The Community Sustaining Fund, a continuous recipient of the Co-op’s Round Up! at the registers program, is now accepting applications for their 2020 Spring Grant Cycle.
Special note: in addition to projects meeting the standard criteria, the Community Sustaining Fund is interested in projects geared to address the social and health concerns of the covid-19 pandemic in Thurston County.
For more information about the Community Sustaining Fund, here is an article by Desdra Dawning, former Olympia Food Co-op Board Member, from our quarterly Table magazine, published a while back.
Rounding Up: Community Sustaining Fund at the Co-op Register
By Desdra Dawning, Board Member
As a member of the Co-op Board, I am gifted with many opportunities to engage in community activities. I recently volunteered to serve as an OFC representative at grant cycle meetings of the Community Sustaining Fund (CSF). For some time, I have known about the Round Up at the Register program that the Co-op offers in collaboration with CSF and how it brings in much-needed seed and sustaining funds for local organizations, and occasionally I remember to say “round me up for CSF” when checking out.
However, it took attending two of their meetings to understand how vital to the community their work is, how many organizations depend on their help from time to time, and how our Round Up program can quite easily, with member participation, help bring in these needed funds. With less than a dollar for every “round up,” we can all afford to help!
The most recent grant cycle for CSF—held twice a year— was during the month of November, and with more than 6 groups requesting financial help, I learned that “the ask was double the $2,700 that had been gathered in the last 6 months.” The maximum usually awarded in most cases is $1,000, but with limited funds, all valid requests ended up receiving less than they asked for, with careful consideration over how much could be awarded
to each grantee.
Following an initial meeting with the vetting of applications by the CSF leadership team, six very local groups were determined for funding: Stonewall Youth, South Sound Estuarium, Fertile Ground, Lacey Loves to Read, the Nisqually Land Trust, and Art Forces/Olympia Rafa Mural.
Eric Mapes, fellow OFC Board member, and I sat in on interviews with representatives for each organization. We both have an interest in how the Co-op can more effectively raise funds for the Community Sustaining Fund in our on-going Round Up at the Register program.
Much of the funding for these grants comes from money collected at the Co-op through the Round Up at the Register program. I think of this system as a way that all of us shopping at the Co-op can offer up some “spare change” each time we shop, giving less than a dollar each time, to help build the coffers at CSF and support these and many other local groups who are all doing their best to offer their amazing services to our community.
Mostly, for me, it is about remembering to say “round up for CSF” when my groceries are being checked out at the Co-op check-out line. Simple enough, now I just need to learn to make it a habit to remember, knowing how far my coins can help CSF to spread the wealth!