Until next month the city of Goleta is accepting applications for an annual grant that offers local businesses the chance to fund projects that benefit city residents.

Over the past nine years, the Community Project Grants Program has awarded up to $2,500 to each winning applicant. Funded by the City of Goleta’s General Fund, the program is facing cutbacks this year, but has been allocated $10,000 by the city nevertheless, and will accept applications from January 3 through February 16. Goleta’s mayor, along with two residents will select the best applications for the city council to choose from in April.

According to Valerie Kushnerov, public information officer for the City of Goleta, the winning projects are determined based on the positive effects they will have on the community.

“There are very specific criteria for awarding grants and projects must benefit the residents of the city of Goleta,” Kushnerov said. “The project has to benefit the community; it can be a cultural activity, Goleta oriented event, or regional project that benefits Goleta.”

Past recipients of the grant include the Alzheimer’s Association, Domestic Violence Solutions, Dos Pueblos Little League, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Goleta Valley Beautiful, Safety Town and other organizations. Of these past winners, Goleta Valley Beautiful has received the grant in eight of the last nine years for their urban landscaping projects.

Executive Director of Goleta Valley Beautiful Ken Knight said last year’s grant allowed their organization to complete a tree-planting project in a local park.

“Goleta Valley Beautiful received a Grant of $1000 last year for tree planting at Girsh park,” Knight said. “We planted 23 trees on October 9 with the help of 92 volunteers, most of who came from UCSB, and contributed a total of 278 hours of community service in completing the project. The grant was extremely successful in this particular instance and was a very valuable source that we used for its intended purpose of benefiting the entire community”

Despite the program’s downsizing, Kushnerov said the grant is not in danger of elimination.

“We will not be able to offer as many grants as last year but it is amazing that the city can offer any grants given the fiscal crisis within the state,” Kushnerov said.

Goleta City Councilmember Roger Aceves said the amount of funds given to local businesses will return to previous years’ levels once the economy recovers.

“I am extremely proud that given these economic times $10,000 will be given to these needy organizations to benefit our community,” Aceves said. “In the future, as the economy takes an upswing we will be able to benefit even more people.”