By Stuart Mann
Parishes in the Diocese of Toronto can now apply for funds from the diocese to help them sponsor refugees.
The diocese, which has earmarked $500,000 for refugee work, will make the money available to parishes in the form of matching grants.
Diocesan Council approved how the funds will be disbursed at a meeting on Jan. 16. The funds are a tithe from the diocese’s Ministry Allocation Fund.
The maximum grant a parish can receive will be based on its annual revenue. Parishes with total annual income of less than $250,000 may apply for a grant of up to 50% of the total cost of the sponsorship; parishes with income between $250,000 and $500,000 may apply for up to 35% of the total cost; and parishes with income greater than $500,000 may apply for up to 15% of the total cost.
For parishes with income above $500,000, the amount of financial assistance requested from the diocese should be for a more ambitious sponsorship – in particular, the number of family members being sponsored – than would otherwise be undertaken by the parish.
The matching grants and funding formula are intended to provide opportunities for the greatest number of parishes to actively participate in refugee sponsorship while also ensuring that the greatest number of refugees are being assisted to come to Canada.
Although consideration was given to the possibility of directing some of the funds to support overseas work with refugees, such as through the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, the committee felt that the extension of the federal government’s matching funding for donations to programs in Syria decreased the potential impact of the tithe, and that the limited amount of funds would be better directed to the practical engagement offered through refugee sponsorship.
The diocese will work closely with AURA (the Anglican-United Refugee Alliance,) a FaithWorks ministry and the official sponsorship agreement holder for the Diocese of Toronto, in implementing the matching grants program. Parishes wishing to access the funds will be asked to demonstrate that, apart from lacking adequate funds to fully fund a sponsorship, they meet all other basic requirements set out by AURA, including the existence of a steering committee, proper screening for all volunteers, and participation in AURA’s training programs.
The funds will be used to assist refugees not only from the Middle East but from other parts of the globe, such as Africa and Asia. While the focus may be primarily on Syrian refugees, there are refugees throughout the world who are eligible to come to Canada if local groups are prepared and able to sponsor them.
There will be two rounds of applications. The initial round of applications is due by March 15, 2016. Following this, if funds remain, a second round of applications would be invited, with a deadline of May 15, 2016. Completed applications should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to the attention of Ryan Weston, Diocese of Toronto, 135 Adelaide St. E., Toronto, Ontario M5C 1L8. Download the application form and guidelines.
There are currently 59 parishes in the diocese taking part in or interested in taking part in refugee sponsorships. As of Jan. 9, parishes were in the process of sponsoring 37 refugees, of which four families have already arrived.