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Mellon Foundation funds Marcus Garvey Park improvements

Marcus Garvey Park set for million-dollar makeover
Marcus Garvey Park set for million-dollar makeover 01:55

NEW YORK -- CBS2 community partner Harlem Grown just received big backing from the Mellon Foundation's Humanities In Place program to fund a makeover of Marcus Garvey Park.

Harlem Grown agricultural director LaTonya Assanah grew up playing in the park, and admitted a lot has changed.

"Mom could look at me out the window and I could walk completely across the street," Assanah remembered.

Some areas have become harbors for drug use. Other spaces are not utilized at all.

Assanah is now helping development and communications director Melissa McLeod identify the ideal spaces to invest.

"We want to talk about the heritage of the people that have lived here over time and make sure that that's something that's not lost," McLeod said.

The Mellon Foundation's Humanities In Place program donated $1.3 million to launch the Marcus Garvey Park Culture, Creativity and Care Initiative, funding programming for the next two summers.

"The first step is engaging with groups that are already doing work here and seeing how we can support them and get others doing the same thing," said McLeod.

Harlem Grown's mission to grow healthy Harlem families has grown to more than a dozen urban farms in a decade. Now, the nonprofit will work with the city to maximize the neighborhood park's potential.

"You don't have to go to Midtown to have a good time," said Assanah. "You could come right here to Harlem."

In addition to overseeing interesting installations and pop-up pavilions, Harlem Grown will host its mobile teaching kitchen program in the park, bringing together neighbors of all ages and backgrounds and creating a new sense of community.

"That person you walk by all the time and didn't want to say nothing because they over there doing something you don't like," described Assanah. "Now, they may show a little bit more respect for you, and now we all can enjoy each other's space and company at the same time."

Organizations and individuals with ideas for the space can fill out a form of interest right now. The Request For Proposal process opens soon.

To find a link to the form of interest and learn more about Harlem Grown, click here.

Have a story idea or tip in Harlem? Email Jessi by CLICKING HERE.

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