For Immediate Release: November 9, 2021
The Rural Communities Foundation of Nova Scotia (RCFofNS) has signed on to the Canadian Philanthropic Commitment to Climate Change pledge. RCFofNS is the first organization in Atlantic Canada to do so. Currently, more than 25 philanthropic actors have signed on to the CPCCC pledge in its first month. The pledge is the first of its kind and commits signatories to integrate climate considerations in all areas of work.
RCFofNS is committed to taking a leadership role in empowering communities to meet the challenges of climate change and has been working directly on climate change issues since 2019. Still, the foundation is quite different from other signatories to the pledge, being one of only two community foundations throughout Canada and the only foundation to stress the needs of rural communities. “We are small but scrappy,” said Sherry MacLeod, Chair of RCFofNS. “We are led by a group of volunteers from around Nova Scotia who care deeply about our communities and are committed to working towards a future where sustainability, economics, and quality of life are linked together for a positive future. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing rural Nova Scotia and we are determined to do what we can”.
Much of the RCFofNS’s present work around climate change comes through the Joan Feynman Climate Change Fund (formerly the Community Sparks Fund), which provides matching funds for community-based projects throughout Nova Scotia. The fund seeks to foster innovation, creativity, and leadership and to create a community of climate change problem solvers who have the resources they need to take on larger projects in the future. “We are trying to reach as many communities as possible, and to empower that crucial place where ideas become action,” said Susan Hirshberg, who volunteers as the fund’s coordinator. “We know that each community is different, with its unique history and specific people who want to make something happen. That’s why we are highly flexible about the types of projects we fund.” In the past years, the fund has supported climate change projects relating to science, education, community spaces, the arts, support for youth climate leaders, and more.
The Joan Feynman Climate Change Fund is newly named after Hirshberg’s mother who died last year during the pandemic. “My mom was a groundbreaking scientist who worked with her colleagues early on to draw attention to the threat of climate change. She desperately hoped people would take real action as soon as possible, so I think she’d appreciate this legacy. I intend to spend the rest of my life working on climate change issues however I can,” Hirshberg said. Though it started funding youth projects, the fund has expanded and RCFofNS aims to fund several million dollars’ worth of projects in the next decade. RCFofNS also plans to engage community members throughout Nova Scotia by creating several regional climate conferences that include discussions and potential solutions that, with mentorship, others may create themselves.
Rural Communities Foundation of Nova Scotia (RCFofNS) has been making small grants to rural community organizations since 2004, in an accountable and transparent way. Its grant programs have supported local groups whose work is focused on youth, environment, leadership, seniors, and rural innovation in the province, including Mi’kmaq communities.
For more information, contact: Sherry MacLeod, Chair, Rural Communities Foundation of Nova Scotia (RCFofNS)