There is still time for non-profit organizations, charities and municipalities in Rocky View County (RVC) to apply for Alberta Blue Cross's COVID Community Roots Program.
According to Rebecca Smillie, a community impact manager with the healthcare provider, the grant funding initiative is Alberta Blue Cross’s way of supporting rural, remote, First Nation and Métis communities as they maneuver through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We appreciate and understand that these communities are facing special barriers when it comes to programming, especially grassroots, community-led programming,” she said. “We’re providing funding up to $5,000 for [organizations] across the province for grassroots, community-led, community-organized programming.”
The program kicked off in late March and has been in place for most of the pandemic, according to Smillie. Since then, roughly $140,000 has been disbursed to 28 initiatives throughout the province, she said, with grants ranging from $750 to $5,000. She said $200,000 was allocated to the program from Alberta Blue Cross’s community foundation, and funding is distributed every other week. The grants will be disbursed until either the end of 2020 or the funding is depleted.
Eligible candidates include non-profit organizations, charities, municipalities, First Nations communities and Métis settlements. According to ab.bluecross.ca, initiatives must address the "mental, physical, social or emotional well-being of those most affected by COVID-19."
Recipients to date include the Fort McKay Women’s Association, which received funding to purchase sports equipment, tables, chairs, hand sanitizer and gloves to eliminate sharing equipment during its summer recreation programs for kids; Building Brains Together, a charity in Lethbridge that provides mental health programs for newcomers and refugees; and the Boys and Girls Club of Leduc, which received funding to install acrylic barriers, social distancing markers, signage and sanitation stations.
Municipalities have also received funding – the Town of Westlock received support to cover expenses for a program to conduct wellness calls, visits and grocery deliveries to isolated rural seniors.
“A lot of funding now is focused on Edmonton and Calgary, so we wanted to look outside those two cities,” Smillie said.
While Alberta Blue Cross has received more than 100 applications, Smillie said none of the applicants have been from RVC. With that in mind, she encourages non-profits, municipalities and other groups from the region to apply.
“We are in the final rounds,” she said. “We have $60,000 left, so we want rural and remote communities to be aware that funding is open to them,” she said. “I think we’re really looking to communities for what they need.”
Prospective applicants can find more information about the program and apply on the Alberta Blue Cross website at ab.bluecross.ca/aboutus/community-roots.php