The Rising Youth program is empowering young people to lead their own community initiatives by offering micro-grants until March 2020.

The program kicked off this year and is already funding community projects across the country with $250, $750, and $1,500 grants.

Students from the Deh Gáh School in Fort Providence used a Rising Youth grant to decorate their gymnasium and host a community dinner to celebrate the 2018 graduates. Instagram photo

It hopes provide stepping stone opportunities for creative community projects that can flourish with small investments, said coordinator Anusa Sivalingam.

“We want it to be open ended and for the ideas to come from youth,” she said, adding that youth have a better pulse on what gaps exist in their communities, said Sivalingam.

Projects that come from a community are also more likely to align with their needs, she said.

“There’s a lot of interest, right now, from the federal government to support youth programming,” she said.

Many previous government programs focused on experiences like summer camps and other programs, but “Taking IT global wanted to focus on bringing money back into communities and supporting youth at home,” she said.

The grant program is open to anyone aged 15 to 30 to set up a community oriented volunteer project to, “address a gap or something they think is missing,” said Sivalingam.

The project runs until March 2020 and applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

“Volunteerism isn’t just what we considered it before. It could be organizing activities for youth who don’t have money or resources,” she said.

Some examples of trips include a hunting excursion, support for cultural programming, or even events where youth can come together to have fun – a grant request that usually would not be filled under other programs, said Sivalingam.

Over Pride weekend, one youth proposed an alcohol-free event as an alternative to the show at a liquor-licensed venue, she said.

“It’s providing something that’s missing in a community,” said Sivalingam.

“It’s meant to be grassroots and they’re microgrants. It’s a good kicking-off point for people who might not be comfortable managing a large amount of money,” said Sivalingam.

The grants don’t limit partnerships with other organizations, nor do they prevent applicants from applying for additional funding elsewhere.

The funding is available to Canadian citizens, permanent residents or people granted refugee status.

Smaller grants are an opportunity for youth looking to get into community service, especially those who might not have the funds to do so, she said.

There is still a reporting component, albeit a simple one at the end, said Sivalingam.

Community buy-in and relevance is also important to the success of a grant application.

“It’s showing that you have buy-in or knowledge so that a program isn’t imposed without understanding or a connection,” she said.

“It’s making sure that the support is coming from the community itself so that we’re uplifting people and meeting their priorities,” said Sivalingam.

Avery Zingel

Avery Zingel is a reporter and photographer in Yellowknife, regularly covering environment, health and territorial politics. Avery is a graduate of the Carleton University School of Journalism and Political...

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