The United Farmers of Alberta Co-operative is committing $500,000 in funding for educational, recreational and cultural programming or facilities in rural communities.
The funds will be spent over five years through the UFA’s Rural Communities Foundation.
“I think there are so many areas this funding could be used for,” said Harvey Hagman, board chair of the foundation.
“It’s really about helping the sustainability of rural Alberta.”
Hagman said the foundation was developed in 2014 after representatives realized the organization had collected a lot of archived equity.
He said they decided to put that money aside, investing the interest into rural communities. This marks the first time the foundation has given out the funds.
“It was felt that with the equity that was left, it was fitting that the money would go back to communities where our members are from,” he said.
“It was thought it could improve the educational, recreational or cultural facilities in these rural communities, and that was something our membership would be supportive of.”
Hagman said interested applicants can receive a minimum of $10,000 and up to a total of $100,000 for this year.
Applicants can apply until Aug. 31. The UFA will announce the recipients Oct. 16.
“I think it’s going to invigorate rural communities to apply,” he said.
“There are projects out there that people want funding for, and I think once we develop a presence and this is on an annual basis, this will continue over time.”
Groups eligible for funding include registered charities under the Canada Revenue Agency, registered non-profit organizations that are registered provincially or municipally, and community service co-operatives.
All projects must meet one of the recreational, educational or cultural mandates, and they must be completed within a two-year period. As well, projects must be in a community with a UFA presence.
Hagman said he expects the program to grow after the initial five-year funding period.
“I see it substantially growing from this five-year period, with there being a fair bit more money down the road,” he said.