$75,000 adds spark to local affordability initiatives 

 

The Victoria Foundation believes in the power of conversations to build relationships that lead to solutions. On June 22, 2023, the Victoria Foundation in partnership with Coast Capital brought together more than 50 leaders from various sectors for a Vital Conversation on where, and how, our local communities have agency and opportunities to make life more affordable. While this Vital Conversation was an important start, it takes more than conversation to create lasting change. For this reason, the Victoria Foundation launched the Spark Funds. 

Registered charities and qualified donees in the capital region were invited to apply to the Spark Funds in June 2023. This special grant supports exploring solutions and cross-sector collaborations that focus on creating an affordable community for all. From food security and farming sustainability to housing affordability and asset mapping, the funds will help spark life to a range of projects. 

$75,000 in funding was distributed in $5,000, $10,000, and $15,000 increments to 7 initiatives. We’d like to give a special thank you to Coast Capital for contributing $20,000 in support of two projects. 

2023 Spark Funds Recipients

  • Victoria Community Food Hub

    $15,000 – Collaboration & Multi-solve: This application builds on previous support from the Victoria Foundation and contributes to affordable food access by developing long term sustainability for Farm Bucks program, which subsidizes the cost of locally produced food for those unable to afford it. Multi-solve in that it keeps farmers employed with fair payment for produce while providing families with affordable access to highly nutritious local produce. A distinctive element of this proposal is to bring together community food assistance providers to explore ways of sharing assets, to decrease costs and minimize competition for funding.

  • Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria

    $15,000 – Community Convening: Conference and dialogue series around housing affordability for the capital region, bringing together local municipal staff and councilors, banking/finance, non-profit housing providers, developers, and relevant community organizations for solutions focused discussions culminating in ‘next steps’ planning. Focus on creating affordable home access and ownership through municipal policy, financing, and development.

  • Saanich Volunteer Services Society

    $5,000 – Scaling multi-solve Pilot: A pilot exploring potential of cross sector partnering between a volunteer senior focused support agency with a for-profit company selling home healthy meal delivery. Saanich Volunteer Services is seeking to increase affordable healthy food access and social connection for local seniors facing isolation and food insecurity. Pilot of partnership will also provide opportunity to test scalability and cost effectiveness of non-profits senior services though such a partnership to serve fast growing population of seniors at risk.

  • Scale Institute Society

    $15,000 – Community Owned Asset Mapping: Map and create a comprehensive visual picture of community-owned (non-profit and municipal) land, buildings, and real estate in the Greater Victoria region. Thereby allowing the identification of community-owned assets that may be under-utilized and/or at risk of privatization. By identifying existing assets, these can potentially be knit together in new ways when developing strategies to address affordability issues locally, and additionally prioritize the retention of community owned assets at the risk of privatization. This work is in partnership with the University of Victoria.

  • Saanich Legacy Foundation

    $5,000 – Community Convening: Funds will be used to catalyze and co-manage a multi-year, multi-modal series of conversations that engage First Nations and general populace on the future of our shared bioregion. Conversations will be rooted in the story of this place and the multiple challenges we face globally and locally, particularly the growing ecological challenges and how they relate to inequality and unaffordability. The discussions will focus on systems transformation rooted in the limits of the planet and ecologically sustainable living that can potentially increase affordability.

Coast Capital Spark Fund Recipients

  • University of Victoria (Indigenous Asset Mapping Project)

    $15,000 – Indigenous Community Asset Mapping: Community asset mapping of the South Island region will be a powerful storytelling tool to gain understanding of Indigenous businesses, First Nation (FN) communities and their economic activities. This type of mapping has not been done in this area and it will provide Nations with a tool to track existing assets while determining future priorities and optimizing operations, including collaborations and development. This work will provide critical information and accounting of Indigenous owned assets as foundational information in the development of innovative affordability strategies for local Indigenous communities. This work is in partnership with the Indigenous Prosperity Centre (South Island Prosperity Partnership.) 

