More than $250,000 was shared out to groups doing community work last year, through Hastings District Council's Contestable Grants Fund. Applications to this year's round are being accepted now.

Last year the 22 projects ranged from cooking classes for the elderly and making community radio programmes, to a wild cat trapping project and the digital archiving of historic Hawke's Bay photos. The grants ranged from $2000 to $30,000, with an average of $11,400.

Each year the council funds projects that provide services or run programmes that address specific needs in Hastings.

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The priorities are: helping youth into training and jobs; helping new and existing businesses to provide local jobs; providing help and advice for people in need due to aging and/or adverse circumstances; making improvements to the district which will attract visitors, students and businesses; providing programmes that reduce littering, wasting resources and crime; promoting participation in recreation, arts, and cultural activities.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst is encouraging all groups to get their application forms in before the deadline closes.

"The contestable grants available from our council have provided much needed funding to a range of organisations, which meet the needs of our community."

The mayor says the grants support projects that fit with council's priorities for building a safe, liveable and sustainable community.

"We have seen outstanding projects provided to support our youth, aged communities, recreation, arts and cultural activities."

Applicants need to have already raised significant funding toward their project through their own efforts or applications to local or national funding bodies, be able to set out the aims of the project and how the success will be measured, and the cost of the service.

They also need to supply their organisation's most recent annual report and financial accounts. Successful grant recipients must supply a report after the service or programme is completed, showing how the grant money was spent.

Applications close on March 31, for grants available from July 1; for more information see: