Vancouver Foundation launches $4 million Smart & Caring Community Fund
June 4, 2013
Fund to Support Priority Programs Addressing Community Interaction, Youth Homelessness and Environment in metro Vancouver
June 4, 2013 — Vancouver Foundation embraced His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada’s call to build a more “smart and caring” nation by launching a $4 million Smart & Caring Community Fund today to support its priority programs in metro Vancouver focused on connecting and engaging residents at the neighbourhood level, addressing youth homelessness, and helping Vancouver reach its goal of becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020.
The launch of the Smart & Caring Community Fund is Vancouver Foundation’s response to Governor General David Johnston’s challenge to Canada’s 185 community foundations to mobilize citizens, organizations and resources to create a smarter, more caring nation leading up to Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017. In embracing the Governor General’s vision, Vancouver Foundation joins a national movement of community foundations launching Smart & Caring initiatives to improve the quality of life in their respective communities.
“The launch of our Smart & Caring Community Fund really builds upon last year’s Connections and Engagement survey results, which uncovered a growing sense of isolation and loneliness among metro Vancouver residents,” said Faye Wightman, President and CEO of Vancouver Foundation. “Overcoming the indifference and apathy that is pervasive in today’s society can only be achieved if committed and engaged citizens are prepared to take action to create a better future for themselves and their children. It all starts with more caring and involved residents in their own neighbourhoods. This is why we’re focusing on the areas we believe will help metro Vancouver residents bring out the best in their communities.”
“Vancouver Foundation’s ground-breaking work on Connections and Engagement is relevant to communities across Canada,” said Ian Bird, President and CEO of Community Foundations of Canada. “Our national Smart & Caring Communities initiative is a great vehicle to help build stronger bonds between Vancouverites, and I know other community foundations will be watching this announcement with great interest.”
Vancouver Foundation’s Smart and Caring Communities initiative is the culmination of years of community consultation and public outreach starting with its initial Vital Signs report in 2006, evaluating and grading key livability indicators for metro Vancouver, which helped set the stage for the close working relationships established with community volunteers and advisory committee members, various community groups, charitable organizations, and donors. Following a thorough evaluation of the most pressing needs, opportunities and aspirations at the community level, Vancouver Foundation chose to focus its Smart & Caring Community Fund on the following priority areas.
Neighbourhood Small Grants Program: The Neighbourhood Small Grants (NSG) program, connecting and engaging residents at the neighbourhood level, is currently available in 16 communities, with the goal of expanding the program to every municipality in metro Vancouver by 2017. The NSG program provides small grants of up to $1,000 to encourage resident-driven community projects to build caring connections between neighbours. Last year, more than 600 community projects were funded, bringing neighbours together to meet each other, learn new skills or just to have fun. These ranged from straightforward initiatives like community gardens, street parties and movie nights, to more novel engagement approaches such as hosting story-telling, canning and origami workshops.
Youth Homelessness Initiative: Approximately 40 per cent of homeless youth are, or have been at one time, in government care, such as foster care or group homes. Over the next four years, Vancouver Foundation is committed to reducing the rate of homelessness among young people who turn 19 and “age out” of government care. Through its Youth Homelessness Initiative, the Foundation is working to prevent young people from ending up homeless by strengthening community services that support vulnerable youth, engaging young people to identify transition strategies for individuals aging out of care, and raising public awareness about the critical need to invest in solutions that help youth leave the streets behind.
Greenest City Fund: The goal of the Greenest City Fund is to help make Vancouver the greenest city in the world by 2020. A partnership between the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Foundation, the Greenest City Fund comprises three granting programs: Generation Green Grants, which fund youth-led projects; Greenest City Neighbourhood Grants, which fund projects created by Vancouver residents that benefit their neighbourhood; and Greenest City Community Grants, which fund Vancouver projects led by community-based charitable organizations.
“Establishing this Smart & Caring Communities Fund is just a starting point towards building a more vibrant, inclusive and engaged community,” said Wightman. “It takes more than just money to touch the heart of a community and address important social issues. We’re encouraging all Canadians to devote their time, talent and energy to bring people closer together, to shape the community of tomorrow, to make Canada a better place to live, work and grow in 2017.”
About Vancouver Foundation
With almost 1,500 funds and assets totaling $814 million, Vancouver Foundation is Canada’s largest community foundation. In 2012, Vancouver Foundation and its donors made more than 4,000 grants, totaling approximately $46 million to registered charities across Canada. Since it was founded in 1943, Vancouver Foundation, in partnership with its donors, has distributed more than $917 million to thousands of community projects and programs. Grant recipients range from social services to medical research groups, to organizations devoted to arts and culture, the environment, education, children and families, disability supports for employment, youth issues and animal welfare.