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Funding coming to arts and BIPOC organizations

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The holiday season came a little early for 36 local arts organizations and organizations serving Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC), as they are set to receive funding from the Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation (KWCF). The $421,000 will be coming through two funds, the COVID-19 Arts Sustainability and Recovery Fund – a one-time initiative to support small and medium organizations – worth $250,000, and the COVID-19 BIPOC Sustainability and Recovery Fund – a pilot initiative designed to provide funding to BIPOC organizations within the region – worth $171,000.

The funds created earlier this year had applications open from October 28 to November 18, for eligible organizations under both categories to apply for grants. Several fund-holders and donors allocated money to increase the amounts available to distribute – with $25,000 coming from Green Shield Canada and $10,000 from Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (for the BIPOC fund) – the rest coming from money set aside by KWCF.

In both instances, volunteer committees were formed with people from each associated community to develop granting guidelines, in addition to reviewing applications and recommending funding allocations.

Elizabeth Heald, president and CEO of KWCF, says these funds were created after doing research with charitable partners to look into the needs of organizations and groups within the community.

“When COVID-19 hit our community, we had done some research with our charitable partners. Just a really brief survey to understand their needs and find out the needs of the charities and the needs of the populations that they were supporting,” said Heald. “As the year progressed, we continued to monitor the situation in the community and we saw that there were two groups that typically weren’t getting access to some of the other funding that was available. And those were arts organizations that were being hit hard, particularly those with revenue that was generated through ticketed events. … And then at the same time we recognized that Black, Indigenous, and people of colour communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The pandemic has really revealed the inequities and disparities across Waterloo Region, so our board and staff felt that it was critical to accelerate our commitment to the elimination of racism and opening up a new grant stream to direct resources to support BIPOC individuals in our community in a more focused way.”

In Woolwich Township, there are two BIPOC organizations that will receive funding to do work within the community. Bring on the Sunshine and Lion’s Mane Ministry each received $10,000 from the fund to take on two different projects.

Heald says Bring on the Sunshine will use their funding to give local black youth the chance to run an online festival, allowing them to showcase their artistic skills and culture. Meanwhile, Lion’s Mane Ministry will use their funding to provide winter clothing to new racialized Canadians and provide online workshops with cultural activities connecting people within the community.

Now that 2021 has begun, KWCF will soon start to look at their previous year and decide what streams of funding will be available to organizations within the community – and how much will be available to them.

Heald says in the spring KWCF will be able to determine how much funding is available, they will then be able to determine what streams can be created and where the funding can be most useful within the community.

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