More than $4m has been gifted to Bay of Plenty community groups over the past year by BayTrust, an increase of almost 50 per cent.

The amount of money available had increased from $2.9m to $4.3m because the trust had built up its grant reserves in earlier years.

The organisation had 45 applicants for the first round of the Strategic Funding Round and yesterday they committed funding to 11 groups and projects spread throughout the Bay of Plenty, from Hospice to housing to youth engagement.

Successful Western Bay organisations include: the Graeme Dingle Foundation ($150,000 over three years for local Project K, Kiwi Can and Star programmes); Tauranga Community Housing Trust ($310,000 for their Waihi Rd social housing development); NZ Blue Light Ventures ($279,475 over three years for a new driver navigation programme in the Bay of Plenty); and The Royal New Zealand Plunket Society ($200,000 for a new Plunket building in Te Puke).


BayTrust chief executive Alastair Rhodes said a total of $2.4m was available in the Strategic Funding Round to fund projects that would make a measurable and meaningful difference and help make the Bay of Plenty the greatest place to be.

Graeme Dingle Foundation Bay of Plenty regional manager Dan Allen-Gordon said the grant meant more sustainability and growth to reach more children.

They would be able to introduce the Stars peer mentoring programme to Otumoetai College which would reach 550 children.

"In one region, a principal said, 'before our Stars programme a crisis at the school was a bloods and crips fight. Now a crisis would be two girls screaming at each other in the playground'."

The foundation would be supporting more than 3000 students in 2017, he said.

Blue Light chief executive Rod Bell said through the support from BayTrust NZ Blue Light Ventures would be able to run a three year trial where mentors would work with young people getting their learner license through to their full.

"When they get their full licences, they will be better skilled and there would be a lot less risks for them to breech their licences."

In the Bay of Plenty last year there were $1.8m in fines for young people up to the age of 24 for breaching licences, he said.

The move was also to prevent more deaths happening on Bay of Plenty roads and would hopefully be adopted across the country, he said.

BOP Plunket Society president Jandhe Troughton said the one-room Plunket clinic in Te Puke had been shunted between a number of temporary buildings in recent years.

The new building project had been a five-year effort led by passionate volunteers and would have space for Plunket nurse clinics, parenting education and playgroups, with a large outdoor play area.

"This is far-reaching funding that will make a tangible difference to Te Puke families, supporting and nurturing future generations in the town and surrounding area."