Lafayette, La. – The 24 Hour Citizen Project continued to grow its tradition of grassroots civic engagement this weekend, funding four new community projects and announcing a new nonprofit that will take on the work of civic-focused projects throughout the year.
The 24 Hour Citizen Project started in 2016. The annual event invites teams to: “Dream It. Pitch It. Fund It. Do It.” Nineteen projects have been funded and implemented over the years, for a total of more than $120,000 from private funders.
Past projects funded include Krewe de Canailles, Musical Instrument Library (the M.I.Brary), BARE Walls and The Longest Table. The Y Lafayette letters, crowd-funded in 2014, were the 24 Hour Citizen Project team’s first funded project and helped inspire the first event.
The four projects funded at this year’s event, held at the Acadiana Center for the Arts Saturday night, were:
● Team Lemonade Stand awarded — The Granberry Boys and Girls Club has set out to build a set of three lemonade stands that will be deployed as fundraisers for nonprofits. The project will teach children at the club about entrepreneurship and business. Team was awarded $3,315.
● Team Oasis Neighborhood Food Pantry — Oasis Neighborhood Coterie to build and operate a free, community accessible food pantry to help those dealing with food security issues in the neighborhood. Team was awarded $2,500.
● Team Creole Garsons — Producers of the Creole Nutcracker plan to fund scholarships to increase male participation in their annual dance production, to increase access to the arts to those who are traditionally forgotten. Team was awarded $2,500.
● Team Mad Thinkers — A group of performing artists affiliated with Wonderland Performing Arts plan to produce a series of theater workshops for school children with low access to the arts, modeled around a fun and engaging “ad lib” method. Team was awarded $3,600.
Three other great projects were not selected for funding at the event and included an effort to get ACT and financial literacy training to high school athletes; a series of murals dedicated to engaging the community with the French language; and what’s called a “Human Library” a community-wide event designed to promote empathy with those who are different by setting up opportunities for participants to “borrow” human books and have one-on-one conversations with someone different from themselves.
Each year, many of the projects that are not funded at the event itself continue to move forward and get implemented, group founder Butch Roussel said.
“One of the inspiring things about the 24 Hour Citizen Project is seeing the level of dedication these teams bring to the issues they are working on,” Roussel said. “Funded or not, these projects all have the potential to make an impact.”
The need for ongoing work to engage civic-minded individuals in between the annual 24 Hour Citizen Projects is what has led to the formation of a new organization called Civicside, Roussel announced Saturday at the event.
“We all have a professional side and a personal side,” Roussel said. “We want to help cultivate people’s civic side, that part of them that wants to engage in their community and make it a better place.”
The new organization is a merger between the 24 Hour Citizen Project Team and ReCover Acadiana, a nonprofit that has organized Better Block events, tree plantings, and other projects designed to improve, beautify, and allow people to better connect with public spaces.
Many of the same volunteers work with each organization already, Roussel said.
Civicside will be looking for projects, volunteers, partners, ideas, expertise, and funding in order to develop a “pipeline of promise” for the Acadiana region, Roussel said.
The first step for Civicside will be working with the groups that pitched ideas that were not able to be funded at the 24 Hour Citizen Project to make sure those projects have an opportunity to come to fruition, Roussel said.
For more information, visit www.24hourcitizenproject.com and www.civicside.com.
Event sponsors were Courtesy Automotive Group, the Opportunity Machine, the Acadiana Center for the Arts, and Aileen Bennett.
The “backers”, who fund the projects, include Cade Evans, The 705, Techneaux, Jubilee Court, Allen & Gooch, Advancial, TK Insurance, Knezek Law, One Eye Love Creations, Social Entertainment, CGI, and Scott Eye Care.