City Considers Reducing Community Grants Funding, Citing Low Quality of Applications

City Council (photo by B Mroz(
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{Local/Currents]

The City of Peterborough is considering withholding some of the money it budgeted to support local non-profits this year.

In February, City Council gave preliminary approval to a recommendation to disburse only a portion of the money allocated for its community grants programs, which fund local non-profits and charities.

While the City’s budget had allocated $21,000 for its Community Project Grants and $230,000 for its Community Investment Grants in 2018, staff recommended only disbursing $14,950 and $208,766, respectively.

The committee that adjudicated the grant applications decided there weren’t enough strong applications to warrant disbursing all the money available this year. The resulting report to Council said the reduction in funding was “reflective of a reduced number of applicants and quality of the applications received.”

Peterborough’s Director of Community Services Ken Doherty said city staff are not planning another round of applications for the remaining funds, so the money will likely be absorbed into a general contingency fund.

“The grant process is a competitive, open, and transparent process,” Doherty added in an email. “The major consideration this year was the quality of the applications.”

Quantity was also an issue. There were significantly less applications made to the program this year than in previous years—almost 50% less. The City’s staff report acknowledged that one reason for this might have been that the deadline in 2017 was two months earlier than in previous years.

The City is encouraging grant applicants who received no funding or reduced funding to seek feedback on their applications and to attend grant orientation sessions next year to increase their chances of receiving their full request.



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The decision to withhold some of the grant money comes as members of Peterborough’s arts community call on the City to increase the budget for community grants. Earlier this year, Electric City Magazine reported that the grants have eroded in value over the past decade due to inflation, and are now worth about 10% less than they were when they were instituted in 2007.

Community Project Grants are small grants ($200 to $1,000) intended for new or informal non-profits to carry out specific projects or special events. 24 groups applied for 2018, and 22 are recommended for funding, though many for about half of what they requested.

Groups that applied for Project Grants this year included the Peterborough chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (to put on monthly social afternoons for people with vision loss), the Kawartha Potters’ Guild (to design a new website), and Seedy Sunday (to host seed saving and gardening workshops). For a full list of Community Project Grant applicants and their recommended level of funding, click here.

Community Investment Grants are available to established non-profits after they have received Project Grants for two years. They are larger ($1,000 to $15,000), and can sometimes be awarded for multiple years at a time. 36 groups applied, and 33 are recommended for funding, with many recommended to receive significantly less than they requested.

This year, applicants for the Community Investment Grants included the Kawartha Youth Orchestra (to support their operations), the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre (to support educational and training initiatives for young men), and B!KE (to help hire a full-time bike instructor and mechanic). For a full list of Community Investment Grant applicants and their recommended level of funding, click here.

The final vote to approve the reduced grant funding will happen at the City Council meeting on March 19, 2018.

 

Cover photo by B Mroz.

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Will Pearson

Will Pearson

quillpearson.com
quillpearson

Will Pearson is a freelance journalist based in Peterborough, Ontario. He has written for a variety of local and national publications, and he is the host of the Peterborough Currents podcast.