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Kitchener's RISE Fund supports six new community-led initiatives

From gardening projects to mentorship programs, home visits for seniors, and employment supports for racialized women, the groups selected as the first recipients of the the Racialized and Indigenous Supports for Equity (RISE) Fund are doing 'positive and transformational' work in the community
Kitchener City Hall Oct 5, 2018
Kitchener City Hall. Blair Adams/KitchenerToday

Six community groups have been selected as the first recipients of the City of Kitchener's new Racialized and Indigenous Supports for Equity (RISE) Fund to do positive and transformational work in the community, from gardening projects to employment supports for racialized women. 

The RISE Fund supports Black, Indigenous and racialized community-led organizations, programs, initiatives, or events meant to decrease inequities and increase opportunities and well-being for those same communities in Kitchener.

The grant program launched in February of this year, and has received a high volume of "diverse applications from the community." 

"I'm so pleased by the high level of interest from valued community organizations in the RISE Fund, which speaks to why more grants like this are needed," said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic in a news release. "The six groups that have been selected to receive funding are some of many unique and inspiring proposals we received this year. As these projects and initiatives take shape, I look forward to seeing the positive impact they will create in our community and for the community members who have traditionally been underserved."

Recipients were chosen by the Equity & Anti-Racism Advisory Committee, which is made up of 12 members from historically underrepresented groups. 

The six recipients include: 

  • Action for Women & Family Foundation (AFWAFF): Gardens for Black Families (GBF) project. This project will bring together 15 families to farm 15 garden plots in Kitchener-Waterloo Region. They will plant fruits and vegetables and harvest them for their use and use by the community.
  • African Family Revival Organization (AFRO): Home support for Black seniors. The AFRO will run a one-year pilot program and train a team of three Black youth to provide regular home visits and light housekeeping services to isolated Black seniors living in Kitchener.
  • The Coalition of Muslim Women (CMW) of K-W: Women Leading Change Project. Recognizing that racialized women require more tools to leverage education and experience from their country of origin, the CMW will run a Women Leading Change Project. This project will help bridge gaps in knowledge and understanding for racialized women to achieve more successful economic and social outcomes.
  • The Ethiopian Association of KW & Surrounding Areas (EA): Conference event. The EA will host a one-day conference for association members focused on financial planning, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, preparing a will, and the importance of education. The conference will also provide access to valuable community resources such as mental health services, family counselling, legal representation, community recreational activities, and financial education.
  • Hope for Community Development: Service expansion. This group will build on its existing services to provide racialized youth and adults with employable skills and entrepreneurship programs to enhance their professional capabilities and grow their businesses. This funding will allow more than 50 young aspiring entrepreneurs aged 16-35 to attend educational workshops and training to learn principles to grow their businesses.
  • Maada'oonidiwag Mentorship Program. This mentorship program pairs four individuals with an Indigenous knowledge carrier for one-to-one teaching and mentorship. The program will include traditional dance teachings, ceremonial practices, protocols and responsibilities, regalia, and cultural guidance.

"The RISE Fund considered the systemic barriers that are built into many grant application processes, especially for communities of colour, and intentionally tried to leave space for applicants to decide what their communities need most to determine their own futures," said Rea Parchment, the City's Senior Anti-Racism Advisor. "Significant community interest in the RISE Fund shows that there are meaningful opportunities for the City to invest and re-invest in historically underrepresented and marginalized communities."

Applications for the RISE Fund will open again in August. For more information about the grant, including eligibility criteria, visit and subscribe to the page to be notified by email when applications reopen.

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