The 2015-16 Challenge Fund is now open for applications from community groups and schools from across the North. There are two categories, Community Action and Environmental Education
The announcement follows the recent launch of the Natural Environment Fund, which seeks to support environmental NGOs in tackling Northern Ireland’s most acute environmental priorities.
In launching the scheme at Compass Advocacy Network’s “Scrapheap Community Challenge” project site in Ballymoney, which received Challenge funding last year, Mark H Durkan said: “This is a great opportunity to support the tireless legions of grass roots organisations and schools who are passionate about improving their own environment. I have seen at first hand the value of the work carried out by these groups. I have been highly impressed by the levels of partnership working and volunteer enthusiasm. I commend them for this work.
“Scrapheap Community Challenge is a fantastic, innovative and imaginative project that clearly shows how the carrier bag levy monies is benefiting some of the most vulnerable in our society. At the same time it is helping foster and cement working relationships, dispel prejudices and benefitting the local community and environment.
“Challenge Fund projects over the past two years have also delivered excellent social benefits. I am keen for this to continue. That is why, this year, we are particularly welcoming proposals seeking to help our society’s most vulnerable groups.
“Recently I launched the Natural Environment Fund for NGOs. The focus was on ensuring local communities benefitted from funding. This new Challenge Fund complements that. Both initiatives are funded by monies from the Carrier Bag Levy which I pledged would be directly pumped back into the environment and for the benefit of everyone.
“I have listened to the feedback from previous grantees, and am pleased to announce an earlier launch with the fund opening for applications from today, 1 June 2015. I encourage communities and schools to now apply for grants from the Challenge Fund.”