The United Way NWT has announced that 20 non-profit organizations will receive their annual grants. This year the Yellowknife Women’s Society has been awarded $45,000 over three years as a part of the United Way NWT’s multi-year funding for a court outreach support program.
Bree Denning, executive director of women’s society says the new program will assist vulnerable or marginalized people to attend court dates and navigate the system.
“People might not realize how little support people actually get when it comes to understanding court, attending court and how much time is wasted in criminal court because people don’t show up,” said Denning. “A lot of the people we will work with face a lot of challenges like substance use issues, health concerns, a lack of housing and these challenges make it difficult to keep appointments.”
This multi-year funding will support one part time employee who will have an intimate knowledge of the court system and the community. The employee will take a hands on approach to reaching out to try and improve attendance and distributing information to those who need it most.
“This person will have an understanding of the court system and the community and will connect people with their lawyers or going out to the areas they frequent and make a good case for that individual to attend,” said Denning.
Ideally this program will result in less wasted time, and money, in the legal system.
“Those who need to go to court will get there and those people will be less impacted by long waits,” she said. “We will do our part to make sure people’s time isn’t being wasted and people aren’t getting into more trouble by not showing.”
A multitude of other programs
Other non-profits will receive $7,500 in funding to run specific programs. Ecology North received its funding to continue running a garden building program for schools in Yellowknife.
“Its our focus to teach kids about food security in the North and incorporate their curriculum into it,” said Emma Ambury, an environmental education program officer with Ecology North. “Our programs incorporate math, science and literacy into practical gardening skills. The kids continually learn about something they can apply to their every day life and since we built our first garden in 2011, the response has been pretty positive.”
Ecology North runs skills based programming and builds and maintains gardening spaces, continuously working with schools.
“This funding is extremely important and we couldn’t operate without it,” said Ambury. “We’re always hoping to expand to reach as many kids as possible and support from charitable organizations make that a reality.”
United Way NWT also supports programming with the Food First Foundation. With the 2019 funding from United Way NWT, the foundation will be running a program to donate desperately needed cooking equipment to schools.
“Some may need something as simple as a cutting board or muffin tin, but other schools may have gone for a year without a fridge,” said Tess Ondrack, co-ordinator of the Food First Foundation.
Ondrack says the funding will help schools feed students who may come from families in need through breakfast, snack and lunch programs.
“Its so important to be able to provide meal programs to kids from food insecure homes,” said Ondrack. “They need an outfitted kitchen to do that, so the funding we receive from United Way NWT is essential.”
Other organizations funded by the United Way NWT this year include the Inuvik Homeless Shelter Advisory Board, Inuvik Food Bank, NWT Breast Health/Breast Cancer Action Group and Hay River Soup Kitchen among several others.
United Way NWT
These grants are made possible from the pledges and donations of community members, businesses and organizations during the United Way’s annual campaign.
For over 20 years United Way NWT has been fundraising for pan-territorial causes. In past years it was only able to award sums as low as $50,000 but it will be giving out $160,000 this year, said Tracy St. Denis, chair of the United Way NWT.
“We attribute a lot of that to the awareness being raised in the territory,” she said. “Every year when we are able to give to these organizations, we get to tell their story and show the work that they do.”
“These organizations do a lot of front line work, directly helping people in communities,” said St. Denis. “For example, the NWT Breast Health has done a lot of good outreach with cancer survivors in Fort Good Hope and Fort Smith. But our applicants can operate anywhere in the NWT. Any non-for profit working in the territory can apply for funding.”
Applications are accepted every year in November and St. Denis said the application process is fairly streamlined so it is not burdensome to the organizations.
“The variety of applications we receive really demonstrate the variety of needs people in the territory have,” said St. Denis. “We’re proud to able to tell the stories about their impact every year.”