Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA) is distributing matching grants of more than $580,000 to eight projects or organizations throughout Erie County, including $308,000 to be injected into Erie’s east side.
Erie Mayor Joe Schember said, “The east side has been ignored. There’s no excuse for that, but now we’re paying attention to it. We’re doing a lot of great things.”
Most of that money comes from ECGRA’s Anchor Building Grant Program designed to support community and cultural centers like the former Saint Mary’s School. Emmaus Ministries will receive $100,000 towards the cost of 96 new energy-efficient windows and a new restroom in the building.
Sr. Mary Miller, director of Emmaus Ministries, said “ECGRA’s grant money is really a blessing to us. This building is old. We’ve been year after year, we’ve been trying to do small things to improve it.”
ECGRA also awarded Anchor Building awards to buildings at 404-406 W 8th St ($100,000), Grace Church’s Leadership Development Center ($100,00), PACA Building ($93,126.50), and Corry City Hall ($26,125).
Grace Church is working to return the building at East 7th and Holland streets to its roots.
“We’re excited. That’s the original building that our church started in,” said Lead Pastor Derek Sanford. “So, back in the late 1800’s, 19 Swedish immigrants started a church, right there at that corner.”
Sanford says the $100,000 grant will help them turn the building, which in recent years was a dance studio, into the church’s Leadership Development Center. “It’s to help people to start new ministries, new non-profits within the city walls. And so, we’re very excited about raising up a whole new generation of leaders.”
The money awarded also included $161,840 from ECGRA’s Renaissance Block Grants Program, which provided grants ranging from $50,000 to $58,840 to Bayfront East Side Taskforce (BEST), ServErie, and Preservation Erie.
Perry Wood, executive director of ECGRA, said, “I think what’s great is that these types of organizations represent the neighborhood. They bring the neighborhood together. They give the neighborhood a voice.”