The Anglican Foundation of Canada (AFC) has received an unprecedented wave of applications from across Canada in response to the Say Yes! to Kids Request for Proposals (RFP). “In the history of AFC, we have never seen anything like this kind of energy around a grant cycle,” says The Rev. Canon Dr. Judy Rois, Executive Director. “We asked people to imagine more for children and youth in a post-pandemic world, and that is exactly what they did!”
At the close of the October 1 deadline, AFC had received more than 80 proposals, representing a total funding request of more than $500,000. “We are having to recruit additional volunteers to our RFP Committee to review the applications,” says Dr. Scott Brubacher, Executive Administrator. “At first glance the vast majority of these proposals are well-articulated and fall within the funding parameters.”
Canon Rois says proposals reveal an incredible breadth and diversity, “from podcasts to pilgrimage the vision for new ministry is inspiring.” She says demand has been highest for smaller grants and seed funding for new initiatives, with eighty percent of applicants accessing category A grants of up to $5,000. The majority of these are for pilot projects.
“There are dozens of applications for student enrichment in education, arts, and recreation, many of them designed to reach new Canadians and low-income communities,” says Rois. “Some of the most innovative projects, and new models for outreach to non-church youth, have come from rural parishes.” Rois says partnerships abound as applicants reveal their plans to work with community agencies and the healthcare sector to either advise on, or help deliver, impactful youth-oriented programs. “We are also seeing a remarkable number of reconciliation-focused projects.”
In terms of geographic diversity, Brubacher says 9 out of 10 Canadian provinces, and 2 out of 3 Territories are represented, and 21 of 30 dioceses. “We have never seen this kind of broad, nationwide representation during a grant cycle. This is truly an exceptional situation.”
The Very Rev. Peter Wall, AFC’s Development Consultant, explains that his team is working hard to address the funding shortfall. “In addition to the $110,000 raised as a result of the spring campaign, we have received two exceptionally generous gifts that might be used towards this effort.” AFC management and board are developing a contingency plan that, once approved, may result in close to $330,000 in available funding. “Our goal is to bring that funding gap closer to $150,000.”
Wall says that between now and when the Board of Directors meets in November to approve the RFP grants, he and his team will be having “quiet conversations” with donors who may now wish to support this largest-ever outreach to young people. “Many donors responded very generously to the spring Say Yes! to Kids campaign,” says Wall, “and others were unsure about the timing and if it was too soon to begin planning for pandemic recovery. We didn’t know how many proposals we could expect to receive. Now we know!”
Wall readily admits this RFP has been a game-changer and has given AFC a much stronger understanding of the Canadian church’s “capacity and willingness to stretch itself to meet the needs of young people” in communities across the country. “With this new information in hand, we will make sure our supporters are aware of the many worthwhile projects that await funding. There is so much compassion and creativity in these proposals—the least we can do is stretch ourselves to try to fund as many of them as possible.”