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2017 Mini Grants

On June 12th, 2017, Centre Wellington Community Foundation (CWCF) held its sixth annual Community Gathering in Aboyne Hall at Wellington County Museum and Archives. Part of the event was to celebrate the seven projects that received our Mini-Grants this year. Grant recipients shared stories of the impact of their work and how a mini-grant helps contribute to their success. We provided those in attendance with a status update on the growth of our still young Community Foundation. We also talked about how CWCF has participated in the community around Canada 150. This year’s grants were supported by 6 of the Funds held at CWCF: Kate and Margot Community FundCedarcliff Fund, Kath Hammond Literacy Fund, Community Fund, & Middlebrook Community Fund. We are pleased to be able to support a diverse and innovative cross section of projects, highlighting our community at its best.

This year , in order to shed a little extra light on the incredible work our grant recipients do in the community, we highlighted one grant recipient. Jacob, a current staff member and former resident of Portage Ontario, spoke on the impact of Portage and its programs. Jacob explained how the Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Program for youth between the ages of 14-18 helps residents work through the underlying issues that caused their substance abuse and develop a set of social competencies that will help them deal with the challenges of everyday life without resorting to drug abuse. The programs help participants to develop the self-esteem and confidence to move forward to lead healthy, productive, drug-free lives.

This year we had something special to offer for Canada’s 150th anniversary. We partnered with the Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) to offer a matching funding program. CWCF contributed $1,000 and which CFC matched for a total possible grant of $2,000 instead of the regular $1,000 mini grant maximum. The grant recipient had to match (cash or in kind) the amount they received. We had two groups receive Canada 150th Mini Grants this year.

The following are our grant recipients, listed by the Fund supporting the project. We also indicate which areas of priority community need based on our 2015 Vital Signs® Report.

KATE AND MARGOT COMMUNITY FUND:

(Supporting a broad range of charitable activities in which financial grants from the Fund are leveraged by other support, including through significant volunteer commitment, to such charitable activities.)

Organization: Portage – Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Centre for Youth
Project: Community Engagement Program
Vital Signs Priority: Belonging & Leadership

Centre Wellington’s 2015 Vital Signs Report found that Belonging and Leadership are strong aspects of what makes its community so tight-knit. Portage has found that lack of self-worth and belonging are primary reasons why youth turn to drugs. Portage is fortunate to be located in a community where it can run its Community Engagement Program, an integral part of its treatment program. Portage Ontario knows that volunteering helps Portage youth feel they belong! 

When youth volunteer, they not only have a safe place to “hang out”, but feel part of a group and hence, will less likely choose to engage with negative influences. With the help of volunteer mentors and community volunteer activities for Portage residents, barriers faced by our vulnerable youth cease as they gain new skills, build new relationships and gain self-esteem. Together, we are building the foundation for future community-minded and productive citizens.

             CANADA 150 MINI GRANT RECIPIENT

Organization: Elora Environment Centre in partnership with the Communitrees
Project: Native Tree Plantings on the Elora Cataract Trailway
Vital Signs Priority: Belonging & Leadership

Local volunteers with Communitrees working together in groups on this native restoration work will develop a deeper connection and understanding of the importance of community trails in supporting the environment.

We plan to plant, water, mulch and tend 150 new native trees on two sections of the Elora Cataract Trailway. At the same time two trained groups of volunteers, under the leadership of a local biologist, will remove non-native, invasive buckthorn shrubs.

Three goals for this project:

  1. Add sufficient native trees for a demonstrable, environmental change to this naturalized corridor
  2. Remove 150 invasive buckthorn which threatens the native trees
  3. Use the entire process and result as an educational opportunity

Over 50 local volunteers with Communitrees as well as members of the Elora Cataract Trailway Association will be involved. More people in our community will have knowledge of the threat of buckthorn and can identify it and learn correct methods of removal. This project promotes a greater awareness of the critical need to plant native trees in our community and in our yards. All this inspires a deeper understanding of the need to protect intact ecosystems.

CEDARCLIFF FUND:

(Provides funding to develop and maintain arts and culture in Centre Wellington.  Grants may support operating and/or capital costs of organizations located or performing/showing in the Centre Wellington area.) 

