City grants are the bees' knees

City grants are the bees' knees

Funds for local projects

More than 300 different bee species call the Sydney basin home, but when researchers counted how many were living in the City of Sydney area, they were alarmed to find just 8.

With a third of food crops relying on insects for pollination, and yields increasing when pollinated by insects, this bee species shortage makes the City of Sydney’s 26 square kilometres a tough place to grow food.

To bring back the bees, and make gardens more bountiful, the City has given researchers a $25,000 grant to build “bee hotels” in community gardens and plant blooms that bees find irresistible.

This grant to the University of Sydney to improve the health of the City’s urban ecology is just one of around 450 community buildings grants awarded each year. Nearly 700 organisations apply annually for funds from the City of Sydney’s sweeping  annual grants and sponsorship program valued at $13 million.

Many parts of Sydney’s diverse community use City grants to enrich society, run projects that bind the community together, help those most in need and, in the case of bees, fund research that would not otherwise be done.

“It’s surprisingly hard to get funding for bee research, and if we hadn’t received this grant from the City, this research would not  happen,” Dr Tanya Latty said, the entomologist who wants to find out how to lure bees back to community gardens and what impact their return will have.

“There’s a lot of interest in urban agriculture. To a sustainable society we’re going to have to grow more food near where we live,” she said.

Funding to learn how to bring back the bees is just one of 84 new grants approved by the City to support its social, economic and environmental policies that enrich the community and care for its more vulnerable members.

A grant will see teenage refugees cope with their traumatic pasts through creative writing, art and photography workshops. With $20,000 from the City, the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors will help refugees record their personal stories and share them in an exhibition and on a website to increase community understanding of their often harrowing lives.

In Alexandria, a group of older citizens has received $6,000 to publish an anthology of personal stories. Called Sydney As it Was, the project will highlight and preserve the stories of community members from eras past and their links with iconic Sydney buildings and institutions.

As part of next year’s Centenary of ANZAC celebrations, a festival of 100 bands and 6,000 musicians will take part in the National Band Championships thanks in part to a $30,000 grant. Band members from Australia, New Zealand, Asia-Pacific, USA and Europe will commemorate the involvement and sacrifice of members of Australian bands who served. And in a morning spectacular, 55 brass bands will parade and play in Hyde Park.

For disadvantaged young people in the City, nights can be a risky time. To help them, the Fact Tree Youth Service has been running an after-hours program for economically and socially disadvantaged young people aged 11-18 on Friday and Saturday nights.

Fact Tree CEO Sharne Dunsmore said community members were concerned about the large number of young people frequenting Redfern Oval and other public spaces in the Redfern/Waterloo area late at night. A $70,000 grant from the City meant they could offer a safe alternative.

Providing educational, recreational and life skills advice on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, the program is the only one to minimise risky night time behaviour.

“This not only has benefits for the young people, but also their family members who have  appreciated and valued having a safe space for their children to attend during peak times for at-risk behaviour,” Ms Dunsmore said.

The City’s grants and sponsorship program has just been revised and will provide support in the following categories:  

  • Environmental Performance Grants
  • Cultural and Creative Grants and Sponsorship
  • Knowledge Exchange Sponsorship (previously approved ad hoc) 
  • Matching Grant Program 
  • Quick Response (for strategic identified priorities only)
  • Accommodation Grants Program

As well as cash assistance, the City provides a great deal of value-in-kind assistance that includes providing venues for events, sponsoring street banners, and making accommodation available.

Under changes to the grants policy the City’s cultural and creative grants (of up to $50,000) and flagship matching grants ($10,000) – are now available to businesses for community projects, not just to non-profits and unincorporated groups as was the case previously.

“A sole trader wanting to run a community project in Glebe outside their business, for example, could not previously apply for a matching grant,” the City of Sydney’s Grants Manager Sarah Foxe said.

“But we recognise that businesses have skills that can contribute to the building of better communities and deliver projects that contribute to social, cultural, environmental and economic successes,” she said.

Accommodation grants, also previously reserved for not-for-profits, will now be open to start-up businesses across the green, social enterprise or technology sectors in a further union of business expertise and community spirit.

Lovers of festivals and events will also be winners under the policy review with 2 new funding rounds a year open to organisers and longer-term sponsorships available in certain cases.

The changes to the City’s Grants and Sponsorship Program have been made after significant input from stakeholders, thorough research of funding models and an online survey of previous applicants and grant recipients.

To help applicants, new guidelines have been developed and all applications will be lodged and assessed online by 2015 following the successful introduction of an electronic system.

The updated grants program is being rolled out gradually and will be fully operational in the 2015/16 financial year.

Read more about our grants and sponsorships. 

Last updated: Tuesday, 7 October 2014