A tree being planted by members of the Cavalry Methodist Church in Middletown, a 2020 grant awardee

Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) today announced it has awarded thirteen grants totaling $18,000 to local community and neighborhood groups through its annual grant program,  the Merritt Neighborhood Fund. Grant awards ranged from $500 to $2,500.  

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. It  has awarded grants each year since its founding, distributing over $146,000 in total. A committee  of ALT volunteers and board members determines the awards. 

“We received grant submissions for many wonderful projects this year,” said Chuck  Allott, ALT Executive Director in a statement. “It gives us great pleasure to support tree and landscape plantings, non-profit gardens, community and educational gardens, and other public enhancements that encourage an appreciation of the outdoors. Though each award is modest,  collectively they improve our community by instilling neighborhood pride and fostering an appreciation for the natural world.”

A 2017 grant from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation has enabled ALT to increase its Merritt Neighborhood Fund distribution in recent years.  

Awards were given to the following applicants: 

∙ Aquidneck Community Table: improvements to the Food Forest  

∙ Bike Newport: solar water pump at community gardens 

∙ Newport Boys & Girls Club: restoration of exterior landscaping 

∙ Butts Hill Fort Restoration/Portsmouth Historical Society: removal of vegetation  at historic site 

∙ Daffodillion: daffodil bulbs for island beautification 

∙ Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District: four raised garden beds at  Portsmouth Aginnovation  

∙ God’s Community Garden: garden supplies and improvements 

∙ Norman Bird Sanctuary: improvements to vegetable garden and preparation area ∙ Newport Tree Conservancy: planting of 30 trees at Miantonomi Park 

∙ The Pennfield School: raised bed gardens for the Outdoor Classroom 

∙ Portsmouth Garden Club: improvements to three public gardens 

∙ St. John the Evangelist Church: landscaping on west side of the church grounds  ∙ Town of Middletown: bike racks for public beaches 

ALT says that information on the 2022 Merritt Neighborhood Awards will be announced in February 2022.

Ryan Belmore is the 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 - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

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.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

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 ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.