and all their partners working together to share our beaches with the residents of Revere and Winthrop. I am pleased to have Save the Harbor as a leading advocate for our beaches.”

With the Better Beaches program in its third year, Save the Harbor called on local beach groups to submit proposals that strengthen their organizations and allow them to sustain beach programming in the longer term. Groups responded with creative revenue-generating ideas for merchandising kites, T-shirts, totes, and hats as well as developing corporate partnerships, membership drives, raffles, fundraising events, marketing and media strategies.

“All these groups share a love for their beaches,” said Patricia Foley, President of Save the Harbor / Save the Bay. “These great programs would simply not be possible without the hard work and enthusiasm of these Friends groups.”

Save the Harbor / Save the Bay introduced the Better Beaches Small Grants Program in 2008 in response to a key finding of Metropolitan Beaches Commission’s report which called for increased programming on the area beaches. In the program’s first two years Save the Harbor / Save the Bay funded events designed to jumpstart public activities and programming on public beaches. Through 2009, the program leveraged a total of over $180,000 investment in free events and programs on the region’s public beach.

For more information about the “Better Beaches” program, please contact Save the Harbor / Save the Bay’s Director of Strategy and Communications Bruce Berman directly on his cell at 617-293-6243.

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