HOLYOKE — The Carlos Vega Fund is asking local nonprofits and organizations engaged in social justice projects to apply for mini-grants of up to $2,000.

“The intention of the grants is to support social justice initiatives that local organizations are engaged in,” explained Aaron Vega, Carlos Vega’s son and a member of the fund’s advisory board. “The idea is not to have this grant be part of general operations for an organization but to fill a gap in a program or activity or to fully fund an event or initiative.”

Any nonprofit organization in the greater Holyoke area can apply for the mini-grant. Generally, the fund focuses on Hampden County organizations, but it has supported some programs in Hampshire County as well. Applications for the mini-grants can be found on the fund’s website www.carlosvegafund.org and are due April 19. The applications will then be reviewed by the fund’s advisory board and winners will be notified.

“Applicants need to be a nonprofit or have a nonprofit fiscal sponsor,” noted Vega. “A narrative and budget are required as part of the application process.”
Those receiving the grants will be awarded the funds on May 10 at 3 p.m. at Wistariahurst Museum. Those organizations will need to file a report after one year explaining how the funds were used.

The fund began in 2010, shortly before Carlos Vega’s death. He was able to be a part of the first grant cycle. According to its website, the mission of the fund is to honor his commitment to a “more vibrant and equitable community.”

Since its inception, the fund has distributed over $63,000 to 52 organizations in the area. Grants had been limited to $1,000 in funds, but this year that amount was raised to $2,000.

“The board felt it was important to raise the ceiling on the grant,” explained Vega. “We hope this will attract more interest and allow for some larger projects to be funded.”

Projects must meet one of the four goals of the organization: address some of the basic causes of poverty and injustice, foster self-help and empowerment skills, promote social justice or respond to unmet needs of marginalized groups in the greater Hampden County area.

“We are excited to be offering this grant opportunity once again to the larger community and keeping the work and spirit of Carlos alive in social justice efforts,” said Vega.