Coming up with the right project idea is one of the biggest challenges to getting started with a Neighbourhood Small Grant. You want to do something to bring your neighbours together —but what?

The purpose of Neighbourhood Small Grants is to strengthen connections between neighbours and engage residents in the life of their community. More connected neighbours feel more ownership in their community and a desire to make their neighbourhood a better place to live.

So how do you come up with a project idea that achieves that?

Start small

“If this is the first time that you are doing a Neighbourhood Small Grants project, you may want to think of a smaller project that you can easily undertake,” says Meseret, our Neighbourhood Small Grants program manager. “Bringing neighbours together can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be.”

Hold a social gathering

Neighbourhood gatherings such as block or apartment complex parties are a great first way to invite people out of their homes to get to know one another.


Here are some tips to make your gathering or event a success:

  • Get a permit from your municipality or permission from your property manager
  • Identify people who can help you spread the word, or volunteers who can help
  • Make sure you invite everyone from the apartment or block. Print posters, go door-to-door, and tell everyone you meet about it
  • Have plenty of food and drinks — you can use the grant to cover the cost of this
  • Include games and activities for all ages
  • Make a playlist!
  • Think about other art projects that might be fun to include
  • A Facebook group is a great way to help neighbours stay connected

Share what you know

Many great Neighbourhood Small Grants projects come from sharing skills, ideas or materials that you already have with others in your community.

What could you share with others? Maybe you want to share your canning and preserving skills with youth in your community. Perhaps you have a passion for repairing bikes. You might even have extra gardening tools you want to swap for a leaf blower with your neighbours.

How to make your sharing event a success:

  • Make sure your activities are interactive and give everyone a way to contribute
  • Help participants leave with new knowledge, skills, contacts or materials they can use
  • Encourage others to learn how to put similar events. The more sharing events in your community, the more opportunities for neighbours to connect and engage.
  • Talk to your neighbours
  • If you’ve had social gatherings in the community in the past and you already know your neighbours, this is a great chance to team up on a group project.

You could:

  • Brainstorm possible project ideas with them by asking what they would like to see in the community and invite them to help out with the project
  • Think of ways to change your annual project so it continues to be creative, inspiring, appealing and relevant. For example, your block party could have a specific theme this year (emergency preparedness, local food, music, etc.) with activities geared towards teaching people new skills and knowledge
  • Ask what your neighbours, local businesses and organizations can offer and the different ways they can get involved in developing and carrying out your project

Here are some examples of how collaborative projects can work:

  • The residents in your building might contribute different dishes for a potluck
  • Your local grocery store or drugstore could sponsor prizes for the children’s games you are planning to include to your event
  • Artists in your community could work with the children and youth in the neighbourhood to organize a music show
  • Youth looking for volunteer opportunities can help you to translate or extend invitations to the newcomer families in the neighbourhood

See what others are doing

You can get project ideas by exploring what other people who have received neighbourhood small grants have done, and then building on that idea for your own community.

Project Planning Resources

Be sure to check our Stories as well as Events for ideas of what other people are doing. We’ve also put together a toolkit of Resources for project leaders.

Look at some project ideas from Portland to bring people together and make neighbourhoods vibrant

The Big Lunch initiative from the UK has practical tips on organizing a block party and other ideas

We hope this has been a useful read on your journey to applying for a Neighbourhood Small Grant. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

If you’re ready to get started, click here to go to the application site.

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News and announcements about the Neighbourhood Small Grants program. Updated by staff at Vancouver Foundation and network partners.