Connecting neighbourhoods, one small grant at a time

Neighbourhood Small Grants program returns to the South Okanagan and Similkameen

Neighbourhood small grants were so successful last fall that the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan decided to repeat it this spring.

“We granted 13 in the fall,” said community development officer Kim English. That includes everything from block parties to a community discussion group, a Giving Cupboard in Osoyoos and a book cupboard, where people can donate or recycle their old reading material.

What they all have in common is an effort to bring neighbourhoods together, building and strengthening connections.

“The goals of the program are to celebrate diversity, share knowledge and skills, build a sense of pride in their community,” said English.

Small grants of up to $500 are available for projects by local residents living in the communities throughout the South Okanagan and Similkameen and are available through the CFSO in co-funding partnerships with the Vancouver Foundation and the City of Penticton.

“We take great pride in helping create a sense of community,” said executive director Aaron McRann. “When people feel a sense of connection and belonging to their neighbourhood, they are more likely to be engaged in activities that make it a better place to live.”

This is only the second time the grant program has run in the South Okanagan, but the Vancouver Foundation has been having success with the idea since they created it in 1999.

More: Neighbourhood grant program expands

English said it is a very different program for the CFSOS, which usually funds charities and non-profit organizations.

“We are funding people that have creative ideas or are inspired to strengthen their neighbourhood ties and bonds,” said English.

Grants are given to projects that connect and engage residents, share skills and knowledge within the community, build a sense of ownership and pride, and respect and celebrate diversity. Block parties, art shows, craft workshops, yoga at sunrise and historical walking tours are just a few examples.

Some people, English explained, have lived in their neighbourhoods for decades, and have gone through the cycle of their own children, and have moved on to grandchildren. The community grant idea has made it easier for them to connect with younger, newer residents of the neighbourhood.

“There is kind of a disconnect between the generations” said English. “It has been really effective in bringing older established people in the neighbourhoods bridging together with the newer people of the neighbourhood.”

English said on the day of the events people were already talking about next year’s event or what they can do to further strengthen their neighbourhood.

“It is the springboard for them to decide where they want to go with their own neighbourhood,” said English.

A simple online application is all that is needed. The deadline for applications is April 28. For more information on the Neighbourhood Small Grants program, and to apply online, visit www.cfso.net or email kimenglish@cfso.net.

For those who wish to learn more, the CFSOS has arranged a series of workshops:

Princeton Museum, March 13, 4 to 5 p.m.

Oliver Recreation Centre, March 14, 4 to 5 p.m.

Keremeos Health Centre Conference Room, March 15 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Summerland Library, March 16, 4 to 5 p.m.

Penticton Community Centre, March 18, 11 a.m. to noon.

Workshops are free to attend, RSVP to kimenglish@cfso.net.