Community Champions is about helping good work grow

Image of a GERTIE bus
GERTIE (Gabriola Environmentally Responsible Trans-island Express) is a public bus service and pilot project. Island Futures, the Gabriola-based, registered non-profit society which facilitates the waste vegetable oil-powered GERTIE bus system, won a 2013 BC Hydro Community Champions award.

BC Hydro program funds conservation, sustainability projects across B.C.

As a Crown corporation with business operations across the province, BC Hydro has to be a good corporate citizen. While providing reliable, effective electrical service is our top priority, we also focus on helping the communities we serve.

That's the belief behind BC Hydro's community investment initiatives, and in particular, the signature Community Champions program.

The program offers $10,000 awards to non-profit or community organizations doing work focused on sustainability, conservation or the environment. Past recipients include:

2014 finalists selected, and public voting is underway

Larina Lopez, senior manager of community investment, engagement and public education at BC Hydro, says Community Champions is about helping good work grow.

"What we want to do is strengthen organizations and communities that are doing things to make B.C. more sustainable. For us, it's about investing in the future of B.C.," she says.

BC Hydro still directly funds organizations through other donation and sponsorship programs. But Community Champions goes a step further in connecting communities with local organizations operating in their region. Although finalists for the awards are selected by BC Hydro on the strength of their application, three of the five eventual winners are chosen by popular vote.

According to Lopez, what BC Hydro sees from the program is a chance to offer funding to areas that B.C. communities truly value, and to organizations that are committed to creating real, lasting change.

Building those relationships and enhancing communities in this way can have a significant impact, and make a real difference in how communities view BC Hydro.

"For so many customers, the only interaction they have with BC Hydro is through their bill," says Lopez. "But organizations like the ones we're able to support through Community Champions touch so many people in the community. So if we're able to build a relationship with that organization, we see that extend into the community and truly make a difference for everyone."

Local schools key to Community Champions success

Vital to community involvement are local schools. BC Hydro works with public schools across the province to encourage them to get involved by chosing their favourite finalist and showing support for their selected organization online.

Classrooms that participate are eligible to win one of 25 awards of $1,000 to put towards conservation projects at their own school.

2014 finalists selected, and public voting now open

The application period for Community Champions always draws high-quality applicants, says Lopez, and there's no shortage of organizations doing great work.

This year's batch of finalists is no exception. 12 finalists have now been selected and public voting is open to select this year's Community Champions.

From the 12 finalists, five deserving organizations will receive Community Champions awards after voting closes November 30, 2014.

See this year's finalists

Check out past Community Champions recipients and learn about their projects