Community Centre – The Develop Grant

The first two meetings that have been held (May 25th and June 15th) were specifically intended to initiate the conversation and, primarily, to discuss what the community would like to see on a grant application. This blog post is meant to go over that Grant and the feedback we received from our Professor after submitting the application for grading.

<b>The Develop Grant</b>

The Develop Grant is one of the Vancouver Foundation’s Systems Change grants. This grant is intended to fund the initial design, consultation, and planning process for projects intended to address the root issues of systemic issues.

If funded, the grant is up to $20,000 for up to 1 year for the planning phase of a project. This is divided into up to $10,000 for Project and Administrative Expenses and up to $10,000 for Participation and Community Engagement Expenses.

The Develop Grant does not require matching funding and is intended as a first step in a project planning process.

Once a project is appropriately planned, the Vancouver Foundation has two additional tiers of Systems Change grants that could go towards a project like ours. These are both for up to $100,000 a year for up to 3 years (up to $300,000 total) and require matching funding of 25% and 50%.

One piece to particularly highlight about these grants is that the Vancouver Foundation is particularly interested in funding organizations and projects that pay a living wage to salaried positions and appropriately compensate all who are involved. Since our community is particularly hit hard by wage-gaps, this piece was something that struck me as important and, if built in from the start, could lay the foundation for sustainability.

The Develop Grant is a rolling-application which means that you can submit the application at any point and they are reviewed monthly. There are no hard numbers about how many grants get funded, but a good estimate is that about 50% (half) of the applications that are submitted get funded.

If the application does not get funded, the Vancouver Foundation gives feedback as to why. They will continue to accept your application going forward even when it was initially denied and appreciate seeing it come back with adjustments based on their feedback.

Click here for more information about Systems Change Grants.

<b>Why Did We Do This?</b>

A question that has been brought up at both meetings and outside the meetings is why did we do this. If we weren’t already engaged in the conversation and we weren’t connected with a group who is working on this project, why start a new one?

The opportunity to write this grant application as a graded assignment with feedback was something that I could not pass up. I (Nathan) have been hearing and saying that a Community Centre is needed in Victoria and on the Island for way too long. I had initiated some conversation about starting this project and when the option to write a grant application that could help get it off the ground came up, I couldn’t say no. Even if this particular project goes nowhere, having the graded grant application draft will be helpful down the line.

This was done on such a short timeline because the University summer semester is only 7 weeks long. We had only those two months to initiate the conversation, write the draft, get feedback, and submit the paper for grading. If we had taken our time, we would not have finished our assignment on time.

I’ll discuss this a little bit more in the next blog post. I want to keep the focus on the grant application in this post. ~Nathan

<b>Outcome</b>

My partner and I submitted the Develop Grant application that we had written with community feedback from the two meetings. This included answers to the main questions that are asked on the application, a mock budget, and a literature review that was relevant to the issues of setting up a community centre, having established queer community space, and the needs of the Victoria population.

Overall, we received 83%.

We also received valuable feedback.

Of primary note, and consistently throughout the grant application, our Professor highlighted the fact that we were unclear about the systemic issue that we were attempting to address and that “building a community centre” was not the goal of a Develop Grant. She suggested we rearrange some pieces to truly highlight the systemic issues of isolation and accessibility. She also suggested that instead of focusing on “building a community centre” for this application, we focus on “developing a project plan.” These are relatively easy changes to make, assuming that the application as it stands (covering the key ideas as highlighted in the meeting on June 15th) is what the community wants to submit for funding.

For the sake of our work integrity, and because it has not been submitted to the Vancouver Foundation, I will not be publicly sharing the grant draft or the literature review. ~Nathan

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