Applications are now open for this year’s Learning and Engagement Accelerator Fund (LEAF).
Ontario-based company Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group is bringing its year-old initiative back for another round of grants for local community-led and focused projects in (Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Huntsville, Parry Sound, Kemptville and Pembroke).
Cassidy Allison, the company’s Marketing and Member Insights Specialist says last year over 120 applications came in from across the province, with 21 grants awarded. “This year [The Commonwell] has $300,000 available and will choose how many projects will go into it at the end,” she says.
Allison says the requirements for funding are more specific this time around. She says this year, they are looking for projects that support learning and capacity building in communities.
“Last year our requirements were much broader. We were just looking for community engagement. This year we are really focussing on learning and building strong communities for the future,” Allison says. According to her, some of the initiative’s favourite projects from last year were things that really boosted learning.
“That could be things like skills programming, maker spaces in libraries, and upgrading facilities where learning takes place. So maybe a community center is a place where people use the facilities for training or teaching. We had a teaching kitchen where they would teach people how to cook healthy meals, which would also fit into that learning and capacity-building requirement,” she says.
Allison says the grants will be awarded in early December and people have until November 10th to get their application in at www.thecommonwell.ca/leaf
Just like last year, she says The Commonwell is looking for projects that are ready to go but just need that extra boost to get things running. Allison says the application is really easy to fill out, short, and not too cumbersome, adding that any organization that has a project that fits in that learning and engagement space can go ahead and submit it.
“We’ll reach out if we have any additional questions, but most applications kind of flow through. Once they’ve submitted their applications they have the opportunity to gather community support on our page on our website so they can share that on social media, and people can comment and share their support for those projects and really boost the reputation of those organizations,” she says.
Allison says there is no rush to submit applications, however, the earlier you submit your application the longer you have to collect community engagement on social media, which she says is a component of how recipients are picked.
“We are just super excited and we hope to see lots of applications this year, last year it was so exciting to read all the applications and see what people are doing in their communities to come back after COVID and we are super excited to continue that support this year,” she says.
***Written by Mo Fahim