Neighbourhood grants still available

If you missed the deadline to apply for a Neighbourhood Small Grant, you’ve now got a second chance to get your paperwork in.

If you missed the deadline to apply for a Neighbourhood Small Grant, you’ve now got a second chance to get your paperwork in.

The program, run locally through the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen, offers grants of up to $500 for projects and initiatives to bring neighbourhoods together with ideas that are “big enough to matter, small enough to do.”

In late July, the CFSOS found itself in an unusual position, with more grants to give out than they had applicants. Kim English, the program co-ordinator, said they decided to extend the deadline to Aug. 31 and give potential applicants another month after deciding that having the application process over the summer might not be giving enough time.

“We are getting lots of applications,” she said. “Lots of really interesting, thoughtful ideas.”

The Neighbourhood Small Grants has been in operation in Vancouver for several years under the auspices of the Vancouver Foundation, and this year it is expanding to the South Okanagan, with $20,000 to hand out. A total of $20,000 might not seem like a lot of cash, but at with each grant limited to $500, the CFSO can give out 40 grants. Rather than charities and service organizations, these grants are aimed at building community at the neighbourhood and individual level.

“We are going to be granting to individuals who care about their neighbourhood and want to do something to build connections between neighbours,” said Aaron McRann, CFSOS executive director.

In other communities, initiatives have included free yoga sessions, a multicultural potluck and a Muslim fashion show and burkha parade or activities as simple as a block party, a neighbourhood cleanup campaign or planting trees.

When people feel a sense of connection to their neighbourhood, McRann said, that sense of belonging means they are more likely to engage in activities that make it abetter place to live.

“Meeting and connecting with our neighbours is an incredibly powerful way to build caring communities,” he said.

To apply, visit the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan at www.cfso.net/neighbourhood-small-grants. The extended deadline closes Aug. 31; awarded applicants will be contacted by the end of September and will have until Dec. 15 to hold their event.

The Neighbourhood Small Grants program is a partnership between the CFSO and the City of Penticton, which are each contributing $5,000, and the Vancouver Foundation, which has matched those funds with a $10,000 contribution.