Organization: Community Resource Centre of Centre and North Wellington & Elora Writer’s Festival
Project: Author Sponsorship Program
Vital Signs Priority: Arts & Culture & Belonging & Leadership

The goal of Elora Writers’ Festival (EWF) is to promote literacy and appreciation for the written word by providing an annual venue for a diverse sampling of Canadian authors. This festival provides authors an opportunity to expose their body of work to book enthusiasts through an afternoon of intimate readings. The intimate setting of EWF allows attendees to interact directly with authors and other book lovers in a way that larger festivals may not foster.

The festival is run entirely through the efforts of volunteers. On the day of the festival, local high school students are enlisted to help with the event. The students earn credit for community volunteer hours with the added benefit of rubbing shoulders with some of the best contemporary Canadian authors. Our committee comprises literary-oriented people from all walks of life. All of us share a love for the written word and a desire to bring a greater appreciation for all sorts of literature to our community. We always try to present an eclectic sampling of the best in Canadian writing at our festival.

The grant was used to help offset the cost of bringing the notable authors to our community.

Organization: Elora Centre for the Arts
Project: Exhibits in Gallery & Summer Camp
Vital Signs Priority: Arts & Culture & Belonging & Leadership

The grant supports our summer programs which includes developing 5 summer arts camps for children, 1 for adults and a thematic exhibit in our galleries.

Our Oh Canada theme for programs, originally supported by Guelph Community Foundation, will extend into July and August summer camps. All campers will have a chance to view and learn about the gallery exhibits as well as learning new skills in their chosen camp: THE ART OF NATURE, STORYBOOK ART, TUTU In You | Textile Art Adventure, CIRCUS SUMMER CAMP (Guelph’s Youth Circus Project), CANADIAN ART, EH?

The success of ECFTA depends on a high quality of programs and dynamic exhibits that will engage and enrich our Centre Wellington community, and attract visitors to the region.

KATH HAMMOND LITERACY FUND:

(It was established to celebrate the life and passions of Kathie Hammond. Grants from this fund is used to encourage and support children and learning.)

Organization: Strong Start
Project: Letters, Words & Sounds
Vital Signs Priority: Gap between Rich & Poor & Belonging & Leadership

According to research, literacy skills are one of the strongest indicators of a child’s future success in life. The percentage of the population that reads at an acceptable level is a great predictor of the success of a community in maintaining economic growth and an excellent quality of life. Our Letters, Sounds and Words program, which is the subject of this application, helps support this community goal by ensuring young children learn to read.

This program is designed for children ages 5-7 and English language learners up to age 9. It is delivered in schools across multiple regions in Southwestern Ontario, including 2 schools in Centre Wellington. Children are selected by their classroom teacher at the first sign of them lagging in their early literacy skills. These children are paired with trained community volunteers who come into the school to work one-on-one with them, playing carefully designed games and activities. Each volunteer receives four hours of training prior to working with a child for the first time. The games are organized in four strands that help children learn the names of letters, a sound each letter represents, how to recognize words by sight and how to build words using the sounds of its letters. The child will see 2-3 volunteers per week depending on the number of strands they are in, for a 10-week period. Each visit is 30 minutes long. The children’s knowledge is tested before and after the program, documenting gains in their early literacy skills.

As the child progresses through this program, their confidence and self-esteem grow. They see themselves as successful learners. The program also builds community by encouraging those who live and work in the community to be involved in supporting its children.

The grant will be used to help ensure this program is available in Centre Wellington Catholic schools specifically. It costs us approximately $100 to put each child through our Letters, Sounds and Words program. Our request is for $1,000, which will help over 10 children learn to read. The gift will also help ensure caring community members are able to engage in a meaningful volunteer opportunity.

Our Letters, Sounds and Words program helps support the Vital Signs areas of reducing the gap between the rich and the poor and helping foster belonging and leadership in the community. Strong literacy skills are essential in supporting all areas of our life, from reading job applications to prescription labels.

MIDDLEBROOK COMMUNITY FUND:

(The aims to fund a broad spectrum of granting, primarily focused on the local Community. As future strategic granting initiatives emerge, the fund will aim to prioritize around such emerging needs.)

