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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Rapid response grants enable frontline community services to act

Sixty-three, local frontline not-for-profit organisations will receive grants totalling $570,000 thanks to three Canberra community foundations who set out late last month to help alleviate stress and uncertainty within the community sector caused by COVID-19.

The Chief Minister’s Charitable Fund (administered by Hands Across Canberra), The Snow Foundation and the John James Foundation all joined forces in March to create the rapid response round of grant funding.

After the grant round was announced in late March, it only took three weeks for the funding to be awarded, with payments due to go to recipients in the next few days.

Sixty-three community organisations out of the 100 who applied received funding, with the total spend being $70,000 beyond the initial planned commitment of $500,000.

CEO of The Snow Foundation, Georgina Byron, told Canberra Weekly the idea behind the grant round was to provide small amounts of money to allow frontline community organisations to continue servicing the region in the short term.

“We decided let’s get the money to them now. It’s more of a community reaction so they could keep doing the work they were doing,” she said.

Ms Byron said the funding will be going to not-for-profits working in a full breadth of areas, with focus around disadvantage including: homelessness, domestic violence, youth at risk, elderly people, also Indigenous Australian and Torres Strait Islander groups.

“It’s very much about those experiencing disadvantage … It’s just about covering those simple expenses that we knew they would need to look after immediately.”

Ms Byron said the not-for-profits that will receive funding have all been amazed by how quickly everything has happened.

“We made the announcement, assessed them, then we’ve gone out yesterday and said these are the ones we want to support.

“They were also really worried about their future fundraising … That’s not the end, that’s the beginning, we want to keep listening to these organisations,” she said.

Ms Byron said the foundations all came together and agreed who should work with who based on whether there were existing partnerships, or others that make sense to sit with one organisation.

Canberra Police Community Youth Club (PCYC) CEO Cheryl O’Donnell was chuffed to find out the organisation will receive a $10,000 grant from The Snow Foundation to fund their Virtual PCYC program.

“This was an amazing thing for us to receive. Because of what was going on in the background with the COVID-19 pandemic, we did a lot of work in preparing ourselves to set up online,” she told Canberra Weekly.

“They made it so simple and straightforward for organisations to apply for funding.”

The funding means Canberra PCYC is now able to set some of their clients up with mobile broadband dongles and other technology that will allow them to continue participating in their programs that have had to move online.

“Lots of kids involved with young people as well didn’t have access to laptops or internet … It meant we can provide that ongoing support to the families,” she said.

Ms O’Donnell said Canberra PCYC originally set up their online service to stay in touch with the more than 649 families they’re already linked to.

“Once we started seeing hundreds of thousands of people losing jobs or being stood down … we opened it up to the public as well to provide additional support.

“When you look at increases in domestic violence, mental health issues, and more, having these programs online just means we’re still able to provide that support to those people out there who need it,” she said.

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