The Northern Development Initiative Trust provides each of the municipalities in the region with a grant of $7,500 each to help with the cost of a grant writer. Instead, North Peace communities have pooled their money together to hire one grant writer, Andy Ackerman, which is then “topped up” with approximately $13,000 from the NPEDC.
“We recognize that that amount of money is not enough to really compensate a grant writer for the value they bring to our community,” says Moore.
Should Fort St. John not continue its partnership with the grant writer program, it could apply for the $7,500 on its own for a part-time writer. The other communities of Hudson’s Hope, Taylor, and Areas B and C of the Peace River Regional District would continue to pool their grants for a smaller grant writing contract.
“From my perspective, it doesn’t make sense for the City to have their own grant writer for the region,” Moore argues. “Part of the work that Andy does, it’s not just for the municipalities, but for community organizations that don’t necessarily have the capacity or the resources to apply for their own grants. So that’s really important work for building community capacity.”
While the City does use Ackerman’s services from time to time, it has encouraged non-profit groups to take the support instead.
“We had heard from many non-profits that they were overwhelmed with the amount of work for grant writing, that they did not have the capacity to respond to grants, they did not have, perhaps, the skill to really put together a grant application,” explains City Manager Dianne Hunter. “We made it a principle decision on the City’s part to not utilize it ourselves primarily.”
Since this started in the spring of 2010, $159,675 has been spent on the grant writer by the communities combined, which Moore argues is an “outstanding” investment, as $3.2 million in grants have been approved in that time. The North Peace has also been hailed as the most successful grant writing program that NDIT oversees.
The City is currently in the middle of its 2014 budget deliberations.