A total of $1.8 million in grants are available through the School Community Connections program to encourage the greater utilization of school facilities and support Neighbourhood Learning Centres.
"Schools are valuable community assets, not just for school-aged children but for the entire community," said Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid. "We are working with boards of education to increase the use of school facilities through community partnerships and this funding will further that goal."
The School Community Connections program was first announced in 2005 with a $10-million investment. Since then, more than $8 million has been committed to 340 projects. The 2010 School Community Connections program, which represents the remaining $1.8 million in funding, continues the goal of actively encouraging boards of education and local governments to work co-operatively with community partners to expand the use of schools to provide community services and support the development of Neighbourhood Learning Centres.
School districts, in partnership with local governments, can submit up to three applications - totalling no more than $30,000 - for grant funding. The School Community Connections program is jointly administered by the Province, Union of British Columbia Municipalities and British Columbia School Trustees Association.
The grant application window will be open until June 4, 2010. A board of education and local government must apply together. Grants should support planning and/or minor renovations that:
* Encourage the co-location of services for students, their families and the larger community with school facilities,
* Make greater utilization of available or new school facilities, or
* Encourage collaborative long-term planning for facilities that takes into account the needs of the community as a whole.
Through the School Community Connections program, school districts and local governments have partnered to increase community use of school facilities. Previously approved projects have included new child-care spaces, upgrades to playing fields to promote healthy lifestyles and developing community gardens.
All school districts in B.C. have been encouraged to find unique and innovative ways to design schools with community use in mind and create places where people have better access to educational and community services. Neighbourhood Learning Centres respond to community interests and may include a wide variety of programs and resources including child-care programs, office space, health clinics, sports programs, seniors' centres and family resource centres.
In addition to the School Community Connections program, the Province has also committed $30 million to assist school districts to include Neighbourhood Learning Centres in renovations or new construction.
For more information or grant application forms, visit the School Community Connections website at www.schoolconnections.ca