Important dates

Open for applications: 9 am (MST), November 10, 2023

Application deadline: 11:59 pm (MST), January 10, 2024

Funding decision notification: March 2024

Overview

The Small Community Opportunity Program (the Program) provides grants to tackle challenges and tap into opportunities in rural areas. Indigenous and small communities, as well as non-profit groups they work with, may receive between $20,000 and $100,000 for local projects. By building capacity in the agriculture industry and small business, these rural communities will grow their economic footprint.

Eligibility

Eligible applicants

Indigenous communities, Metis Settlements and small communities may apply if they meet the following characteristics of rural communities:

  • have a population less than 20,000
  • have a limited geographic proximity (approximately 100 km or further) to population centres with more than 25,000 people that could provide employment and services
  • may be remote or have in them, or around them, a significant amount of nature, natural resources, agricultural land and wilderness areas
  • have a workforce largely focused on primary economic activity, including oil and gas, agriculture and forestry

Eligible rural communities may work together or independently on local projects, or they may collaborate with non-profit organizations that are:

  • non-profit entities incorporated under Part 9 of the Companies Act or the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act with an economic development mandate
    • a federally incorporated non-profit must partner with a provincially registered non-profit
  • a legal non-profit entity located in Alberta that is owned and controlled by an Indigenous community that has at least 51% ownership

Eligible projects

Eligible projects must align with one or more of these strategic directions in the Economic Development in Rural Alberta Plan (the Plan):

  • rural business supports and entrepreneurship
  • support for labour force and skills development
  • marketing and promoting rural tourism
  • rural economic development capacity building

In addition, the project must address one or more of these priority areas:

  • entrepreneurship and mentorship
  • skills development
  • small business supports
  • partnerships, inteconnectivity and collaboration

Projects must be completed within 2 years from the date the grant agreement between the Government of Alberta and the recipient is signed. Grant recipients must ensure their project will be sustainable beyond the 2-year funding and have a measurable impact supporting, improving or enhancing one or more of the following:

  • rural and Indigenous communities
  • local economic development
  • the agriculture sector

Ineligible projects

Projects will not be eligible for grants through the Program if they:

  • focus on regional economic development
  • support economic development enabling infrastructure

Funding may be available for these types of projects through Alberta’s Northern and Regional Economic Development Program.

Funding

Applicants may apply for grants between $20,000 and $100,000 for each project. The grant may fund up to 90% of eligible project costs and the applicant must fund at least 10%.

Eligible project costs

Project costs eligible for the grant include:

  • skills development training
  • training equipment and supplies
  • salary expenses for new staff to deliver a project
  • equipment and supplies to deliver the project, such as computers, software, office supplies and more
  • eligible travel costs for hotel, meals and mileage based on the Alberta Travel, meal and hospitality expenses policy
  • promotion and marketing activities related to the project
  • project administration up to 10% of the total eligible project costs
  • any other expense the Government of Alberta deems eligible under the Program

The project must commence when funding is distributed and be completed within 2 years. Large projects may receive funding installments, with most funds provided at the onset.

Matching funds

Applicants may cover their portion of eligible project costs by matching funds from their organization with monetary payments, awards and donations, or grants from one or more of the following:

  • municipal government
  • federal government
  • for-profit enterprises, non-profit organizations and post-secondary institutions
  • private sector programs, such as corporate social responsibility initiatives

Grant recipients cannot receive any other Government of Alberta funding for their project or related activities. As well, the program will not accept in-kind contributions.

How to apply

Step 1. Read the guidelines and the plan

Step 2. Gather required documents

The guidelines list the documents applicants need to refer to when completing the online questionnaire. Make sure to have these documents on hand before filling it out.

Step 3. Complete the online application form

Applicants can apply online until 11:59 pm (MST), January 10, 2024. Start the process by creating an account to access the application form. With an account, applicants can log in and out and complete the form whenever it is convenient.

Complete the application form

After you apply

All submissions go through a multi-stage review process, starting with an administrative screening to check for completeness and eligibility under the grant guidelines.

A selection committee will complete a competitive review process that evaluates the project based on the following categories:

  • description and opportunity
  • alignment with capacity building priorities and strategic directions in the Plan
  • economic impact
  • budget
  • management
  • agriculture-related

As the Program has limited funding, not all eligible applicants will be awarded a grant. Applicants will be notified about the status of their submission by email.

Reporting

The grant agreement outlines the reporting requirements and schedule. Recipients must regularly report on the project’s financial status and outcomes achieved. If the project scope or deliverables change after the Grant Agreement is in place, the recipient must contact the Program. Both parties must agree to amend the Grant Agreement to accommodate the changes.

Contact

Connect with the Small Community Opportunity Program:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Toll free: 310-FARM (3276) (in Alberta)
Phone: 403-742-7901
Email: [email protected]