Vital Grants - Looking Back & Looking Forward

The Backstory

Five years ago, CBT launched Vital Grants, a stream of partnership funding to address regional priorities and complex challenges that influence sustainability in the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region. Vital Grants were created in response to grantee feedback that small grants (e.g. $5,000) and short timelines make it difficult to address larger issues. From 2018-2021, Vital Grants supported:

  • 13 collaborative regional projects,
  • $250,000 in direct funding,
  • 10 organizations, and
  • 3 grants to partnerships led by non-qualified donees.

Above: reception celebrating the first Vital Grants in 2018

In 2022, we wanted to look back to understand the impact that Vital Grants are having through a program evaluation. CBT allocated the Vital Grants budget to engage grantees in this work and to provide them with small follow-up grants in reciprocity. The goal was to continue supporting existing projects while learning from project leaders about how the granting process worked for them and how to make it more equitable.

The Evaluation

CBT was grateful to work with Trilby Smith, an independent program evaluator with experience working toward equity and social justice, on this review. With grantees, she explored the funding process, grant scale, accessibility, and overall impact. Check out Trilby’s full report here.

The evaluation was completed in three stages:

1) document review (e.g. grant applications, committee review minutes, grant reports),

2) interviews with Vital Grants recipients, and

3) hosting a community conversation to discuss the steps forward.

Above: the Vital Grants community conversation in November 2022. 

What we learned

The feedback was generally positive with grantees valuing: the diversity of work funded, the partnership focus, and CBT’s flexibility and responsiveness to grantee needs. However, we also heard: the duration of the grant was too short, grantees needed more support during the application process, and there needs to be more transparency about the decision-making process. 

Steps we’re taking for Vital Grants 2023

As a grant-making organization seeking to best and most equitably serve the region, we’ve come a long way but there is still a long way to go. Some of the next steps that CBT plans to take this spring for Vital Grants 2023 are:

  • move to a two-stage application process;
  • piloting providing a small amount of funding to applicants that are invited to submit a full application;
  • increase transparency and inclusiveness of the grant evaluation process;
  • expand grant outreach and provide additional CBT staff support to applicants; and
  • test multi-year funding.

For full details, check out the Vital Grants Review report

Join us for our Annual Biosphere Region BioBlitz!

April 2, 2024
On Saturday, April 20th, participate from anywhere within the biosphere region to celebrate the upcoming Earth Day! It’s an excellent opportunity to step outdoors and learn about the amazing biodiversity in the area.

Grant Writing Workshop

January 26, 2024
Join this half-day workshop hosted in partnership with the West Coast N.E.S.T. (CBT's regional education tourism initiative) to learn effective grant writing and fundraising strategies.

Good News for the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Centre Project!

January 17, 2024
In a remarkable display of commitment to community and environmental stewardship, the Wickaninnish Inn has pledged an astounding $150,000 over the course of five years to support the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Centre. In a generous gesture, they have already contributed $40,000 as their inaugural installment.

Announcing the fall 2023 Culture Neighbourhood Small Grants!

December 6, 2023
We are excited to share this list of grass-roots community projects that received Culture Neighbourhood Small Grants (NSG) this past fall cycle. This has been our most successful cycle to date, with a total of 33 projects in the region, 15 projects for Clayoquot Sound NGS and 18 for Ahousaht NSG!

Holiday Giving Unites Communities

December 4, 2023
As the holiday season draws near, the timeless tradition of holiday giving beckons, transcending cultures and religions, and embodying the spirit of generosity and compassion. In the heart of this global tradition lies an opportunity to make a positive impact on local organizations that sustain our region to help advance their mission far beyond the holiday season.

Truth, Honour & the Way Forward

November 20, 2023
In partnership with Ucluelet Secondary School (USS), the Legacy of Hope Foundation, and Canadian Heritage, the CBT hosted an exhibit to honor the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Take a look at the video to learn more about the event.

CBT's Youth Intern, Reflects on her Beach Cleanup Experience

August 28, 2023
This summer, CBT's Youth Intern, Janessa, has been supporting us in a wide range of projects across the organization and also participated in initiatives hosted by other local non-profits. One of our goals was to offer her the opportunity to experience diverse types of work as well as acquire skills and knowledge in many different fields. Learn about her time with Surfrider Pacific Rim where she helped remove debris from a local beach.

Join our team as Administrative Assistant

August 18, 2023
PLEASE NOTE: Applications are now closed for this position.  The Administrative Assistant will support the CBT across all program areas. The successful candidate will coordinate the day-to-day administration and operations of the CBT office, creating a welcoming space, updating administrative practices, and maintaining records. They will work closely with the Executive Director to support the Board of Directors, as well as work closely with the Finance Coordinator to assist with bookkeeping processes. The Administrative Assistant will work across the CBT to support our programs and events.

Announcing the Spring 2023 Neighbourhood Small Grants!

June 27, 2023
We are excited to share this list of grass-roots community projects that received Neighbourhood Small Grants this past spring cycle. NSG makes empowering, accessible opportunities for residents from all demographics to make their communities more inclusive, and vibrant places to live. Check out the projects below and reach out to if you want to connect to a project leader and participate.

National Truth and Reconciliation Exhibit

June 13, 2023
Here is a video that was created last year in partnership with the Ucluelet Secondary School, the Legacy of Hope Foundation, and Canadian Heritage to honor the second annual day for Truth and Reconciliation. We have partnered again this year to bring this impactful youth-led learning opportunity for our third annual exhibit.

Hišinq – “All Together”

June 12, 2023
Have you heard that the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust (CBT) is building a Biosphere Center? You might have read about it online or in local print media, maybe you heard it on the radio, or perhaps you joined us for the open house that took place at the current CBT office. However, you might not be aware that the CBT has been working on this project for over a decade and has taken many steps to create a space that will serve and reflect the values held by each community in the region.

We're looking for a new team member! (PDF) 221.42 KB

April 21, 2023
PLEASE NOTE: This position has been filled. The Clayoquot Biosphere Trust is seeking an intern to provide support for a range of projects across the organization. This position will provide opportunities to work alongside and be mentored by different team members, learning about and providing administrative support for projects aligned with the candidate's skills and interests.