Following the enormous success of its Rapid Relief Fund campaign, the Victoria Foundation has partnered with United Way Greater Victoria to provide $1.6 million in grants to local non-profits. The funds will benefit charities whose work is vital in supporting those made vulnerable by COVID-19.
A total of 60 grants will help organizations across the Capital Region District, the Gulf Islands and north to Cowichan thanks to funding received from The Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF).
A grant call in May 2020 asked local charities to submit proposals to receive funding for a variety of purposes, including to cover staffing and/or emerging needs especially related to transitioning to digital services and platforms. A collaborative community review panel between United Way and Victoria Foundation sifted through over 120 applications to determine feasibility and need.
Out of the 60 grants approved, 11 programs were co-funded by United Way and Victoria Foundation.
One is the Island Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centre Association, which received support to safely re-open and deliver hearing health services including hearing aids to people whose social isolation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.
Another is the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, which received support to access technology to help transition to virtual programming for staff working with at risk children and youth. They also got funding to fill food hampers for vulnerable Indigenous elders and families. Executive Director Ron Rice says “our staff all breathed a sigh of relief when they got the news…this has a huge impact on our bottom line. We could not do all that we do without support from funders, nor could we continue to provide the services we do to urban Indigenous families, Elders, the disabled and the disenfranchised.”
Other grants being allocated include digitizing an opera performance and bringing it to schools alongside curriculum aid, haircuts for women to help them feel more confident during a job interview through a subsidy to the salon, an intergenerational support program that matches Indigenous youth with vulnerable elders and a free online literary festival.
The Government of Canada announced a $350 Million Emergency Community Support Fund on April 21, 2020. The fund was administered across the country in partnership with United Way Centraide Canada, Community Foundations of Canada and the Canadian Red Cross.
Mark Breslauer, CEO, United Way Greater Victoria says “our focus is razor sharp: to help our community get through COVID-19, as we recover and rebuild. One of our main goals is to support the not-for-profit sector as it pivots to meet changing community needs and service delivery models. The creativity and resiliency we observed through the grant submissions was inspiring. We are grateful for the federal government’s funding and we thank them for entrusting in us to get the job done.”
Victoria Foundation CEO Sandra Richardson says “the funding provided via these grants will help to mitigate the devastating impacts the pandemic has had on the sector and the vulnerable populations they serve… We look forward to continuing to work towards ensuring our community comes out of this crisis stronger, healthier and more resilient.”