Since 2018, The County Foundation (TCF) has been looking for possible ideas on how to address the issue of ‘sense of belonging’ here in the County. One idea they’ve developed is the Neighbourhood Small Grants (NSG) program.
The program is new to Ontario but not new to Canada as the Vancouver Community Foundation (VCF) has been running a similar program for about 20 years.
The NSG’s are based on a simple but powerful idea- when people feel a sense of belonging to their neighbourhood they are more likely to be engaged in activities which make it a better place.
The NSG program supports people who have small but powerful ideas and who want to make their communities better places to live.
“There are a number of reasons these micro grants are needed. One is in our 2018 Vital Signs report where we identified a community issue which is ‘Sense of belonging’ and there are many reasons for that issue- affordable housing, the continual rise of the cost of living, the cost of utilities, the cost of food in and around the county and so forth,” Foundation member Tony Walton told The Gazette. “People are feeling that’s a problem and they no longer belong here in the way they felt they did years ago.”
Grants ranging from $50 to $500 will be given to applicable applicants for projects which connect and engage neighbourhood residents (e.g. A block party or social gathering), share skills and knowledge (e.g. Yoga instructor teaching a free class), build a sense of ownership and pride (e.g. Cleaning up an alleyway), and respect and celebrate diversity (e.g. multicultural community kitchen).
A grant is money TCF provides in order for the applicant to bring the project to life.
Studies indicate when people are active in the life of their neighbourhood, the communities are strengthened from the ground up and luckily for The County Foundation, they’ve been granted access to resources utilized by their counter parts in Vancouver.
“The VCF have a lot of resources they’ve created over that 20 year period and we have been granted access to those resources,” said Walton. “We’re also in contact with other community foundations in BC who have also had similar programs running and one of those is the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan/Similkameen. So we’re well blessed in terms of having some help in doing this.”
Applications for these grants opened Jan. 18 and will be closing Feb 28.
Grants will be awarded Mar. 26 with projects being commenced and completed in May 2020.
The May completion date is in order to align with the Genwell project which is a not-for-profit and promotes two weekends each year for people to get off the treadmill of life and set aside technology to spend face-to-face time with one another.
“Genwell feel in doing that, it helps to reduce the anxiety and depression people are feeling,” Walton stated. “They feel it makes people more resilient because they realize at that point they’re no longer alone and they can feel better connected to where there might be a source of help, a source of company, a source of opportunity for friendship and it does improve their resilience to make them happy and perhaps gives them a longer life. Their outcomes seem so well aligned with what we are looking for that it really inspired us to start our projects on that same weekend in May. We did feel with having so many events in which were given grants we might better spread them out in the month of May rather than trying to cram them all into that one weekend, that’s how we picked the timing.”
To apply you must be a Prince Edward County resident, the project must take place within your own neighbourhood, each project must have two applicants as leads both coming from the same community but different addresses, and registered organizations and businesses are not eligible to apply.
An information meeting will be held at the Bloomfield Town Hall on Feb. 1, 2020.
For more information please visit https://thecountyfoundation.ca/grants-funds/neighbourhood-small-grants/
To apply please visit https://thecountyfoundation.ca/grants-funds/neighbourhood-small-grants/neighbourhood-small-grant-application/