Overview of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority’s Community Investment Program

Over the past eight years, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) has provided over $9.2 million for nearly 200 projects across the country with its Community Investment Program. With a deadline just under a month away, Grants Office has decided to further explore this opportunity for our weekly blog post.

In recent years, CIRA exclusively funds projects that involve infrastructure, digital literacy, cybersecurity and community leadership. These priorities might change in a given year, depending on what CIRA views as most critical for Canadians in the cyberspace. Infrastructure projects might be connectivity research or operational solutions that increase performance. Digital literacy projects often include tools and training programs with a goal to improve digital literacy understanding. Similarly, cybersecurity projects usually involve research as well as tools and training programs to enhance internet safety. Lastly, CIRA funds community leadership events and policy research for awareness on internet policy and governance Additionally, they’re most passionate about providing these opportunities to northern, rural and Indigenous communities and students from kindergarten through post-secondary education.

In a standard year, roughly 20 projects are awarded, which is typically between 15-20 percent of applicants that apply. When applying to a program, it’s nice to know the odds, but what might be more impactful is to learn what kind of projects an agency enjoys funding most. Thankfully, CIRA outlines every awarded project, offering a snippet of activities that will be utilized with funding.

Here are descriptions of four projects from 2021, one for each funding priority:

Mamawapowin Community Network – Infrastructure

Mamawapowin Technology Society, a not-for-profit, brought high-speed, reliable connectivity to Ermineskin Nation, which is located in Alberta.

Towards Digital Equity: A Strategy and Roadmap for Indigenous Innovation and Technology – Community Leadership

First Nations Technology Council created a Digital Equity Roadmap for First Nations communities to achieve digital equity in connectivity and infrastructure, policy and legislation, skills development, employment and business development, tech and innovation leadership, and governance and self-determination.

Technical Lending Library in Regent Park – Digital literacy

The Centre for Social Innovation Institute received funds for the Technical Lending Library, designed for Toronto youth to access internet devices as well as learn about cybersecurity and observe device training.

Internet Security Governance & Training – Cybersecurity

Long Lake #58 First Nation received funds to secure internet infrastructure “to avoid cyber-attacks and protect data, develop an internet and information security policy to provide proper governance for their information assets, and provide internet security training to administration staff and community members on the safe use of the internet and governance policies of the administration.” (CIRA.ca)

Most grants are up to $100,000 per project. CIRA does reserve one grant for a $200,000, multi-year project. Applications are due April 13, although CIRA encourages applicants to apply by April 11 since they will notify the applicant if there’s a mistake. CIRA reports that neatly 50 percent of applications submitted have something wrong with it.

Please visit here https://www.cira.ca/community-investment-program to learn even more about the Community Investment Program.

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