To combat the rising levels of loneliness and social isolation in Toronto, the Toronto Foundation and Volunteer Toronto have announced an extension of the deadline for The Power of Us microgrant program. The program allows resident-led groups, grassroots organizations, and informal collectives across the City of Toronto to access grants of up to $1000. The extended deadline for applications is now January 15, 2024, in honor of International Volunteer Day.
The 2023 Toronto’s Vital Signs, released by the Toronto Foundation, highlighted concerning trends in the city:
Participation in groups and activities has decreased by approximately 30% compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Toronto has been identified as one of the loneliest places in the country, with approximately 925,000 adults (37%) reporting feelings of loneliness on at least three or four days in the last week of 2023, a rate higher than the national average of 28%.
The volunteer rate in Toronto declined from 37% in 2018 to 25% in 2022, resulting in a loss of 300,000 volunteers.
The Power of Us microgrant program aims to address these issues by providing funding for projects that foster social connections, increase civic participation, and reduce loneliness. Some examples of eligible projects include neighborhood block parties, community gardens, park clean-ups, skills-sharing workshops, toy and food drives, and community sports tournaments or demonstrations.
Engaging with the community can have a positive impact on individual well-being, expand social support networks, and contribute to the betterment of society. By encouraging Toronto residents to participate in group activities and initiatives, the microgrant program seeks to reverse the trend of social isolation.
Last week the mainstream media expressed concerns about the city’s loneliness problem and encouraged readers to reconnect with neighbors, friends, and colleagues. This call to action aligns with the World Health Organization’s recent announcement of a new Commission on Social Connection, recognizing the global threat posed by loneliness.
With substantial microgrant funding available, this initiative presents an opportunity to revitalize the city and create a greater sense of belonging among its residents. Participants are encouraged to contribute to the interactive Civic Optimism Map, which serves as a source of motivation for others to re-engage in social activities and strengthen community bonds.