Join us

Aug 8: Vancity $1-Million Award Finalists Named

Vancity $1-Million Award Finalists Named

Vancouver, August 8, 2001 - Four finalists for The Vancity Award, a new, annual $1-million award that will be given to a BC-based non-profit organization, were announced today by Vancity Credit Union. The shortlisted finalists have proposed projects for a regional greenway, a youth theatre, a non-profit leadership centre, and a sustainability centre.

In September and October, Vancity members will choose the recipient of The Vancity Award by voting for the project of their choice. Voting will take place by mail, over the Internet and in Vancity's 39 community branches. The award will be presented in November, 2001.

The Vancity Award will invest $1 million each year in a community project sponsored by a non-profit organization that supports the social, environmental, or economic well-being of the community. Funding may go towards development, capital, operational, or endowment needs.

The shortlisted finalists are:

Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST)
BEST began in 1991 as a small cycling advocacy group, growing into a non-profit charity promoting the whole range of sustainable transportation options. BEST creates educational initiatives, hosts public events, provides resources to citizens and community groups, and campaigns strategically for transportation policy reform.

BEST is proposing the creation of a greenway for biking, hiking, walking, running and other activities stretching from New Westminster to Vancouver, "a ribbon of green winding through the communities of the Lower Mainland. It will carry commuters, children, weekend wanderers and tourists by foot, bike, rollerblade or wheelchair."

Green Thumb Theatre for Young People
Green Thumb, a not-for-profit theatre company founded in 1975, develops and produces topical Canadian plays for young audiences on contemporary issues, providing outreach to over 150,000 children and teenagers annually.

Its proposal involves the purchase and renovation of a property to house Green Thumb, part of a strategy to support youth participation in the arts, particularly the performing arts. "For 26 years Green Thumb Theatre has provided outreach to young people in our community, helping them with issues such as: racism, abuse and illiteracy. The project will leave a lasting legacy for the young people of Greater Vancouver."

United Community Services Co-operative (UCSC)
United Community Services Co-operative, established in 1998, comprises 66 non-profit societies, associations, foundations and co-operatives in BC. It serves its members through co-operative and entrepreneurial business relationships, exercising group purchasing power for its members and building on the best business arrangements and practices of members.

UCSC is proposing to construct or renovate a leadership centre to bring together the non-profit, voluntary and co-operative communities to share expertise in locating capital, fundraising, marketing, and to share technology, strategic planning and human resources. "With decreasing government funding, and increased competition for funds, we're asking a lot of our charities. (This centre will) bring together the community and voluntary sector in BC, forging strategic partnerships between non-profits, and building a strong, smarter civil society."

West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL)
Established in 1974, West Coast Environmental Law empowers citizens to participate in forming policy for, and making decisions about, protecting the environment. WCEL provides free legal advice, advocacy, research and law reform services and promotes progressive environmental law reform.

WCEL's proposal is to renovate or construct a state-of-the-art "green building" which would serve both as a showcase and model for sustainable construction in BC and Canada, and as a centre for non-profit and for-profit organizations engaged in the green economy, community development and urban sustainability. "The creation of this centre will help knock down barriers to green building and celebrate Vancouver as a visionary, socially conscious and environmentally responsible leader in the international community."

Response to The Vancity Award has been overwhelming, says Greg McDade, chair of the Vancity Board of Directors, with more than 190 applications received from a wide range of organizations throughout the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Victoria.

"The interest has been staggering--we received 193 'million-dollar ideas' from the community," McDade says. "The scope and diversity of the work being done by non-profit organizations in our communities is impressive and it has been difficult to select four finalists from among so many creative ideas."

"This process has allowed us to see some of the dreams our communities have. It makes you realize how many good ideas are out there, and how much work there is yet to be done," added Essop Mia, chair of The Vancity Award Working Group, which oversaw the application and shortlisting process.

Vancity is Canada's largest credit union, with $7 billion in assets, 269,000 members, and 39 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria. Vancity owns Citizens Bank of Canada, serving members across the country by telephone, ATM, and the Internet. Both Vancity and Citizens Bank are guided by a commitment to corporate social responsibility, and to improve the quality of life in the communities where we live and work.