IMAGINE Community Grants
The IMAGINE Community Grants program provides funding to community-based health improvement initiatives across northern BC. By investing upstream to address determinants of health, the program has supported more than 860 projects which have helped prevent illness and injury and reduce health care costs.
Grant applicants identify their communities’ health needs and propose projects to address them. IMAGINE provides seed money of up to $5,000 each for successful applicant; since 2009, $2.5 million has been awarded to community organizations, Indigenous organizations, schools, municipalities and other community partners. Recent projects include:
- Doig River First Nation’s objective was to get their Elders moving and walking, and they used their funds to buy walking shoes and pedometers. More than half of the Elders in their community participated in the walking program.
- Tumbler Ridge Community Garden and Composting Society helped 125 elementary school students and their teachers grow vegetables at their local community garden. Students experienced the rewarding process of growing their own food for their families, and got extra fresh air and exercise walking the 1.5 km between the school and the garden.
- Fort Nelson Mental Health & Addictions Services Advisory Committee aimed to raise awareness around mental health and the many health care services available in the Northern Rockies region, and they did so through a two-day event which reached 2,500 people, or 64% of the local population.
IMAGINE helps grantees establish clear metrics for measuring the success of their projects. Using the thorough data that results, IMAGINE helps ensure their continued impact by sharing successful grant stories on social media, on Northern Health’s blog, and in Northern Health magazines and evaluation reports. In 2016, IMAGINE launched an online map showing all community projects that have received grants, complete with photographs and links to more information about each project.
The program itself has expanded and improved since its inception. In 2017, 49 of approximately 89 communities in the Northern Health region received grants, double the 24 which were reached in 2009, the program’s first year. The program is committed to equity in its process by giving extra support to unsuccessful applicants and first-time grantees. IMAGINE has also committed to reaching underrepresented communities, using innovative advertising to build momentum around the program.
Plans for the program include creating networking opportunities to connect previous grant recipients and new applicants whose projects have similar goals. For instance, several community gardens have received grants over the years, so IMAGINE is looking to help grantees and applicants from community gardens to connect and share their ideas, successes and challenges.
The success of IMAGINE Community Grants shows that when communities are empowered to identify their own challenges and suggest their own solutions, innovative ideas emerge that ultimately keep people healthy in their home communities.