The Community Foundation of Whistler is accepting grant applications for 2018 programs, and once again this year, it wants to focus on growth, change and belonging in the area.
"In a time of change, it's really important people are connected to one another and have support networks in place, so that's where we're inspired, by what came out of the 2017 Vital Signs plan," said Carol Coffey, CFOW's executive director. "We're encouraging people who are thinking about programming and planning for next year, to think about how they might be able to address that."
In 2017, the CFOW handed out over $220,000 in grants and scholarships, the most they've ever awarded. This included a new Environmental Legacy Fund (ELF) Youth Mentoring Grant to encourage local youth to connect with environmental organizations.
The Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council was one of organizations to receive the first grants of this kind. Though the program was aimed at high-school students, most applications SSISC received came from post-secondary students. Still, they had a successful summer training students in how to identify and report invasive plants, and SSISC plans to run the program again this year.
Along with this new grant, SSISC received its usual backing for on-the-ground inventory and control, as well as education and outreach.
"The CFOW funding is flexible funding, it's not tied to any particular jurisdiction, so it allows us to address gaps in our program, which is really awesome," said Clare Greenberg, SSISC executive director. "It fills our gaps, and allows us to work on invasive animals too."
Not only did it help study and contain invasive animals, the CFOW grant money also helped SSISC to complete projects like restoration at wetlands sites, update its website, and continue signage programs along Highway 99.
"One of the great things about the CFOW is that it's happy to fund ongoing programs," said Greenberg. "It doesn't need us to come up with a new program every year. They're committed to supporting long-term efforts, which is sometimes rare in grant funders."
Get Bear Smart Society, a frequent grant recipient, applied with its new special events human bear conflict mitigation program in 2017. Teaming up with the Wind River Bear Institute, it paired both the Ironman and Whistler Half Marathon events with Karelian Bear Dog teams as a method of reducing the number of human-bear conflicts in outdoor sport.
"We were super excited with the results," said Get Bear Smart Society spokesperson Nicole Fitzgerald. "The project was extremely successful, and we're hopeful that because of its success, that in the future organizations will carry on with a program of this nature."
Each race cost the CFOW $2,100 to have dog teams present. The hope is that local events will continue to use these measures going forward.
"We are so incredibly grateful for these grants," said Fitzgerald. "They enable us to do a better job, they enable us to connect with more people and they enable us to get our message out. Living in bear country, it's very important to be bear smart and that can be very challenging in a transient community. With these grants, the bears are better off."
For projects like these that are funded through the ELF, there is a two-stage application process. This year, a letter of enquiry is due in early February; then if a project is selected, a full grant application will be due in late March, with presentations in April. That two-stage process is also required for those applying to the Community Grants program, the Pemberton and Area Community Grants and the Jill Ackhurst Social Action Grants program.
There are also grants and scholarships available that require just one application. A full list, as well as dates for when submissions are due, is available online at www.whistlerfoundation.com/grantseekers/applying-for-a-grant.