From Opelika to Sylacauga, and places between and beyond, Alabamians are greening their communities with the help of grants from the Alabama Power Foundation’s Good Roots program.
Good Roots offers grants of up to $1,000 for cities, towns, schools and nonprofits to plant trees and other plants to improve public spaces. To date, more than 760 Good Roots grants have been awarded across the state, totaling nearly $700,000. The foundation is accepting applications now for the latest round of grants, through April 29.
In the town of New Site, in Tallapoosa County, community leaders recently used a Good Roots grant to purchase and plant maple trees in the town park.
“Thank you … for making our community more vibrant and beautiful,” Town Clerk Shelia Fuller wrote in an update to the foundation. She included “before and after” photos of the trees, which promise to provide needed shade as they grow and mature.
Across the state in Livingston, in west Alabama, the city and the Livingston Beautification Board jointly applied last year for a Good Roots grant to help beautify the historic downtown, which also serves as a gateway to the University of West Alabama. The grant paid for flowering crape myrtles that were planted along Monroe Street.
City officials report that the beautification effort has already spurred one local business to repair and repaint its building. More plantings are in store for this year to continue the momentum, officials said.
In Opelika, a Good Roots grant paid for the planting of magnolia trees in a pocket park that “had seen better days,” and is a gateway to downtown, said Ken Ward, executive director of Opelika Main Street.
The park site used to be home to a historic grocery store that was torn down decades ago. The grocery was operated by the Killgore family, who created a scholarship program that continues to support area students. A historic marker at the site about the Killgores also was looking rundown, Ward said; it is being refurbished as part of the renovation of the green space. The organization Keep Opelika Beautiful partnered with Opelika Main Street on the beautification project.
Ward said the project fits perfectly with the continuing revitalization of downtown Opelika, which has seen nearly $40 million in public and private reinvestment in recent years. Downtown now sports two craft breweries, a craft distillery, restaurants, entertainment venues and many small retailers that, combined, have created more than 100 new jobs, Ward said.
“We’ve seen a lot of growth and it has reverberated across the community,” Ward added.
In Selma, officials are preparing to use a Good Roots grant to purchase and plant oak trees at Riverfront Park, one of the city’s largest and most popular greenspaces. The new trees will replace diseased or infested trees in the park. This year, Selma was named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to planting and maintaining trees.
In Sylacauga, a Good Roots grant was recently used to plant trees and beautify the Donald Comer Jr. Recreation Complex, where the community gathers for baseball, softball, soccer, games and events, said Steve Masters, Sylacauga Parks and Recreation executive director. As in New Site, over the long run the trees are expected to provide needed shade at the complex.
“This is probably our third or fourth Good Roots grant,” Masters said. He noted that some of the city’s parks are decades old, with aging trees. “Every time we have to cut one, we try to plant two.”
“We appreciate the grant very much and already have plans to hopefully work with you and this grant in the future to better enhance some of our parks,” Masters wrote in a report to the foundation.
To learn more about the Good Roots grant program and to apply, click here.
The Alabama Power Foundation is committed to empowering communities and improving quality of life for all Alabamians. Funded by shareholder dollars, the foundation provides philanthropic support to Alabama communities, nonprofits and educational institutions. Learn more about the foundation at www.powerofgood.com.