Community Foundation partners to help charities with funding for pandemic

Delphine Melchert of the Prince Albert and Area Community Foundation.

The Prince Albert and Area Community Foundation will be providing support for the many local charities responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The foundation is part of a new partnership with Community Foundations of Canada, United Way Canada and the Canadian Red Cross, funded through the Government of Canada’s $350 Million Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF).

This vast national effort aims to support vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by COVID-19 the Foundation is among some 150 local community foundations across Canada that are taking part.

The foundation will be accepting applications through both streams of available funding – Community Foundations of Canada and the United Way.

Marilyn Peterson, executive director of the Prince Albert and Area Community Foundation is expecting a significant reaction.

“I am expecting a huge response. I am looking at the region, the city and surrounding region. Now they are able to access information and some resources, they know what is in the community, they know how to work in it. So we should be able to handle those requests fairly well,” she said.

They will also be covering a wider region.

“It is some of the larger region that is going to take some time and thought on our part to do it effectively. You have to be thinking well they are going to northern Saskatchewan and then we are looking towards the Melfort area. It is a much wider region and we are expected to make sure that these rural and remote areas also have a chance to access this funding.”

In a release, she said that the charities and non-profit organizations have been working hard throughout this crisis to get support to those in need. She added that the additional funding is a much-needed boost to their efforts. They want the funds to flow quickly to ensure no one in the community is left behind.

The Emergency Community Support Fund was initially announced on April 21 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It is part of a broad series of emergency response measures by the Government of Canada.

“The Government of Canada is providing us with the resources at the top and then the three main intermediaries being the Canadian Red Cross, United Way and Community Foundations,” Peterson said.

The three separate streams of funding have been set up so that organizations can apply to each if they provide different types of services.

“I know that is going to be confusing and going to be a bit of a headache but we will sort it out.”

The Prince Albert Community Foundation is in a unique situation, as they handle United Way fund disbursement for the region as there is no office in Prince Albert.

She explained that needs have changed in the community and may continue to evolve because of the pandemic and how to best serve vulnerable populations.

According to Peterson, the goal will be to make up deficiencies that have resulted because of the pandemic, including sports and recreation disappearing for the summer and the fall.

Peterson explained that they are going to the community to see what is needed from those who deal with the people every day.

“It is the frontline workers, the people out there doing the one-to-one, the counsellors, the service workers et cetera — many of them just coming back to work now — that are going to be able to talk to the affected people and all of the groups and ask them what has changed and where you think we should be to have an effective life here,” she said.

The ECSF has simple eligibility criteria, a quick application process and streamlined reporting procedures.

Many different types of projects are eligible for funding. Registered charities and other “qualified donees” can apply through community foundations for projects that address a well-being need caused by COVID-19, serve one or more vulnerable groups such as seniors, persons with disabilities, veterans, newcomers, refugees, women, children and youth, LGBTQ2 people, Indigenous people and racialized people, such as Black Canadians and others and will be completed before March 31, 2021.

Eligible projects included increased staffing and supplies at a shelter for women and children fleeing violence; food supplies for First Nations members living on-reserve, where supplies and delivery are interrupted; equipment for a food bank to accommodate rise in food orders; technology enabling seniors in-residence to connect with their families virtually and preparing and delivering food for persons with disabilities.

Community foundations are working with United Way Canada and the Canadian Red Cross to distribute the ECSF. You can only receive ECSF funding from one organization for the same project costs. The important part is to apply online.

“The applications have to be made online they cannot be mailed to me or dropped in a mailbox but it is a simple application,” Peterson said.

The P.A. Community Foundation website has been down but Peterson expects it to be up by the weekend.

“It is simple, it is easy and they can always give a call — I am never far away,” Peterson said.

If you have a project that matches these criteria the application is designed to be straightforward and efficient. Applications will be received and assessed on a weekly rolling basis, so that you can get an answer as soon as possible. The final closing date to submit an application will be July 27.

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