By Christen Aldridge
Brick City Boxing Academy and Birdseed Collective were among several nonprofits recently awarded grants from the Denver Economic Development & Opportunity division of Neighborhood Equity & Stabilization (NEST) to continue their impactful work for the community.
Community Support Mini Grants, in partnership with the Denver Foundation, offer $500-10,000 in grant money for nonprofits in Athmar Park, Barnum, Barnum West, Clayton, College View, East Colfax, Elyria-Swansea, Globeville, Kennedy, Lincoln Park, Mar Lee, Montbello, Ruby Hill, Sun Valley, Valverde, Villa Park, Westwood and Windsor.
According to Denver.gov, “Funding is available for small, community-driven projects designed to strengthen community, create a stronger and more connected neighborhood, and address community needs.”
Anthony Garcia of Birdseed Collective, a community outreach organization that works to uplift the community through arts and humanities, said he is grateful for the support.
“We work to give back to our community, and the grant has helped us uplift the area,” Garcia said.
Birdseed Collective provides community support such as food banks, transportation access, after-school programs for youth and multicultural programming. Garcia, who is an experienced visual artist, started Birdseed Collective 13 years ago. The organization has three facilities: the Alto Art Gallery located in RiNo ArtPark, Zapare Studio, which is working with 10 artists, and the Globeville Center.
“We work with the community to see what needs to be filled,” Garcia said. Birdseed Collective won a $10,000 mini grant for the Globeville Dia De Los Muertos community event, a Mexican holiday in which families welcome souls of the dead in a celebration with food, music and makeshift altars.
David Mingo, the founder of Brick City Boxing Academy, has seen the impact that his organization has on his boxing students.
Brick City Boxing Academy offers more than boxing lessons. It offers a safe place and a future for low-income and high-risk kids in the Globeville, Elyria and Swansea neighborhoods.
“A lot of our kids come from broken families, exposed to drugs, a lot of negativity. After coming to Brick City Academy they start to see purpose in their lives. I always say it’s not where you come from, it is what you make of it,” Mingo said.
Brick City Boxing Academy was awarded $5,510 for capacity building. The grant has also helped Brick City provide free lessons and equipment, a scholarship fund and transportation to matches.
Brick City Boxing Academy first started 30 years ago as a day of empowerment and uplifting the community and youth, called Brick City Day Reunion. Until David Mingo was asked to join the staff at Johnson Recreation Center to work on gaining more attendance for the recreation center. Mingo started Brick City Boxing Academy shortly thereafter in 2018, then COVID-19 hit and the recreation center was forced to close for two years. Now, the Brick City Academy is growing at the Johnson Rec Center with 25 kids and one of the students ranking No. 7 in the nation. Brick City Academy will be going to Silver Gloves in November and then later to Missouri to compete in nationals.
Focus Points Family Resource Center, a past winner of a Community Support Mini Grant, offers adult education, early childhood education, family services, health and wellness, and economic inclusion. Their Huerta Urbana program trains families in local food production and distribution, and their Comal Heritage Food Incubator provides a restaurant and culinary arts training center for immigrants and refugees. Focus Point Family Resource Center also helps with the SNAP, LEAP, Medicaid and TRUA programs.