Looking to boost its profile in the townships, the United Way of Kitchener-Waterloo and Area has provided Wellesley with $5,000 to help it support community groups.
United Way’s Jonathan Massimi was in Wellesley council last week with a cheque in hand to fund its first community matching grant outside of the cities.
Massimi, the manager of community development, says the group has been very successful with previous community matching grant processes.
“We have a matching grant in Kitchener and another in Waterloo. Wellesley is the first in the townships. We are testing it out, and as we continue our work in the townships, there could be more coming. It is a test run,” he said.
From the $5,000, money is available for community groups such as local Lions or Optimist clubs to apply for in order to enhance current projects or to start new ones. Grants are also available to individuals for the same purposes, but not to social services agencies, however.
“Within their application, they would have to show how this money would be making it better. It is not to simply cover the costs of what they are already doing,” said Massimi.
The move to a United Way presence in Wellesley Township came from an article in the local paper at the end of 2016. During budget deliberations, council was discussing the lack of funds available for donations. There were community groups and agencies asking for more than the township could fund, and the United Way saw an opportunity to lend a hand.
“I asked the township for the breakdown for where money went, and realized that it was just under $5,000. Some was going to the community and the rest was going to agencies, so we thought that we could provide some other kind of financial options there. One of the line items was $69 for the Legion, things like that,” shared Massimi.
The granting process doesn’t end with the initial $5,000, however. Massimi says there are other options available for special projects that go through the community matching grant application process.
“Within our memorandum of understanding with the township, there is also the possibility of more funds for an initiative that goes through the application process,” he said. “If the application aligns with our focus areas and what we would like to see in the townships, then there is an always an alternate there. It is not a guarantee, but there is an open end there.”
The test run on the community matching grant in Wellesley has begun, and Massimi says now, there is only room to grow.
“If we can work with those community groups, get some funds out to enhance, improve, think of new ways of engaging the community, then we can go from there,” he said.
For more information about the grants and to apply, visit www.wellesley.ca.