Community Connection grants sees surge in interest

Rene Robertson-Potisk, social change accelerator at Family and Community Services, said the county handed out 121 community connection grants this year, totalling around $50,000. She said there were also 12 community change grants given out, which totalled around $15,000.

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Community connections seem to be getting stronger in Strathcona County.

The county has announced that 2019 saw more community connection grants awarded than ever before.

“We had two different grant streams this year, the Community Connections grants and Community Change grants,” explained Rene Robertson-Potisk, social change accelerator at the county’s Family and Community Services Department. “There were 121 approved community connection grants of under $500 to help supplement the cost of hosting something like a block party or a pancake breakfast.”

The first year of the initiative saw around 30 grants given out. Interest has steadily increased as 2018, the third year of the program, saw 104 applications.

“For the Community Connection grants, we had $50,000 that went out and the majority of the applicants received $425,” she said.

The grants supported resident-lead activities for their community.

“Not everybody that has a block party gets a grant and there are a lot of block parties in Strathcona County that have been going on for years and years and it is just the neighbours getting together and doing everything themselves,” Robertson-Potisk said, adding these grants are there to help create even more community activities in the county.

The inaugural year for the Community Change grants also proved to be a hit. Ranging between $500 to $2,000, 12 projects were successful in funding requests. They included such initiatives as mental health training, community gardens, mural’s, community libraries and many other projects that would bring the community together.

“We’re committed to supporting the social framework outcomes and supported community, which includes the connection and inclusion outcome. Council does make the budget decisions each year and funding amounts will be subject to those decisions, but we anticipate we’ll continue to support these programs,” Robertson-Potisk explained. “It is an investment in the community and when those dollars are leveraged it goes a long way to empower people to make a difference in a neighbourhood.”

The county would now take what was learned from all the applications and events this year and incorporate those lessons into next year.

“Based on how the Community Connection grants grew this year, we do expect even more applications next year,” she added.

2020 grant applications will be open in the spring and close around mid-April. You can find out more about how to apply for a grant next year by visiting strathcona.ca/seedgrants.

travisdosser@postmedia.com

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