The CIRA Community Investment Program

15 Sep. 21
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For Canadians living in the country without access to high quality or high performance internet, the ability to take advantage of online opportunities is slim. This is why the CIRA Community Investment Program seeks to provide grants, funding, and infrastructure for providing connective services and operation solutions for Canadians with poor quality internet. This aims to help them lower their costs, and improve the sovereignty they hold over their data. In fact since 2014 alone, CIRA has provided up to $9.2 million in funding, for over 185 projects all across the country. They have grants of up to $100,000 and one up to $250,000 available to fund infrastructure, digital literacy, cyber security, and community leadership programs. The CIRA program also seeks to prioritize and fund programs which benefit students throughout all grade levels, or Northern, rural, and Indigenous communities.

Grants and Funding:

  • Infrastructure: One of the main aims of the CIRA has been to increase the number of Canadians with access to high quality, and highly maintened internet. Not only does this mean that CIRA funds the research neccessary for setting up their infrastructure, but they also provide the connectivity services in some cases, and assist with creating operation solutions for businesses and individual groups alike. For one, since 2014 they’ve installed fibre optic internet in Winnipeg rural communities. Additionally, CIRA has provided wireless networks for every household in the Samson Cree First Nation’s Reserve in Alberta. This supportive infrastructure helps to allow citizens to become more productive in their daily lives, as well as improving the economic and commercial functionality of the area by improving the connections and speeds of local businesses.
  • Digital Literacy: In addition to providing the infrastructure for high quality internet in Canada, CIRA aims to improve the overall digital literacy and skills of Canadian citizens and professionals alike. They fund groups who research and provide educational frameworks for computer literacy, provide learning resources and tools, as well as training programs for those across Canada. They’ve helped countless elementary and high schools across Canada understand complex concepts such as AI and Machine Learning, and also offer after school programs and camps to better the digital skills of young girls and women.
  • Cybersecurity: One of the most important aspects of digital literacy is an indepth understanding of cybersecurity knowledge, safety from cybersecurity threats, and to be literate about the risks of using the internet. CIRA funds research and education frameworks for cybersecurity courses and classes, as well as providing tools and training programs to help increase the vigilance of Canada’s internet users. They’ve done digital security conferences for journalists and human rights workers who deal with sensitive data on a daily basis, as well as assisting children with protection from cyberthreats and other problems for their age groups such as cyber bullying.
  • Community Leadership: Engaging with, supporting, and strengthening communities is another important aspect of CIRA’s work. They want to create vibrant and resilient internet communities, both domestically in Canada as well as across the globe. They accomplish this by funding events, performing police research, and helping to bring awareness to the public about domestic internet policies and governent. They also advocate for increased digital access to lower income communities, and use their abilities to support First Nations communities in increase their overall digital access as well.
  • Funding Restrictions for CIRA Grant Programs: The CIRA does not fund projects focused on online services, requests to fund travel and expenses for third party conferences, projects focused on web design, development, and deployment, or projects which offer generic IT training. Additionally, they do not cover equipment for individual use, fundraising appeals, ongoing core operation funding (staff salaries, administrative features and programs, etc), retrospective costs, marketing activities, or projects where the primary geography focus is outside the country of Canada.

Eligibility:

Organizations which are recognized by the Canadian Revenue Agency as either a registered charity, not for profit organization, or academics and researchers who are affiliated with a Canadian university or college. Additionally, the organizations must be based in Canada, and must primarily seek to benefit Canadians.

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