October 22nd, 2020

City streamlining system for applying for social program funding

By Kalinowski, Tim on October 30, 2019.

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald


The City of Lethbridge is pooling all of its available funding for social programs and will seek greater integration and accountability from service providers applying for grants.

The measure comes into effect after city council voted 7-0 in favour on Monday for the pooling of resources as recommended within the Community Well-Being and Safety Strategy. Coun. Joe Mauro was absent for the vote and Coun. Rob Miyashiro recused himself after declaring a conflict of interest.

“Altogether over a four-year period, we’re looking in excess of $25 million (in available funding),” explained Marten Thomsen. “Built into this new system, we’re going to have new performance targets and measures to ensure the money that goes out the door is effectively achieving the desired outcomes.”

But there will also be efficiency savings and benefits for service organizations as well under the new integrated funding model, stated Thomsen. Under the previous system organizations had to make separate applications to various pools of money, and most had to re-apply for funding on an annual basis.

The new system, explained Thomsen, will pool all funds under three general streams: Family and Community Support Services (FCSS); Outreach Support and Services Initiative (OSSI); and the Reaching Home program. Service providers will only have to make one grant application which will automatically make them potentially eligible for funding from all three streams. Depending on the ask, and the kind of program, applicants may also receive up to four years of funding after making only one grant application to the general fund.

However, said Thomsen, the City will expect organizations who want funding to do things differently in terms of their service-delivery models.

“Right now, we have mapped over 1,400 programs in Lethbridge delivering services or programs related to community well-being and safety, and we know we spend a lot of money,” stated Thomsen.

“This is about better system planning, and it’s about integrating, collaborating and consolidating those programs to be more efficient, effective and to generate better outcomes. We will, as part of the application process, be asking people to employ that system planning and integration to avoid that duplication of programs and services. And those that can do that will be rewarded.”

That means organizations and service providers will now be mandated under the new integrated grant application system to collaborate with other service organizations working in similar areas of community need and submit joint proposals for funding.

“That way you are going to reduce bureaucracy,” stated Thomsen. “You are going to reduce duplication. This is going to save work for the service providers, and hopefully it is going to lead to more efficiency for all those involved and better outcomes. We are encouraging applicants to leverage existing resources, collaborate, consolidate.”

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