Tempe Innovation Fund

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Tempe City Council awarded a total of $500,000 to nine innovative, community-improving projects in May 2018.

Scientists, community groups and non-profits competed for a portion of the $500,000. Tempe City Council created the one-time fund to encourage and promote new and creative ideas that will significantly improve the community and keep Tempe as the regional leader in innovation.

“Tempe is a forward-thinking community. We look ahead to find ways to improve our community and the lives of the people who live and work here,” Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said. “These projects help our children, our environment, our families and our businesses.”

There is no plan to offer another Innovation Fund. 

The following ideas were awarded funds:

Re-Entry Assistance Program (REAP): $83,343
REAP is a three-year pilot program committed to the successful reintegration of incarcerated individuals and their families. The program will provide intensive case management services to program participants and work with diverse community partners to ensure that the whole family has the support and services they need both during the time of incarceration and upon re-entry into the community. 

Arizona Green Business Program: $60,000 

Local First Arizona was awarded an opportunity to launch a regional first-of-its-kind Green Business Certification program. Each participating business will be surveyed to identify potential areas for more sustainable processes and products. This will save businesses money and help the environment. A certificate will recognize businesses that excel in sustainable practices. 

Selleh Park Pond Floating Island Project: $7,000
The Alameda Meadows Neighborhood Association received innovation funds to study the ability to install a floating island garden in the Selleh Park pond. Floating islands provide a natural method to improve water quality, provide safe habitats for existing park wildlife and attract new wildlife varieties. The intent is to improve the pond environment as well as beautify the park. Floating island gardens have not been implemented at any other Tempe waters. These islands could reduce the amount of chemicals that are required in the pond. 

Tempe Grease Cooperative’s Pilot Grease Trap Assistance Program: $60,000 

The Grease Trap Assistance Program will help businesses with new grease traps through short-term loans.  Approximately 20 percent of Tempe’s restaurants belong to the Tempe Grease Cooperative (TGC.) TGC collects and ensures proper disposal of approximately 600,000 gallons of grease trap waste each year. This saves more than $350,000 annually for the City of Tempe and the members of the co-op. This partnership could generate nearly 5 million cubic feet of renewable biogas. 

Play Learn Live Grow Mobile: approximately $57,500 

The Innovation Fund will support the Tempe Play, Learn, Live, Grow Mobile, a recreation program on wheels designed to create safe, fun and interactive atmospheres in neighborhood parks that encourage children to go outside and play. The proposed pilot will take recreation programming on the road, utilizing a large cargo van outfitted with balls, jump ropes, bases and other sports equipment, games and art projects. The program will travel throughout Tempe and provide activities for children after school. The amount of the award could potentially increase, pending the amount necessary for other Innovation Fund projects. 

Career Ready Tempe: $102,000
It is expected that two-thirds of jobs will require higher education by 2020. The Career Ready Tempe pilot program will provide at least 40 low income Tempe youth with a stipend for their participation in an internship with a Tempe business. Tempe schools, EVIT and the Tempe Chamber of Commerce will participate in this program to select students, businesses and ensure overall success of the program.

Equity in Action: $75,000
The Innovation Fund will support the first equity in planning advisory effort in an Arizona city. The Equity in Action pilot program is designed to increase the participation of underrepresented residents in Tempe’s planning and decision-making processes. This project brings five social justice organizations to participate in an advisory board to ensure that underrepresented residents have a voice in city decision-making. This will benefit several engagement processes such as Urban Core Master Plan, Tempe Accelerates, Character Area planning, park improvement projects, streetscape projects and the Climate Action Plan. 

Wastewater Data Analytics: $35,000
By studying Tempe’s wastewater, ASU scientists will be able to help determine where future drug abuse resources are needed. A composite measure of wastewater will be collected from Tempe’s wastewater to identify biomarkers, such as opioids and opioid metabolites. The data collected will be anonymous, non-identifying information. More than 300 cities, nationally and internationally, already are part of ASU’s Human Health Observatory monitoring network; however, through this pilot program, Tempe will be the first city to incorporate wastewater data with other strategies to drive decisions that achieve community health outcomes. ASU is providing a matching grant.

Watch a video:  https://biodesign.asu.edu/environmental-health-engineering

One Touch Reporting App for Employees: $20,000
Damaged trash cans, broken street lights and more will soon be able to be reported more quickly and easily by Tempe staff. Council agreed to fund a One Touch Reporting App for City of Tempe employees. The concept is to improve the 3-1-1 app with always-on reporting component to be located on five dedicated smart phones mounted to the dashboard of city vehicles. The most commonly reported items would be large, one touch, always on buttons. Upon a single press, the app would pull the GPS location, generate a prewritten email and send the email to the Tempe 311 email address for resolution.

To watch the presentations by several of the Innovation Fund award-winners please visit http://tempe.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=2787