The IU Center for Rural Engagement will provide microgrants to Indiana communities preparing for eclipse-related events in 2024. Bloomington is expected to be in the path of totality of the eclipse, which will occur April 8, 2024.
According to Indiana Public Media, organizations can apply for $2,000 grants by submitting ideas for eclipse-related activities and events. The funding for the grants will come from the Simons Foundation, an organization striving to advance research in mathematics and basic sciences, and the Regional Opportunity Initiative, a nonprofit with the goal of expanding economic and community prosperity in Indiana. Funding is a part of IU’s Solar Eclipse Initiative.
Hannah Jones, solar eclipse liaison at the Center for Rural Engagement, said the organization was given a budget of $60,000 to be dispersed in 30 microgrants, each totaling $2,000. She said applications for the grants will open Aug. 1, 2023.
Jones said the Center for Rural Engagement is working on outreach and spreading the word on the microgrant initiative.
“We’re really just making sure that rural communities across Indiana are aware of this opportunity,” Jones said. “We’re in the process of meeting with board members from community foundations, arts organizations, regional partners and other things like that to make sure we have breadth across that path of totality.”
Jones said the Center for Rural Engagement is in the early stages of outreach, with most communication focused on directly contacting community foundations, but the center eventually wants to join their mailing lists. She said they have already contacted the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance, a nonprofit network of foundations, companies and social investors, about potentially joining their mailing list.
Jones said the center is looking to provide grants for musical performances, artistic displays and general community events that bring people together.
“There’s a ton of variety, so it’s hard not to just go down a rabbit hole of listing off random things that have come up,” Jones said. “We’re looking for ways to spark joy, awe and wonder. That’s the goal of it.”
The IDS reported that during the 2017 partial solar eclipse in Indiana, many communities along the path of the eclipse had triple their population size due to large amounts of tourists. A much larger population of tourists is expected for the 2024 eclipse as it is going to be a total solar eclipse, with hotels such as the Biddle Hotel at IU and the Cascades Inn already sold out for the date of the event.