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Region aids groups dedicated to improving equitable access to services

Four groups operating in Cambridge are among 41 set to receive $4.1 million in funding
Region of Waterloo administration complex
The Region of Waterloo administration complex on Frederick Street in Kitchener.

The Region of Waterloo will be allocating over $4 million to 41 local groups to improve the health and well-being of indigenous, black, racialized and other communities facing discrimination. 

With close to a million people expected to call Waterloo region home by 2051, the regional council is making it a priority to invest in the community. Their goal is to improve safety, well-being and remove barriers for those who are most impacted by systemic inequality.

“We know that Waterloo Region is home to many leaders and organizations who work every day to create a more equitable community for all,” said regional chair Karen Redman in a press release. “By investing in their work, we will be able to create a better community for everyone.” 

The region pulled community leaders and residents together and formed the Community Change Committee so these funds would be allocated to the community by the community. 

The Community Change Committee is made up of 12 leaders and residents and reviewed applications from over 100 groups and organizations.

The funding prioritizes grassroots organizations and groups that traditionally face barriers accessing traditional funding sources. 

Out of the over 100 applications, only 41 organizations and groups were selected with a handful of them operating in Cambridge.

These groups include; The Islamic Centre of Cambridge, K-W Urban Native Wigwam Project, SPECTRUM and Rhythm & Blues Cambridge. 

The funds for this initiative have been pulled from the Region of Waterloo’s Upstream Fund and the region’s Equity Community Capacity Building Fund with $2.1 million and $2 million respectively. 

Community Change Committee member, Fauzia Wafai, thinks when the community gets to decide where the funding will go, it creates a stronger sense of community. 

“The involvement of the community members has made the process transparent, which in turn will develop the trust of organizations and give them confidence to do even better,” said Wafai. 

All of the organizations chosen to receive funding look to build and grow spaces that centre on: reconciliation, anti-hate, inclusive, safe spaces, employment skills, well-being, and system navigation.

“The Upstream Fund has the potential to shift the balance of power in our Region, and begin to prevent harm before it happens” said Community Change Committee member Pamela Fehr. 

“I was repeatedly amazed at the critical and creative work occurring in all corners of the region… our diverse committee jumped wholeheartedly into the fray to determine together what is most needed to create a safe and healthy community for all.” 

More information about this project and how these groups are using the funds can be found on the region’s website

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Joe McGinty

About the Author: Joe McGinty

Joe McGinty is a multimedia journalist who covers local news in the Cambridge area. He is a graduate of Conestoga College and began his career as a freelance journalist at CambridgeToday before joining full time.
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