BITS & BYTES: Roots Rising nabs MassDev Grant;  Berkshire Grown Winter Market;  CHP offers support group with special needs, ACA enrollment assistance;  Nomination of the Nonprofit Awards opens

BITS & BYTES: Roots Rising nabs MassDev Grant; Berkshire Grown Winter Market; CHP offers support group with special needs, ACA enrollment assistance; Nomination of the Nonprofit Awards opens

Roots Rising has received a $ 7,500 MassDevelopment grant for its new urban youth center in Pittsfield. Photo: Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market, 2019, courtesy of Roots Rising

Roots Rising awarded $ 7.5000 MassDevelopment grant

PITTSFIELD – MassDevelopment has awarded a $ 7,500 grant to Roots Rising for the development of its new urban youth farm in Pittsfield, with funding to support community involvement, land valuation, farm research and business planning. Byg√•rden’s mission will focus on youth development and food justice; provide meaningful work to disadvantaged teens; dealing with food insecurity in Pittsfield, including by selling farm-grown food at Roots Rising farmers markets at affordable prices; and create a green hub for society. Funds are allocated through MassDevelopment’s Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places, which were made available specifically to assist local economic recovery efforts as community partners prepare public spaces and commercial districts to serve residents and visitors.

The Commonwealth Places was established in 2016 and aims to engage and mobilize community members to make individual contributions to placemaking projects, with the incentive for a MassDevelopment funding match if the crowdfunding goal is achieved. In response to the pandemic, MassDevelopment announced the opening of the first COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places in June 2020 and, from August-October 2020, allocated $ 224,965 in funding to 21 projects across the state.

In December 2020, MassDevelopment announced the availability of $ 390,000 in funding for another round of responses. Nonprofits and other community groups can apply for MassDevelopment for start-up grants of $ 250- $ 7,500 to fund inclusive community engagement, visions and local capacity building that will support future placemaking efforts, or implementation grants of up to $ 50,000 to carry out a placemaking project. For implementation grants, up to $ 10,000 per project awarded as an unsurpassed grant; prizes of more than $ 10,000 must be matched with crowdfunding donations. More information about the program is available online.



Berkshire Grown Winter Farmers Market continues through April at Housatonic

Winter Vegetables at Berkshire Grown Farmers Market. Photo courtesy of Berkshire Grown

HUSTONIC – Berkshire Green’s next winter market takes place at Housy Dome Saturday, January 15 from kl. 10-14 For the safety of all suppliers and shoppers, masks are required in the market. For shoppers who want to buy fresh local produce, meat and eggs but do not want to shop in person, Berkshire Grown offers online shopping through WhatsGood, with pickup next to the Housy Dome. The number of people in the market area will be limited at all times to allow for social distancing.

Shoppers are encouraged to plan by making a shopping list and sending only one household member to market.

Great Barrington’s indoor winter markets will continue to run the third Saturday of the month through April 16th. Market vendors can vary from month to month, but locally grown and produced foods are always available. Housy Dome is located at 1064 Main Street in Housatonic and is included on Berkshire Regional Transit Authority BRTA Route # 21.

Admission to Farmers Markets is free, and SNAP is accepted with a 100 percent match, available at the market manager’s table. For shoppers who use SNAP, Berkshire Grown is authorized to run the Healthy Incentive Program (HIP), which adds extra money to EBT purses for fruits and vegetables on top of common SNAP benefits. SNAP can also be used with online pre-orders.



ACA open enrollment ends Jan. 23; CHP available to assist

FANTASTIC BARRINGTON – The deadline for enrollment in state-funded Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance plans is January 23, and the Community Health Programs (CHP) enrollment team is available to assist clients.

Unlike previous years, the open enrollment period will not be extended this year in Massachusetts. However, Federal COVID-19 provides emergency funding to eligible applicants with additional monthly premium assistance.

William Cruz, who heads the CHP insurance enrollment team, said his staff book appointments to help people who need to sign up for ACA plans for the first time, as well as those who want to review their existing ACA plans.

The CHP team is also available for a wide range of insurance assistance and support year-round. Health insurance is mandatory for Massachusetts residents, and the Massachusetts Health Connector program connects residents with plans that serve their geographic area.

For an appointment with a CHP Enrollment Specialist, call 413-717-6268 or email



CHP offers online support group for parents of children with special needs

FANTASTIC BARRINGTON – Parents and caregivers of school-age children with special needs are invited to join a free, weekly online support group to talk about their experiences and get in touch with other carers.

The meetings take place Wednesdays from 9-10, via Zoom, and is facilitated by Rania Markham, a social media intern at CHP Family Services. The group is open to all parents or carers in Berkshire County. Pre-registration is required.

“Raising a child with special needs can be challenging, even in the best of times,” Markham said. “And especially during the pandemic, feelings of isolation have been overwhelming for many families. This group provides support, companionship, and caregivers.”

Interested participants are asked to send an email to or call 413-528-0457 to register.



Nominations open for the 5th annual Berkshire Nonprofit Awards

FANTASTIC BARRINGTON – The Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires, in partnership with The Berkshire Eagle, will host the 5th annual Berkshire Nonprofit Awards Tuesday, May 24 at 8:30 p.m. The awards recognize work performed by individuals in the nonprofit sector. Representative William “Smitty” Pignatelli will host the 45-minute Zoom event.

Nominations are sought from across the Berkshires in seven categories: Executive Leadership, Board Leadership, Rock Star, Unsung Hero, Volunteer, Youth Leadership and Lifetime Achievement. One honoree in each category will be selected by a judging panel and profiled in a special section of The Berkshire Eagle. Nominations must be made by 28 February.

As part of the 2022 awards event, the NPC will once again give away a $ 3,000 cash prize to a nonprofit chosen at random from those in attendance. Music in Common is also returning with a performance from its latest program, The Black Legacy Project.

The NPC is currently seeking sponsors for this festive event.


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