Carolling by canoe on Cusheon Lake, the Firefly Lantern Festival, public pianos, Earth Day in Centennial Park, Art Jam, and a neighbourhood potluck party on Park Drive. What do all of these have in common?
They are all colourful and joyful expressions of Salt Spring culture, local projects and events run by people who are passionate about giving back to the community and who have seen a need to encourage social connections in order to make Salt Spring a better place.
To encourage and foster more of these wonderful events, the Foundation, in partnership with Salt Spring Island Community Services, is pleased to announce the launch of Neighbourhood Small Grants, which offers grants of $50 to $500 to support projects that bring people together, share skills and knowledge, build a sense of belonging and responsibility, and respect and celebrate diversity. The Foundation wants to hear from islanders who have a great idea for a project or event to promote community belonging.
Unlike regular Foundation grants, which can only be awarded to registered charities, Neighbourhood Small Grants are intended for individuals. Grant applications will be reviewed by a committee of local citizens from diverse backgrounds and experiences. The deadline for applications is October 31, and projects must be undertaken between November 2018 and March 2019.
Neighbourhood Small Grants were first offered by the Vancouver Foundation in an effort to combat isolation in city neighbourhoods. The Vancouver Foundation is supporting the expansion of the program to the Vancouver Island area, where the Salt Spring Island Foundation will be working with the Victoria Foundation and Clayoquot Biosphere Trust.
The Foundation’s 2017 VitalSigns® report for Salt Spring showed that we generally score well on community belonging, but that some of us feel isolated due to the island’s geography. It is well established that community engagement and a sense of belonging both have positive health outcomes while helping to build community resilience and understanding.
Foundation chair Kees Ruurs welcomes this exciting new project. “We believe that Neighbourhood Small Grants is a great fit for Salt Spring’s combination of traditional geographic neighbourhoods and other ‘neighbourhoods’ of shared interests, activities and identity that all help us feel more connected to our fellow islanders.”
Jody Hawley, Board chair of Salt Spring Island Community Services, is also enthusiastic about the program. “Community Services is pleased to partner with the Foundation in bringing Neighbourhood Small Grants to Salt Spring. It’s a simple but powerful way to celebrate our diversity and enhance our community strength and resilience.”