Providing support for a regional non-profit organization as they bid for an economic recovery grant

·4 min read

During the December 22, 2021, Woodlands County Council meeting, Economic Development Officer Bert Roach brought forward an ask on behalf of Community Futures Yellowhead East (CFYE). The ask was for a support letter from Woodlands County Council in CFYE's bid for a regional application to the Women's Economic Recovery Challenge Grant. Along with the County, CFYE had also reached out to regional partners to help solidify their grant hopes. The Women's Economic Recovery Challenge Grant provides funds to Alberta non-profit organizations, such as CFYE, to help support Albertan women and girls as they attempt to recover economically from the pandemic.

Information provided by the Government of Alberta stated that the funding would range from $25,000 to $250,000 per approved project. "Funding can be used for the creation of a brand new project or used to expand an existing project/program. All projects should be complete within two years of award. Successful applicants will receive the grant funding up-front so that their projects can commence immediately," read the official document. Eligible costs under the funding umbrella include travel expenses, materials such as printing, communication costs like marketing or advertising, planning and administration, and expenses deemed directly related to the successful implementation of the project.

There are four program outcomes identified. To be eligible, a project needs to show a measurable impact and align with at least one of them. The four outcomes are to increase women and girls' representation in STEM, increase women and girls' representation in entrepreneurship, decrease barriers women face in the workplace, and foster ease of women's career transitions, employment skills and labour entry or re-entry. For each outcome, the program guideline from the Alberta Government gave examples of what kinds of activities would be considered eligible.

To increase women and girls' representation in STEM, it stated that non-profit organizations could develop a self-sustaining Alberta ecosystem "that provides training, mentorship, networking, and tools to ensure they thrive." For increasing representation in entrepreneurship, the guide mentioned that women entrepreneurs are one of the fastest-growing business segments in the country. "To continue this accelerated growth, women entrepreneurs must remain competitive, and we must ensure girls are thinking about entrepreneurship from a young age," it read.

As examples for decreasing barriers women face in the workplace, the guide provided multiple options, from creating educational tools for employers to address obstacles to specifically targeted training to teach women about their rights in the workplace. It also stated making transitional plans for employers to help decrease barriers before and after maternity leave. The list included the option of assisting employers in implementing "stretch projects for women that would increase their competencies in areas they might not be able to have opportunities in otherwise." It also mentioned creating mentorship programs, "particularly women-to-women mentorship – and networking opportunities that lead to job growth and job creation."

The final listed outcome centred on women's career transitions on labour entry or re-entry. The guide said this could involve helping low-skilled, low-income women move into more "high-skilled, high-income employment opportunities." It could also aid mid-career women in reaching out to new opportunities. Following the suggestions provided in the guide does not guarantee funding.

Woodlands County Council felt the support letter was an easy yes and swiftly voted unanimously to provide it. The letter, penned by Mayor John Burrows, stated, "we are confident this regional initiative will encourage and support women of all ages to pursue and prosper in STEM-based careers in our region," it read. "As part of our strategic economic development efforts to have a market-ready labour force, this project will allow us to promote opportunities within our local labour market to a key demographic that we know faces additional hurdles in pursuing STEM careers. The project will also assist with local diversification efforts through promoting STEM opportunities," ended the letter.

Those interested in learning more about the program and the potential opportunities should the application be successful are encouraged to reach out to Community Futures Yellowhead East. The non-profit organization helps entrepreneurs and small business owners bid for success, ultimately leading to an economically diverse region. Not only can they lend money to businesses, but they also provide further supports to small businesses, including training programs and networking.

Serena Lapointe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press

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