Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) is now accepting applications for
grants from the Merritt Neighborhood Fund, which supports the preservation of small parks, community gardens, and other natural spaces on Aquidneck Island.

Established in 1999 to honor the late Peter M. Merritt, the organization’s president emeritus, the Fund supports projects that strengthen community identity and character, and which model the ethic of land conservation and stewardship through community volunteerism. Grants typically range from $250 to $2,500.

“This year marks the Merritt Fund’s twentieth anniversary and we could not be more thrilled with the wonderful projects that have come to pass since we began,” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director of ALT in a press release. “It has been very rewarding to see the ways in which Islanders have improved and beautified their public spaces with Merritt grants. Last year, we awarded 12 grants totaling over $16,000 to local community and neighborhood groups. Aquidneck Island residents and visitors all benefit from the creativity and effort that go into these projects.”

Some of the projects funded last year were: a bike path from the Big Blue Bike Shed to Miantonomi Park; trees for the Portsmouth Historical Society building; raised garden beds for Lucy’s Hearth; expansion of a public prayer garden at St. John the Evangelist Church; and trees for Valley Park
in Middletown.

A full list of 2018 awards and applications for 2019 Merritt Neighborhood Fund grants may be found on the ALT website ( Applications must be submitted by
5:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 18, 2019. Award decisions will be announced in late May.

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Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

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In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.