Earlier today, Mayor John Tory announced funding to the community services sector through the COVID-19 Vaccine Engagement Teams Grants. The grants were established to fund not-for-profit organizations which play a critical role in increasing confidence in and access to vaccines across Toronto. Consortiums of community organizations and grassroots, resident-led and faith-based organizations/groups were eligible to apply for this one-time funding of $5.5 million to carry out work between April 2021 and March 2022.
A call for proposals was issued on March 10 to agencies with capacity and readiness to undertake vaccine engagement work. The deadline for applications was Monday, March 29 at 12 p.m. and the awarded agencies were notified on April 7.
The City has prioritized equity in its COVID-19 response since the beginning of the pandemic. One of the first initiatives was the Community Coordination Plan, which aims to ensure there is coordination and communication between City, United Way and community organizations. Ten geographic clusters and three non-geographic clusters (Indigenous-serving agencies cluster, city-wide agencies cluster, and the Black Resilience cluster) have been established.
The Vaccine Engagement Team Grants were built on equity data analyzed by Toronto Public Health. Six of the 10 geographic clusters were identified to receive enhanced supports as part of the TO Supports Equity Action Plan in December 2020. Recognizing that these areas have and continue to experience disproportionate COVID-19 spread and impact, collaborations in the following clusters were recommended to receive an allocation of $500,000:
Updated Toronto Public Health data demonstrates that key neighbourhoods in the North York cluster have high rates of COVID-19 infection and vulnerability based on rates of hospitalization, poverty, racialization and people living in crowded accommodations. As such, the North York cluster will also receive $500,000.
The remaining three geographic clusters will receive $400,000 per cluster to support vaccine engagement:
All Vaccine Engagement Teams are expected to engage with Black and/or Newcomer communities. Additional grants of $400,000 each will be made to support the work of the Black Resilience and Newcomer clusters.
Community agencies will establish Vaccine Engagement Teams as one piece of the City’s Immunization Community Engagement & Mobilization Plan, which is founded on the social determinants of health such as race, income and food security, housing, and disability, to drive targeted equity actions for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. This builds on the COVID-19 Targeted Equity Action Plan and Community Cluster Program to enhance the City’s equity measures to support residents disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Awarded consortiums will use a variety of approaches to increase vaccine confidence and access including:
A full list of awarded agencies and a map of areas in which engagement teams will work are available at: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-protect-yourself-others/covid-19-vaccines/covid-19-city-immunization-program/?accordion=vaccine-engagement-teams.
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