Field Law launches micro-funding program

Applications opened today for Field LLP’s new Community Fund Program, which will provide $75,000 for worthy initiatives in Calgary, Edmonton, and Yellowknife.

The Western and northern regional law firm is inviting communities in Alberta and the Northwest Territories to nominate projects, particularly those focused on education, health care, at-risk youth, homelessness, women’s organizations, sports, community and arts and culture.

“Field Law cares about the communities we work and live in,” said managing partner Jim Casey. “We are eager to go beyond the practice of law and help get good ideas off the ground that will have a measurable and ripple effect on the community.”

The money will be divided as follows: $30,000 distributed in Calgary; $30,000 in Edmonton; and $15,000 in Yellowknife.

It will be up to three judging panels to determine how the money is allocated in each community. For example, in Calgary the judging panel could award 30, $1,000 prizes or, if they think one cause needs the whole amount in that year they may do that as well.

The judging panels will be made up of lawyers and staff from Field Law and community members. Each community will determine the winning applicants and the amount of each award by comparing initiatives against the judging criteria and factoring in the online votes.

While the firm already financially supports a number of different causes, based on client feedback from a recent survey it decided it wanted to get the community to help it decide where to give next, says chief marketing officer Simone Hughes.

“We wanted to get into more of the micro-funding where it can effect real change with closer communities. So for example, someone may be seeking seed funds to improve a park or school yard — we wanted to provide an outlet for that kind of project.”

Applicants must clearly define the purpose for the funds requested and how the money will be managed for the duration of the implementation of the initiative and have a measurable impact in the community by 2014. Judges will consider factors such as originality, how much the community will benefit from the idea and whether it will generate a “pay it forward” effect.

Qualified ideas will be posted online, where visitors can vote for their favourites. Voting will close on August 31. Judging panels will also consider the number of positive votes when awarding funding.

Applications will be accepted until July 24 and online voting ends Aug. 31. Winners will be announced in September.

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