             CANADA 150 MINI GRANT RECIPIENT

Organization: Community Resource Centre of Centre and North Wellington & Bungalow 55
Project: Garden and Culinary Project
Vital Signs Priority: Arts & Culture & Belonging & Leadership 

Bungalow 55 is a focal point for community collaboration and change that supports social innovation. It engages community members in an inclusive way on an ongoing basis through our weekly community luncheons, which are open to everyone. We contribute actively to a vibrant and healthy community by growing good food in our back yard, and we are in the process of turning the front yard into an inviting, food-producing space as well. To create a focal point for this space, and to inspire a deeper understanding of the contributions made by Elora’s citizens in 1867, we will build a commemorative garden at the front of our property. A local stoneworker will work with youth to create a dry stone structure that will act as a raised bed and will have space for seating, as well as a commemorative carved stone. At the completion of this garden feature, the community will be invited to a dinner showcasing food and recipes typical of the 1860’s. Our goal is to demonstrate that urban spaces lend themselves beautifully to food production, as they did in the past. Through the garden we will raise more awareness in the community of what we are doing at Bungalow 55, and we will help socially marginalized community members by providing them with healthy food and expanded opportunities for engagement and interaction.

What is the importance of this project for Canada’s 150th?

One of Elora’s prominent citizens 150 years ago was Charles Clarke, merchant, politician, newspaper founder and editor, and father of Charles Kirk Clarke, after whom the Clarke Institute in Toronto is named. In 1867, Clarke owned the property on which Bungalow 55 stands, and his diary shows that he was an avid gardener and ornithologist. The historical resonance of this fact is not lost on us! We are planting in soil that Clarke may indeed have turned 150 years ago. We would like to honour Clarke by creating a memorial garden at the front of our property. We have already been inspired by his example as we have delved into historical records and discovered that he gardened extensively on our very property, producing a wide variety of food for his family.

COMMUNITY FUND:

(This is our core non-restricted fund which is able to grant to a broad range of worthy causes in our community. As such, this fund is a great choice for those wishing to fund the widest spectrum of community initiatives.)

Organization: Children’s Foundation of Guelph & Wellington
Project: Future Fund Scholarship
Vital Signs Priority: Gap between Rich & Poor

We are applying for $1,000 to provide a Future Fund Scholarship for a student from Centre-Wellington District High School. The Future Fund Scholarship of $1,000 is awarded annually to one student at each high school in Guelph and Wellington County to pursue the post-secondary education of their choice. The students are nominated by the Guidance Department and/or Commencement Committee of each high school. Recipients are selected by educators or social workers who have identified the youth as someone who has overcome adversity to achieve their goal of graduating high school despite unusual educational, family or social challenges.

The Future Fund Scholarship is unique in that the criteria for recipients do not focus on academic standing alone but rather on life achievements and goals in the face of difficult life situations. This is the story of a past recipient who I think exemplifies the type of students who are supported through the Scholarship program. (Note: the name has been changed for privacy reasons)

Samuel came from a low-income family with a single-mother who worked two low paying jobs. He himself worked odd jobs from a young age, and raised enough money to fund his own student exchange program trip. In high school, he worked every day before and after school to earn his own money, working 20 hours per week while balancing time for school and sports. In 2015, his family almost lost their house due to their finances being so bad, and he stepped in to lend his mother the money to keep them afloat.

His father had no faith in him and saw him as a “loser and doubted that he would ever get into university”.   As a young child, this student was isolated and severely bullied, both verbally and physically. In Grade 12, after years of working so hard and living under stressful conditions, Samuel reached the darkest point in his young life. His grades dropped and he began skipping school. He was stressed, felt isolated and alone, and developed a video game addiction that almost cost him his future. He felt despair and saw the world as a gloomy place.

He reached out to his teachers, family, boss, and guidance counsellor for help as he realized that he hated the person he had become and desperately needed help. He “worked with an unbreakable will” to get back on track for his grade 12 do-over year, raised his grades to straight 90’s, and rediscovered his passion for learning. He was accepted into University in a science program.

The Scholarship Program not only provides much-needed financial support for students, but also celebrates their perseverance, resiliency and hard work in overcoming hardships in their life.