  • Saanich Volunteer Services Society

    $5,000 – Affordability Literacy Series: A bi-weekly community gathering series for the elderly held at local community and private venues in the area. Focus of the gatherings is providing expert guidance on topics related to affordability. This may include, but is not limited to, budgeting, reverse mortgages, managing utility costs, financial advice, accessing government social programs, and affordable housing options including co-housing. Transportation and food provided for participants. This initiative provides access to social connection and critical finance/affordability information unique to seniors to help them navigate the changes in economy and financial management. 

2022/2023 Vital Conversation Series

The Victoria Foundation held a series of Vital Conversations following the release of Victoria’s 2022 Vital Signs report with a focus on envisioning an affordable community for all. Our Vital Conversation series is held in partnership with Coast Capital.  

The theme was selected due to cost of living and housing being identified as the top issues in the capital region, and the housing issue area receiving the first failing grade in Victoria’s Vital Signs history. Secondary data in the Vital Signs report and on the Vital Victoria data platform also indicate challenges with affordability. 

The first Vital Conversation in the series was a panel discussion at the South Island Prosperity Partnership’s 2022 Rising Economies Conference. A summary of the discussion from November 16, 2022, is available on our Pulse blog 

The second was an in-person discussion with over 50 community leaders to identify areas as a community that we have agency, control, and influence to collaborate and innovate. Some of the key themes that arose from that conversation include: 

  • Mapping, linking, and sharing local assets and resources in new ways
  • Building collaborative structures for partnerships across sectors
  • Shifting mindsets on affordability (and ways to address it) through communications and story sharing
  • Convening different sectors to build and act on creative affordability solutions together
  • Taking an abundance mentality approach to solution development, rather than scarcity
  • Working together to examine, shift, navigate, and/or remove policy barriers and create supportive policy conditions for local affordability solutions.

View the Vital Conversation Digital Report for more details about this series. 

Spark Funds Submission Guidelines

View the Spark Funds submission guidelines here or in the tabs below. Please note that we are no longer accepting any Spark Funds applications and that funds were distributed in the summer of 2023. 

  • Overview

    The Victoria Foundation believes in the power of conversations to build relationships that lead to solutions. On June 22, 2023, we brought together more than 50 leaders from various sectors for a Vital Conversation to explore where, and how, our local communities have agency and opportunities to improve affordability for all.

    During the Vital Conversation, three presentations highlighted promising local examples of cross-sector initiatives addressing affordability. These were followed by two world cafes and a session on solution development resulting in several identified approaches towards creating improved affordability in the region. These include:

    • Mapping, linking, and sharing local assets and resources in new ways
    • Building collaborative structures for partnerships across sectors
    • Shifting mindsets on affordability (and ways to address it) through communications and story sharing
    • Convening different sectors to build and act on creative affordability solutions together
    • Takes an abundance mentality approach to solution development, rather than scarcity
    • Working together to examine, shift, navigate, and/or remove policy barriers and create supportive policy conditions for local affordability solutions.

    These Vital Conversations are an important start, but it takes more than conversation to create lasting change. For this reason, the Victoria Foundation has announced the Spark Funds in conjunction with the Vital Conversation, with $50,000 approved by the Victoria Foundation Board of Directors.

    In addition to sparking creative approaches to solution development, the purpose of the Spark Funds is to put a spotlight on promising solutions and cross-sector collaborations towards a shared goal of creating ‘Affordability for All.’ Sparks Funds will provide initial support to explore ideas, potential partnerships, and actions related to the approaches identified in the Vital Conversation (listed above).

    While the Vital Conversation informs the criteria for this application, participation in that event is not required to be eligible for funding.

    Applications will be accepted through Survey Monkey starting on Thursday, June 29th and will close on Friday, July 14th at 12 AM (midnight).

    If you need further information or support, please contact Sushil Saini, Manager Strategic Initiatives at grants@victoriafoundation.bc.ca If needed, you can request a phone or virtual meeting.

