The grants available will range from £20,000 to £1.5m and are designed to provide equipment and improve facilities, especially for disabled people and young people in the most disadvantaged areas.
Other priorities for funding will be projects that boost collaboration, income generation, cost reduction or relations within and between communities. Support is also available for large-scale infrastructure projects that encourage collaboration and resource sharing as a model for modernisation.
Seamus McAleavey, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action, welcomed the new funding. “These additional monies have been eagerly awaited by the voluntary and community sector,” he said. “I look forward to seeing this considerable investment delivering positive changes.”
The new fund adds to the existing £3m modernisation fund that arose out of the Task Force on Resourcing the Voluntary and Community Sector, £2m of which has already been allocated.
Earlier last week, social development minister Margaret Ritchie also welcomed the decision by the newly reinstated Northern Ireland Executive to endorse the cross-governmental strategy for partnership with the voluntary and community sector drawn up under the previous Northern Ireland Office regime.
The modernisation programme will be open to applications until mid October. Application forms can be downloaded from the Department of Social Development.