4 May 2024

Illawarra non-profits could share in $700k of community project grants

| Dione David
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Boy using a frame runner in a gym

Frame Running Wollongong has received funding from IMB Bank Community Foundation’s grants program three years in a row, allowing it to give more children with disability the freedom of movement and exercise. Photo: Frame Running Wollongong.

Illawarra non-profit groups can now apply for a share in IMB Bank Community Foundation’s 2024 grants program, with a pool of $700,000 up for grabs to support grassroots, community-led projects.

In its 25th year of community support, the IMB Bank Community Foundation will prioritise and fund a wide variety of important projects across the key themes of social, environmental, cultural, educational, community development and community connection.

Among the more than 900 grassroots projects across NSW, ACT and Victoria to which the foundation has donated more than $12 million since 1999, Frame Running Wollongong has benefitted from the grant program three years running.

Co-director Renee Jurgielan said the funding was critical to the organisation’s growth and success.

“Grants like this are where we get our funding,” she said. “The IMB Bank Community Foundation has been instrumental in broadening our reach. It has allowed us to grow and create our vision – an inclusive space where children with disability and their families can reap the benefits.”

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Frame Running Wollongong launched in April 2021, supporting six children with weekly sessions around a basketball court at the University of Wollongong. They have now spilled into three courts to support 30 children with disability and have 60 registered volunteers.

A ‘frame runner’ is a customised three-wheeled bike without pedals. The “runner” is fully supported by a saddle and leans against a chest support, propelling themselves with their feet.

Imported from Denmark, the starting price for one of these trikes is about $5000.

It’s worth every penny to give the Illawarra’s children with disability the chance to engage in exercise alongside their siblings and peers, but it’s an expensive endeavour.

Frame Running Wollongong now has a fleet of 35 frame runners, meaning every participant has their own frame runner tailored to their needs. Six of them came from IMB Bank Community Foundation, along with tracking monitors.

“It means we can track their heart rates, steps and distance covered and put it all into a spreadsheet, which allows us to tailor goals specific to the individual,” Renee said.

“It’s a great cardiovascular workout, but also that inclusion brings them such a sense of belonging and joy.

“It also gives the parents a chance to meet other parents of children with disability. We’ve started serving tea and coffee; sometimes people bring in cake. We’ve created a beautiful community around it and participants and their families really look forward to it every week.

“Best of all, because of generous grants like those we have received from IMB Bank Community Foundation, we’re able to offer it free of charge.”

READ ALSO Check out all the smiles at the Frame Running Wollongong Christmas party

IMB Bank Chief Executive Robert Ryan said the organisation was keenly aware that the funding couldn’t come at a better time for many community organisations.

“We know this year that a lot of people are doing it tough, and our community groups and charity organisations are never more important during times like this when cost-of-living pressures are heightened,” he said.

“Unfortunately, some organisations are finding it harder than ever to raise the funds they need to support their communities with vital programs, facilities, and resources.

“That’s why we are maintaining our investment to support our communities and those under significant pressure this year … to support the local heroes who commit their time, energy, and expertise to make our communities more empowered, connected, inclusive and sustainable.”

The foundation funds a variety of initiatives each year, including projects that help vulnerable people who may be suffering from mental health challenges driven by cost-of-living pressures, struggling to afford essential services, or cutting back on activities or expenses important for physical and mental wellbeing.

IMB Community Foundation Chair Jann Gardner said the community grants program aimed to address pressing social, environmental, and cultural issues while fostering education, community development and connection.

“From supporting initiatives with innovative recycling solutions in the ACT to enhancing healthcare services in the Hunter, to helping cancer sufferers look and feel their best during chemotherapy in Sydney, our grants program has always championed diverse projects from Australia’s Eastern Seaboard and Melbourne that foster inclusivity and resilience,” she said.

“We encourage community groups and non-profit organisations across our regions to apply and showcase their innovative projects that address local grassroots needs and enhance community wellbeing.”

IMB Bank Community Foundation funding applications are now open – visit IMB to apply by Friday 14 June 2024.

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