Vicinity’s community grants program has directed $100,000 in funding to a range of high impact community projects that address youth unemployment and disengagement at the local level.”
Purpose of the project
The purpose of this project was to establish a program that will drive centre level community investment towards the issues of youth disengagement and youth unemployment – the focus areas of Vicinity’s Community Investment Program (Program) The success of the corporate Program will be largely determined by the extent that our centres align their activities with the objectives of the Program. As the Community Investment Program is in its infancy, some centres required seed funding to kick start high quality and localised projects. A centrally funded community grants program would achieve this goal by directing funding the highest impact projects focused on alleviating youth disengagement and youth unemployment.
The community grants program adopted a centralised structure where the Sustainability team assessed grant applications received from centres and allocated funding to centre level projects based on the merits of the proposals put forward. Strong governance practices underpinned the community grants program, including an application form and a grant assessment criteria and score sheet. These resulted in a pool of high quality applications and that an objective and robust assessment process was carried out to direct funds to the best projects. In addition, the Sustainability team drafted project specific reporting guidelines for each grant recipient, which will help centres report the performance of their projects against objectives.
The community grants program was run from April to May 2017 and was made available to all Vicinity shopping centres. In total, 29 applications were submitted for funding and 16 projects were successful in securing funding from a total pool of $100,000. Every project that received funding is unique in terms of scope, size and objectives, however, they all address youth unemployment and disengagement at the local level and deliver community benefits in different ways. For example, some projects are using youth outreach as a means to engage young people in positive activities, supporting skills certification and work experience to enhance employment prospects, while other centres are creating markets to support youth retail enterprises. One project was delivered in June 2017 and the rest will be delivered in FY2018.
The community grants program is underpinned by a reporting framework that aligns with the London Benchmarking Group Framework for measuring social performance. The specific measures of success are different for each project, as each project is unique in terms of scope and objectives. However, all success measures are divided into inputs, outputs and impacts and include success measures such as cash contribution from Vicinity, volunteer hours worked by Vicinity staff, number of youth, retailers and consumers engaged through projects, value of Vicinity assets leveraged and behavioural, skills and personal impacts on youth.