Mill Race Center gets parks grant

Mill Race Center will use a grant from the Columbus Park Board to help fund its Readers Theater program.

Park board members awarded the senior center $3,110 for the program.

It’s the first time the board has awarded a grant for arts programming from a pool of $50,000 set aside in this year’s city budgets for The Commons and the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department.

The Commons has $15,000 for grants and the park board has $35,000.

Board president Amy Kleinert said Mill Race Center’s theater program fits a community need and covers the four fields of interest the board wants to see fulfilled when granting money:

Arts and cultural activities

Community development

Lifelong learning

Health and wellness

Paula Herlitz, the senior center’s development director, said while the grant falls short of the center’s $4,970 request, it will help by covering materials and other items for the popular program.

“The audience has been growing,” Herlitz told the park board, adding that the hope is that the grant will allow the center to continue to expand the program.

Readers Theater is a unique program for the community and for the senior population that Mill Race Center primarily serves, said Cindy Chodan, the center’s program and membership director.

Herlitz welcomed the park board to come to the next Readers Theater performance April 8, where Chodan said Bob Pitman, the center’s retired executive director, will make his debut.

Every bit helps in maintaining and growing the program, Chodan said. Additionally, having the parks department’s endorsement is helpful because of its positive reputation in the community, she said.

The program costs the center $9,170 in total. Of that total, $4,200 goes to meals, the cost of which are offset by the $7 ticket cost, Chodan said.

That leaves $4,970 in costs for royalties and copyrights on scripts, set materials, marketing and money for scholarships for tickets and meals for the event. The grant will cover about 60 percent of those costs.

Other nonprofit groups hoping to receive arts programming grants may still apply. The city requires nonprofits to submit a proposal that includes the application, a budget detailing all contributions and expenditures related to the project, an up-to-date financial audit or year-end statement, a list of governing board members, details of their annual operating budget and other financial documents.

Applications are considered by a five-member subcommittee — made up of two park board members, the parks director, the department’s director of businesses services and a parks department staffer involved in programming — before going to the full park board for review.

How to apply for parks grants

The grant application is available on the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department’s website at

Organizations must submit typed proposals that include:

  • A completed application.
  • A budget for the program, including all revenue, contributions and expenditures.
  • The group’s most recent financial audit or year-end financial statement.
  • A list of members of the governing board.
  • The annual operating budget, current month and year-to-date financial statements.
  • An income statement and year-end balance sheet.
  • A copy of the group’s 501(c)(3) tax exemption ruling from the IRS

Proposals may be sent to the park department director at Donner Center, 739 22nd St., Post Office Box 858, Columbus, IN 47201.

Applications submitted by the 10th day of the month, or the Monday after if the 10th is a holiday, will be eligible for review at the next month’s meeting of the Columbus Parks and Recreation Board.