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United Way to extend grant-matching project to Wellesley Township

United Way to extend grant-matching project to Wellesley Township

Community groups in Wellesley Township could be on the receiving end of some new funding, if they’re willing to match what they’re given.

United Way community development manager Jonathan Massimi presented a proposal to council on Tuesday to bring their community matching grant initiative to Wellesley Township as a pilot project.

He explained on Saturday, Apr. 1, United Way KW & Area and United Way Cambridge North Dumfries are combining to form United Way Waterloo Communities. With this transition to a new organization there’s going to be an emphasis on the “hyper-local.”

They’ve already started a similar project, the neighbourhood matching grant, in Waterloo and Kitchener.

“United Way’s commitment to the Township of Wellesley would be $5,000, and out of that $5,000 community groups could ask for up to $500 providing they match that amount. The way they could match it is either through fundraising, through volunteer hours, and we calculate volunteer hours at $16.05 an hour because that’s the liveable wage within the region, or in-kind,” Massimi said.

Applications will be received once a year and they’re working on a memorandum of understanding right now.

Wellesley is the first rural township they’ve approached about this and they plan to approach the rest in the future.

“The reason why we approach communities with this idea of matching grants is we’re not just giving out money. We’re inviting people into partnerships,” Massimi said.

Coun. Peter van der Maas asked if individuals would be eligible for the grants if they want to open a little market or business.

Massimi said individuals are not eligible. They also won’t fund political groups, private businesses or government agencies. Funds won’t be given for ongoing services, operating budgets, projects that conflict with existing township or United Way policies, or financial commitments made before the grant is awarded.

Applicants must demonstrate support from the community for their project.

“Let’s say that there was a group in one of the settlement areas that was interested in organizing a seasonal market and they themselves were not retaining any profit, they were strictly a volunteer group, but the individual businesses who attended the market would be. Would that kind of an organization be a candidate for receiving some funding?” asked Coun. van der Maas.

Massimi explained it would depend on what the market was doing. It may be eligible if it were providing cooking lessons to youth, or something else community-minded.

“The fund is not a slush fund. The intention is to build community and connection between individuals,” Massimi said.

They’re also open to expanding and adapting their In Community initiative for the township. They’ve launched it in the cities, and it works through a community connector, a person who talks to people in the community to find out what they’re looking for in their community and then brings it back to the United Way.

Massimi notes the grant can be a great catalyst for change.

“I understand that there’s some long-time established initiatives within the township. And sometimes when that occurs you have either an aging volunteer base, sometimes events get into a rut, so we’re hoping that this can encourage some new ideas, the possibility of attracting new volunteers, so that future generations can enjoy some of the events and some new initiatives can get off the ground.”

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