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United Way targets Wellesley in bid to expand grants

United Way

The United Way Waterloo Region Communities is offering  community matching grants to eligible residents or community groups in Wellesley to assist with the influx of donation requests to the township.

The program is designed to assist in the building of a  stronger, safer, more engaged community.

Although there is a similar grant available in both the cities of Waterloo and Kitchener this is the first grant available of its kind in the townships.

“This is a direction that the United Way Waterloo Region Communities is seeking to go, investing in the townships lean more locally focused,” said the organization’s Jonathan Massimi. “And I think this grant has opened up a wonderful partnership with United Way and the township that didn’t exist before.”

He said they are starting it in Wellesley, after having a conversation with the township about the amount of requests for donations they had been receiving.

After realising that a majority of the donation requests were targeted towards aiding community groups in putting on local township activities, he offered to step in.

“I suggested, what if United Way provided funding actually to take portions of that off of the townships plates so that the township wouldn’t have to worry about those events falling through because of lack of funding,” he said.

A group of residents or community group at whole is eligible to apply for the up to $500 donation, excluding political groups, businesses, agencies or individual persons.

The grant requirements are that fundings must help improve the quality of life in the community, include opportunities to involve community members in planning and implemention and it must have community support.

In addition to providing your portion back with cash or in-kind, volunteer time can also be applied towards the grant matching formula. The offer is set to encourage groups to invite more volunteers and in turn involve more people locally.

“Our experience when we are working with the cities has been that having this funding available becomes a calling in getting people to think about community events,” he said.

Massimi noted that in terms of the application process they didn’t want it to be onerous, but they just simply wanted to provide access to a maximum of $500 to do something in the community.

“It is almost like seed money to get your idea going,” he said.

So far there has been some interest in the grants, although Massimo says they are hoping to use the information night on September 20 to solidify peoples applications.

“People can ask questions, there will be some information available on the grant and walking people through it because it is a new thing,” he said.

The grants of up to $500 are available throughout the year, with no application deadline, although it is encouraged to get it in sooner than later.

“It is open until the funding is depleted,” he said, noting that there is a total of $5,000 in the pot.

United Way Waterloo Region Communities will be holding the community matching grant information session on Wednesday September 20 from 5-7 p.m. at the Township of Wellesley council chambers in Crosshill. Massimi will be there to answer any questions the public may have pertaining to the grant.

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