  • Spark Fund Application Process

    Spark Funds can be requested towards the exploration or development of a potential solution to improve affordability in the Capital Region that fit all the following criteria:

    • It is in the form of a partnership or collaboration among at least two organizations, and preferably across sectors.
    • The potential solution aims to be a “multi-solve”, meaning it provides solutions to more than just one issue related to affordability. For example, combining housing and childcare, or food security and training/education or climate action.
    • Funds will be used for the exploration and development of medium- or longer-term solutions as identified in the Vital Conversation Affordability Framework (as opposed to urgent response.)
    • The application can be shown to align with one or more of the approaches identified through the Vital Conversation (see overview above.)

    A few examples of activities that Spark funds can support include (but not limited to):

    • convening meetings to explore and develop new partnerships to improve affordability
    • exploring a proposed solution, including feasibility studies
    • testing a concept and/or potential solution as a pilot
    • mapping local assets and resources towards developing affordability solutions.
  • Eligibility to Apply

    To be eligible for funding, collaborations or partnerships must include at least one organization that is a registered charity or other qualified donee; and all collaborators/partners should be working within the Capital Regional District.

    You can apply for Spark Funds even if you have a current grant with the Victoria Foundation.

    This is an open invitation to apply. The June 22nd Vital Conversation informs the criteria for this application, but participation in that event is not required to be eligible for funding.

  • How to Apply

    Complete a short 4-question application by no later than 12 AM (midnight) on Friday, July 14, 2023.

    Applicants may request funding of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000. These funds are intended to support the initial exploration of a sparked idea towards creating affordability in the region. A budget is not required as part of this application.

    The application submission is through Survey Monkey. You cannot start an application and return to it later, meaning the application must be started and submitted in one session. The questions in the application are listed below so you can prepare in advance.

  • Application Questions

    The application is made up of the five main questions below. Since Spark Funds are meant to support ideas, actions, and partnerships in the early stages of development, we do not require extensive details.

    1. List the name of the organization submitting this application (must be a registered charity or qualified donee). Include the organization’s address, phone, website, and CRA number is applicable. Include the name of the individual submitting the application.
    2. Please list all the participating organizations and explain the role of each partner/collaborator in this proposed initiative. Include the lead contact from each organization, their email, and phone number.
    3. Please describe the idea or action that you would like to explore, including how it could potentially contribute to improved affordability in the region (up to 150 words).
    4. Please describe the activities that will be undertaken.
    5. Please identify the amount you are seeking: $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000

    Applications are due no later than midnight on Friday, July 14, 2023.

  • Application Assessment Process

    Applications will be reviewed by Victoria Foundation Strategic Initiatives staff for eligibility and alignment with the criteria, with supporting input from community members with related expertise.

    It may include a conversation with applicants to learn more about their plans. This is also an opportunity to further build our relationship, which will continue as the proposed initiative progresses.

    If there is sufficient funding, all eligible submissions meeting the criteria for assessment will be funded. Otherwise, staff will rank applications based on the criteria and by ensuring a range of proposals are funded (e.g. geographic, approach).

  • Criteria for Assessment

    Criteria for Assessment

    Ensure your responses to the application questions address these criteria:

    • Alignment with approaches developed during the Vital Conversation (as outlined in the introductory overview section above).
    • Activities are in the form of a partnership or collaboration among at least two organizations, and preferably across sectors and including a non-profit or social enterprise.
    • A multi-solve approach.
    • Medium- to longer-term solution focus, rather than urgent response (as per Affordability Framework).
    • Suitability and strength of partners in their respective roles identified in the application.
    • The potential impact on improved affordability should the idea or action applicants plan to explore is successful.
  • Notification of Decision

    Notifications will be sent the week of August 28th 2023, and funds will be released soon after.

  • Spark Funds Timeline
    Spark Funds Timeline
    Announce Spark Funds at Vital Conversation Thursday, June 22
    Open Spark Funds Call for Applications Thursday, June 29
    Submission Deadline Friday, July 14 at 12 AM (midnight)
    Staff review complete Monday, August 14
    Board approval Thursday, August 24
    Notify all applicants Week of August 28
    Funds distribution starts Directly following notification and acceptance
    Stewardship September 2023 – July 2024
  • Who do I contact for more information?

    Sushil Saini, Manager of Strategic Initiatives, is available to answer questions by email at grants@victoriafoundation.bc.ca.

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