Community Spotlight: Social Planning Grants

The City of Kamloops' Social Planning Council (SPC) has funded community-led initiatives for over two decades. Through these grants, the SPC has supported the development, growth, and expansion of a wide-range of community-based initiatives and projects. We've funded accessibility initiatives, music programs, community food programs, recreation programs, tech innovation, and housing initiatives, just to name a few.

Each year, community organizations apply for funding under four categories: seed grants, special projects, special capital expenditures, and operational grants. The SPC reviews the applications and makes recommendations to City Council, which gives final approval. In 2016, we supported 14 organizations, which received a total of $65,218 in grants. The following paragraphs highlight four of these projects:

Building community through teaching and tech

2016 was a big year for Kamloops Makerspace. Using a Social Planning Grant, Makerspace purchased a laser cutter. When we spoke to Vaughn Warren, coordinator of the Makerspace Design Lab, he said that "the Social Planning Grant changed everything. It has given people access to a technology that would have otherwise been impossible for people to use."

The laser cutter has been so popular that Makerspace has successfully grown its membership – everyone wants to try it out! Organizations have been able to use the laser cutter to create prototypes and experiments, scale models, and construct other creative pieces. In addition, the laser cutter is serviced and maintained by a growing base of trained Makerspace members. A Laser 101 course is offered for free to members every month, and it empowers them with the basic training required to operate the cutter.

The laser cutter has also led to growing partnerships with Twin Rivers Education Centre School, the Christian Online School, Four Directions Storefront School, Skeetchestn School, Girl Guides, adult learning, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District Library, Hot Night in the City, the Community Arts Council, and many more.

Throughout the year, Makerspace hosted laser-cutting workshops and open houses where local organizations and members of the arts community were invited to learn how use the machine. The 120-watt laser has also been the focus of many of Makerspace's open house Hack Nights. To date, Makerspace has hosted 85 consecutive, free Wednesday open houses to ensure everyone in the community can access its resources, participate in tours, and receive project support.

Supporting young musicians' pursuits

With funding from a Social Planning Grant, the Kamloops Interior Summer School of Music (KISSM) launched the Whole Note music program in 2016. This community-based initiative is the first of its kind in Kamloops and will support young musicians (grades 7 to 10) who are interested in pursuing music but cannot afford lessons. The Whole Note program provides participants with 10 private music lessons, a full scholarship to the three week KISSM program, facilitated community music engagement, a professional photo, and a professional biography.

The program's founder, Kim Mangan, explained her inspiration for creating the program through her personal connection to music. At age 13, Kim received an Arts and Legacy Grant from the City. The grant gave her the confidence to pursue music – she was a clarinet player at the time – and "shaped her commitment to advocating for music education for youth." Her passion for affordable lessons led her to found Whole Note, and she emphasized the important role the Social Planning Grant has played in the program. In addition to supporting its development, the funding allowed Mangan to create a website and visual identity for the program, both of which have been essential for leveraging additional support for the project. She emphasized that the program "wouldn't have gone forward without the planning and communicating that took place because of the grant."

Improving accessibility to enhance the gallery experience

The Arnica Artist Run Centre Society improved accessibility to its art exhibitions for people with visual and hearing impairment through the use of interactive tablet technology. For example, written materials were translated into audio files, which makes more information accessible to the visually impaired. With this new technology, visitors are able to magnify images of the artworks on exhibition, look up information related to the artists and their work, and take descriptive audio tours of the exhibits. An articulated arm allows wheelchair users to adjust the tablet as needed.

The project has enriched and expanded the art gallery experience for a diversity of visitors. Terryl Atkins, President of the Board for Arnica, affirmed that "this technology will greatly enable access and enjoyment of art for those who may feel left out of cultural activities through sensory impairments."

Providing crisis and victim services for survivors of assault and violence

The Kamloops Sexual Assault Counselling Centre (KSACC) initiated its Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) with the support of the Social Planning Grant and other community partners. The team, in partnership with Interior Health, the RCMP, and other community partners, will help ensure survivors of sexual assault have immediate community support services while accessing Royal Inland Hospital.

Members of SART will support survivors throughout the entire time they are at the hospital and will strive to help survivors stay connected to services once they leave the hospital. Therefore, the project is helping to ensure survivors of sexual assault can access community expert support services immediately following a crisis. Agency Coordinator Charlene Eden said the start-up of SART would not have been possible without the Social Planning Grant. She further explained that, with support from the funding, the team is helping to fill a service gap by providing an essential service to the community. The very existence of the program means that there will be greater wraparound of services for survivors, which can facilitate a quicker start for the healing process.

By working toward providing after-hours crisis response and ensuring community awareness, KSACC and its partners are working towards mitigating the lasting impacts of sexual violence and decreasing sexual violence as a whole.

While we have only highlighted a few of the successes from 2016, there were other inspiring projects going on throughout the community. View the full list of funded projects from 2016.

Going into 2017, the Social Planning Grants will distribute $70,416 to 12 organizations. 2017's Social Planning Grants will support:

  • Boys and Girls Club of Kamloops
  • Interior Community Services
  • Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society
  • Kamloops Community YMCA-YWCA
  • Kamloops Family Resources Society
  • Kamloops Interior Summer School of Music
  • Kamloops Makerspace
  • Kamloops Sexual Assault Counselling Centre
  • Kamloops Society for Alcohol and Drug Services (Phoenix Centre)
  • PacificSport Interior BC
  • Thompson Shuswap Master Gardeners
  • Volunteer Kamloops

Stay tuned as we feature the work these organizations are doing to make our community stronger.