6 May 2022

Wagga Council's annual grants still up for grabs, calls for youth-led initiatives

| Anna Maskus
Start the conversation
School students hiking

Wagga High’s Duke of Edinburgh Awards program benefitted from last year’s funding. Photo: Wagga City Council.

Applications are closing soon for one of the Wagga region’s best opportunities to secure funding for community-engaging projects and events.

The Annual Grants Program is part of the Council’s Community Strategic Plan 2040, which aims to reinforce Wagga’s social network and build upon existing community strengths.

Hopeful applicants are eligible to see their share of $202,000 put towards categories of Community Programs and Projects, Recreational Facilities, Neighbourhood and Rural Villages, Rural Halls, Arts, Culture and Creative Industries, Local Heritage, Events, Natural Environment, Youth-Led Initiatives and Small Business.

Wagga Wagga City Council social planning coordinator Sarah Lehman said the program empowered the community to “come up with the ideas and follow-through”, and emphasised the broad scope for applications.

“The whole idea was to make it not so niche, so more people can potentially see their idea come to fruition,” she said.

“We do have a great number of people who have applied so far. It’s a lot different from last year’s applicants, which I think is wonderful because it shows that the creativity and passion are still therein.”

READ ALSO Wagga youth share their stories for pump station art projects

Despite the positive response so far Ms Lehman said there was still plenty of capacity in the Youth-Led Initiatives category.

“We want a strong idea to come from a young person and see that come to life,” she said.

After the Wagga council undertook a large piece of youth engagement work in 2017, the Youth-Led Initiative grant category emerged. This grant gives people in the Local Government Area aged 12 to 25 years a chance to see their ideas brought to life with a grant of up to $3000.

Such a grant would see a local young person or group linking with community service or a not-for-profit. Projects resulting from grants in the past have included live music, arts and culture-based programming, exhibitions, LGBTQIA+ representation and support groups, and even training in planning the events themselves, meaning applicants had the opportunity to gain employability skills along the way.

READ ALSO McCormack faces one less political rival in the battle for Riverina

“This year, we’re seeing a lot more mental health and wellbeing support requests coming through, which I think is a wonderful thing. That is a gap in the community, whether that is a direct result of COVID or not,” Ms Lehman said.

She added that it was exciting to see that Wagga’s youth wanted more training opportunities and direct input into the program.

She explained that part of the beauty of the grant program was that project initiatives could be linked to existing services with a similar theme.

“People often ring in with inquiries if they don’t have an existing relationship with a community service. They tell us their project idea, or what they’re looking to achieve, and then we use our knowledge and connections to link them in with organisations with similar goals,” she said.

“For example, if someone’s looking to do a mental health support group, then obviously we will be looking for a mental health service that directly works with young people.

“Oftentimes what you’ll find is that those services can help support ongoing growth even after the grant funds have been expended.”

READ ALSO Riverina Water turns on the tap for grassroots projects

Having young people in the community build and expand their own networks is another of the program’s long term benefits.

Ms Lehman recommends applicants approach support services with ideas for projects and create a costing breakdown including as many financial aspects of the project as possible.

“The more detail the better in that regard, so we can get a really clear idea of what they are hoping to achieve,” she said.

Submissions for 2022/23 grants can be made through Wagga’s SmartyGrants portal.

Ms Lehman encouraged applicants to reach out to the council’s youth development officer if they have queries.

“The project can go as far as your imagination will take you. But we acknowledge that support is needed to get that off the ground,” she said.

The deadline for 2022/23 Annual Grants applications has been extended to 10 am, Monday 9 May.

Click here to learn more about the Annual Grants Program 2022/23 or keep up to date with funding opportunities.

Original Article published by Anna Maskus on About Regional.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.