The deadline for the Vancouver Foundation’s Neighbourhood Small Grants is fast approaching. You have until April 9 to take advantage of this growing program. Each year many locals take advantage of the $50 – $500 grants given to fund community initiatives.

Kathy Rothnie at an Evelyn Park Canada 150 celebration last summer

“The goal is about connecting and engaging the community,” said Tricia Alsop, of the North Shore Neighbourhood House which oversees the program in North Vancouver. “Community doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. It doesn’t need to be a project with your neighbours. Last year we gave out about 80 grants.”

Since 2011 the North Shore has been apart of the Vancouver Foundation’s Neighbourhood Small Grants program. The grants are given to projects that bring people together, share skills and knowledge, build a sense of belonging, responsibility, and respect and celebrate diversity, according to the Foundation.

“We had hosted a block party – a potluck kind of party the first year we moved here,” said Lynn Valley’s Shannon Samler, a recipient of a 2017 grant. “Someone told us about these grants so we thought – why not [apply]? It was very easy to do.”

Easy access

“The goal is to make it available to everyone,” said Tricia Alsop. “The application is online but we also have paper applications. If people need help, we can help them work through it. It is supposed to be easy.”

For most projects the most labour-intensive piece is creating a budget.

“It’s a simple process,” said Samler. “Putting together the budget help me think about what I wanted to do. We wanted to take on the responsibility of the main course part of the food and provide a few extras – like face painting.”

The Samlers’ block party was one of a handful in Lynn Valley last year funded by the grants and is a typical project that the Foundation funds.

Other projects on the North Shore included gardening, food, beekeeping, emergency preparedness and craft workshops, invasive weed pulls, intergenerational programs, Little Free Libraries and others.

“It was a great way to meet people,” said Samler. “We learned the names of people we see – not just families with kids that same age as ours. We were able to set up a neighbourhood email list to connect and share concerns.”

Lasting impacts

Samler says the – now annual – event has fostered a more open neighbourhood. Sometimes the grants are what give legs to an idea, said Alsop.

“The grants can help give people the initiative to get started on an idea they have always had,” she said. “We see lasting relationships grow out of the projects – sometimes they can be a help with conflict resolution by bringing people together.”

Organizers welcome more applicants

“We would like to see some new people with new ideas,” said Alsop. “If it fits, there is a good chance they will get the grant.”

The deadline for applications is April 9th. For more information or help with applications contact the North Shore Neighbourhood House at 604-987-8138.