Nicola Valley residents are eligible to apply for a regional grant that looks to increase neighbourly connections in a variety of community driven ways.

Neighbourhood Small Grants (NSG) is a non-profit organization, funded and supported by the Vancouver Foundation, that distributes small grants throughout the province in an attempt to create more social connections in communities across B.C.

“The grant can be anywhere between $50 to $500, and individual people can apply for this grant to create an event or provide an opportunity for themselves and their neighbours to connect with each other,” said Yunuen Perez-Vertti, NSG’s coordinator for emerging communities.

“How people connect with each other and what builds community is really up to the person and the community itself.”

The small grant program started in the Vancouver area in 1999 after the Vancouver Foundations identified a need to create connections between neighbours and communities in a grassroots way, following research that showed isolation was becoming a concern. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, NSG was expanded to cover the whole province. 

Perez-Vertti said neighbourhood block parties, information sharing sessions, bringing in experts for talks, little free libraries, and anything that builds connections between neighbours are all eligible for funding. Past NSG supported projects in Merritt include the seed exchange program at the community garden, a Canford Avenue cleanup effort,  last year’s Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo weekend street market revival, and a recent vermicomposting workshop.

The grants are available to any individual, regardless of age or immigration status, and the application process is hassle-free.

“We pride ourselves on the fact that this is one of the most accessible grants,” added Perez-Vertti. “A nine year-old to a 99 year-old should be able to fill out our application, and the process should be pretty easy.”

The online application process asks applicants to describe their idea for their event or initiative, and give a sample budget. Perez-Vertti said help with the application process is always available, including applications in Punjabi, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Tagalong, and Spanish. 

Once the applicable application period closes, applications are reviewed by a committee of local and regional residents. Merritt is a part of NSG’s Thompson-Cariboo region, which includes the Nicola Valley, Kamloops, Revelstoke, and areas in between.

“Decisions of who gets the grants are made at the local level by a Neighbourhood Small Grant committee composed of residents of the communities in the region,” added Perez-Vertti. “This year, our committee has two members who reside in Merritt. One has been a committee member for three years, and the other joined this year.”

Applications for NSG’s current funding cycle will be open from Sept. 7th to Oct. 12th, although funding is limited and spread between communities, so applications could close early. 

For more information on NSG, visit www.neighbourhoodsmallgrants.ca, or email Perez-Vertti at [email protected].