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Federated Co-op contest helps give back to the community

Donates $1 million to community projects, with four finalists competing for additional funding

Federated Co-operatives is asking consumers to decide which community improvement project in Western Canada deserves an additional $25,000 in funding.

It’s holding an online vote from Sept. 14–25 in which people can vote once daily on Facebook to choose their favourite among four finalists in the retailer’s $1 million annual Community Spaces program.

Launched last spring, the social responsibility program aims to fund local community group projects in areas that have Co-ops. The program is providing 16 projects related to recreation, environmental conservation and urban agriculture with between $25,000 and $100,000 in funding this year.

“We’re hoping (the online vote) will help amplify knowledge of the program,” says Trevor Carlson, director, sustainability at Federated Co-operatives in Saskatoon.

The four projects chosen among the 16 as finalists – one each from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. – involve constructing a community rain garden, building a town square on the site of a former gas station, rejuvenating a community playground with safe equipment and building a new, centrally located greenhouse.

Community Spaces and the online vote are being promoted via Twitter, Facebook and the website. People who go online can watch a video about the top four projects before voting.

The aim of the online initiative is to let people know what type of projects may be taking place in their own backyards and to seed interest for applicants next year, Carlson says.

There were more than 700 applications for funding this year – far more than expected - and “quite frankly, we were astonished and dazzled by what came forward.” The goal is to see even more applicants in 2016, he says.

All 210 retail Co-ops were given information packages on Community Spaces last spring, and many put up signage and let local community groups know about the program.

“From looking at the applicants, there’s a lot of need,” Carlson says. “It’s really tough to find a project that isn’t worthy. We think that if we can keep this program going as long as we can, at some point a lot of these projects will receive some sort of funding and help them make a go of things.”

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