Acorn grants top $1m mark for the first time

File photo/SunLive.

A total of 157 charities, community organisations and scholarship or award programmes are set to benefit from $1.15M in funding in this year’s distribution round from the Acorn Foundation.

It's the largest funding to date and brings Acorn’s total distributions to the community to more than $6.5 million since its inception in 2003.

Acorn Foundation General Manager Lori Luke says local groups from the Western Bay of Plenty, from the Eastern Bay of Plenty in their role as a Local Donation Manger for The Tindall Foundation, and in other areas important to Acorn, donors are the recipients of the grants that have come from 90 different funds, 13 more than were distributed from last year.

“These funds reflect a combination of estates, living gifts, Community Group funds, Giving Circles and Workplace Giving programmes.

"It's an absolute pleasure for our team to make these distributions on behalf of our donors who have such a generous heart for our community.

"The recipients of these donations do important work in our region, sometimes in very trying circumstances, and we are delighted that we can contribute to their efforts.”

This year, nearly $200,000 will be paid out via scholarship and award programmes, including the Acorn Fiction Prize at the Ockham NZ Book Awards, the Page/Acorn Engineering Scholarships, Outward Bound, Dale Carnegie, Arts, Sports and Travel awards, and a variety of educational scholarships that ensure that young people receive a leg up to a bright future.

Over the years, more than 260 charities have been supported by Acorn donors.

This year, 19 organisations received Acorn distributions for the first time, including Dress for Success, Male Survivors Bay of Plenty and Omanu Surf Lifesaving Club. 10 different donor funds contributed more than $77,000 to Waipuna Hospice, Acorn’s largest recipient.

Lori says the biggest acknowledgement Acorn Foundation always wishes to make is to the incredible generosity of their donors that make these distributions to the community. 

“We recognise that this money will make a significant difference to the charities and organisations that receive it, and it will enable them to better focus on the amazing work they do every day in our region.”

The Acorn Foundation continues to use the results of the 2018 Vital Signs research report to help determine the areas of greatest need in the WBOP. This year, the target areas for funding included:

  • Housing and Reducing Inequity
  • Supporting Young Adults
    • Transitin from education to employment
  • Health and Wellness/Safety
    • Fcus on reducing the harm caused by drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and child abuse
  • Building Strong Communities
  • Caring for the Environment

Lori says as Acorn staff and Distributions Committee members evaluated grant applications and met with local organisations, the lack of social housing was consistently mentioned as the root cause of many social issues.  

“Bay of Plenty charities are seeing an enormous increase in the number of clients dealing with food insecurity, requiring budgeting and grief counselling, and experiencing both substance abuse issues and terrible cases of family harm that can be directly related to the lack of affordable, secure housing.”

Acorn Donor and Community Manager Margot McCool says the lack of social housing in the region is of significant concern.

“There has been a lot of discussion about how tough it is for first home buyers, but from our angle the critical issue is a severe lack of social housing across the region.

"Nationally, 4.5 per cent of housing stock is social housing, but in the Western Bay, it’s only 2.5 per cent. It’s no wonder so many of the agencies we support are under huge pressure trying to help families who are sleeping rough, in cars, or on couches, because there simply aren’t any social houses available.”

Lori says community foundations are playing an ever-increasing role across New Zealand in delivering sustainable funding to community groups and organisations and to major community projects.  

“It’s exciting to see the Acorn Foundation’s fund continue to grow and to see our donors choose a range of ways to contribute to the local community.”

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