2020 tree planting event at Calvary Methodist Church in Middletown, a project funded by a Merritt Fund grant

Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) is now accepting applications for grants from the Merritt Neighborhood Fund, an endowed fund that seeks to support 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.  

“Merritt grants help our community to improve and beautify many of the special shared places on our island,” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director of ALT. “The fund supports projects that enrich the lives of residents and help us all feel closer to nature. Collectively, the impact of  these projects is tremendous and reflects our desire to connect people to the land around them.” 

The grants totaled $18,000 in 2021. 

The projects funded last year were: 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 the historic site); Daffodillion (daffodil bulbs); Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District (garden beds at Portsmouth Aginnovation); God’s Community  Garden (garden supplies and improvements); Norman Bird Sanctuary (vegetable garden improvements); Newport Tree Conservancy (plant 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); Town of Middletown (bike racks for public beaches).

 2020 tree planting event at Calvary Methodist Church in Middletown, a project funded by a Merritt Fund grant

Applications for 2022 Merritt Neighborhood Fund grants may be found on the ALT  website. Applications must be received by Monday,  April 4, 2022.

Award decisions will be announced in mid-May

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. Although not the founder or original owner, Belmore has been with What'sUpNewp since its early beginnings in 2012.

Belmore was born in Providence, Rhode Island; grew up and graduated high school in Coventry, Rhode Island; and lived in Newport, Rhode Island for more than ten years. He 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 and his wife, Jen, as well as their two dogs (Aero and June), recently moved to Alexandria, Virginia. Belmore travels back and forth to Newport every couple of weeks to cover events, work on story ideas, to meet with What'sUpNewp's on-the-ground contributors, to visit friends, and to eat as much seafood as possible.

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