Grants and Expectations

Laura Hartman, Associate Professor at Roanoke College and Co-PI of the H.O.P.E. for Heat Resilience project

Published May 6, 2024

I did not fully realize, before we received this NSF grant, the degree to which having money leads to misunderstanding.

Our H.O.P.E. for Heat Resilience grant has a big-ticket price tag – 1 million dollars!

But am I walking the streets of Northwest Roanoke with Benjamins busting out of my back pockets? Not even close.

Some of the grant money goes directly to Virginia Tech and my college. (They do this to cover the overhead costs of research administration.) Most of the rest of the money is paying salaries to the good people who are devoting time, expertise, and creativity to the project. (Shout out to the leadership team – I see you working your butts off out there!) And we do have a few larger chunks allocated to certain projects (like a mural). It is pretty much all spoken for, and we’re using it to make things better for the community. (At least, we’re trying!)

The H.O.P.E. for Heat Resilience project has been an experience in learning to work collaboratively together to define a problem (of heat, yes, but of community resources and supports in general). How can we bring small nonprofits, faith communities, residents, government, academic researchers, students, and youth together in productive ways to address the increasing risks of heat waves? These groups have different perspectives, capacities, and expertise they bring to the table. They also each have limitations and processes they have to work around. This can cause many misunderstandings. But gradually we’re learning how to work together.

Learning to work together has positioned us to apply for even more grants, like the EPA Community Change Grant. This opportunity could bring $10-20 million to our Roanoke community. We need to build on the momentum we have to demonstrate our unified capacity, in a broader direction. Rather than focusing only on heat resilience we would also focus on broader community resilience and environmental improvements. We’re looking at a redesign of McCadden Park and an upgrade to the HOPE Center, among other things. We need to demonstrate that the projects are community-driven and community-supported.

But we don’t even have that grant, yet. We’re still in the application process. Which is its own kind of mess, believe me! Coordinating so many players, interests, and capacities; trying to look fundable in the eyes of the federal government; navigating conflicts, misunderstandings and tradeoffs. Why are we doing this, again?!? Oh yeah, because we care about Roanoke and we are committed to trying our best. (We won’t know if we get it, even, until March 2025 so don’t hold your breath!) If it comes to pass, we’ll receive a true gift: three glorious years of the best kind of hard work there is—healing, nurturing, and improving our community through collaborative process.

So the next time someone tells you that Dr. Lim or others on our team have millions of dollars and are going to use it in one particular way, tell them that you know differently. And then tell them to get in touch and get involved! They can find out more at or get in touch with me at or Antwyne at We definitely want to dialogue with the community whenever and however we can. We’re all in this together.