Anglican Foundation raises $110,000 for post-pandemic children and youth ministry

By

Brenda Still

Newcomer kids build a campfire at Quebec Lodge, a 2019 recipient of AFC funding. Photo: Anglican Foundation of Canada

The Anglican Foundation of Canada (AFC) says it has raised 10% more than it had targeted in an appeal for money to fund post-pandemic ministry for children and young people—and has issued its largest-ever request for proposals, aiming to disburse all the proceeds this fall.

The foundation’s Say Yes! to Kids campaign launched on April 5, with the goal of raising $100,000. By the time it officially ended June 30, donations topped $110,000—and more gifts were expected to come in, says AFC executive director Canon Judy Rois.

“The fact that we wanted to reach out and help kids—recognizing that they would be really having a rough time with this pandemic—I think it just struck a chord with people, and they were willing to donate,” Rois says.

Donors spanned a wide range of ages; the first donor was 14, and one of the last was ninety years old.

The foundation is now looking forward to receiving proposals of projects to fund—and wants to make sure Canadian Anglicans know it.

“One of our big challenges is spreading the word that this money is available,” says AFC development consultant Michelle Hauser. “We don’t want people to miss the window of funding.”

The money raised by the campaign will fund projects for the year 2022, intended to help children, youth and young adults flourish. There are two categories of grants: Category A, of up to $5,000, for local projects; and Category B grants of up to $15,000 for ministries across cities, dioceses or regions. The grants will not be part of the maximum of three now permitted per diocese, and the scope of the projects, Hauser says, is broad—anything having to do with the health and well-being of children, youth and young adults. Grants may go to existing or new programs.

The deadline to apply is Oct. 1, with winning proposals announced in December. Proposals will be accepted starting Sept. 1—but anyone with an idea is welcome to approach the foundation at any time if they have questions or need help putting their application together.

“Anybody who thinks, ‘Hmm, I have an idea but I don’t know if it’s fully cooked’—they’re absolutely encouraged to reach out to us,” Hauser says. “We actually really work with people to make sure their applications are successful, and we’re doing that right now.”

“What we’re hoping for is that people will really be imaginative,” Rois says. “I don’t think there will be any shortage of interesting ideas that come up.”

Among the things that have brought the mental health of young people to public attention in Canada, she says, has been an ongoing study on the pandemic’s effects on children and youth led by Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

According to the latest preliminary findings from the study, released July 8, more than half of 758 children aged eight to 12 and 70% of 520 adolescents reported “clinically significant depressive symptoms” during the pandemic’s second wave, from February to March 2021. The study also found that the more time students aged six to 18 spent doing online learning, the more symptoms of depression and anxiety they experienced, and that a loss of in-school services like healthy eating programs, counseling and learning help led to poorer mental health among children and youth.

“Kids need school, they need their friends and they need to have fun,” Daphne Korczak, the study’s principal investigator and an adolescent psychiatrist at the hospital, said in a news release. “As our focus shifts to reopening society, we must have meaningful conversations about prioritizing the needs of children and youth.”

Rois says that grant-winning ministry projects could involve things like clubs for homework, outdoor exercise, hobbies—and much more. After the AFC did a podcast featuring Anglican kids speaking on generosity, one of the young participants wrote to her, Rois says, wondering if he could use some of the money raised in the campaign to start his own podcast with a group of other kids. Rois thought it was an excellent idea, and encouraged him to put together a proposal with his community hub or parish priest. Hauser says she encouraged an application from a group wanting financial help buying instruments to start a music program in their congregation.

Many would-be applicants may be unaware of the potential that exists in partnering with schools on projects, Hauser says.

“There are a lot of people doing very creative things in consultation and partnership with their school boards, with their local school communities—going to them and saying, ‘How can we help?’” she says. “And the school is saying ‘Here’s how,’ and a lot of really wonderful youth-focused ministry is happening in Canada through those partnerships.

“I think people should not be shy about partnering with schools to identify gaps in their communities, identify children in need. There’s some places where the doors have been closed, but I think the pandemic has been a bit of a game-changer, and people realize that the church has established a new level of trust with communities.”

Will the uncertainty that the pandemic has caused make it harder to pick projects to fund? Hauser says that, although the unpredictable climate makes planning ministry more difficult, the foundation expects to get proposals in which an “abundance of caution meets an abundance of creativity”—projects inspired enough to work even in difficult times.

“For every three or four who say ‘No,’ there’s one or two who say, ‘We’re going to find a way,’ ” she says.

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Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.

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