Apply by June 30: Activist Initiates Family and Community Education Fund Project in Sudbury

The Family and Community Education Fund (FCEF) supported a Sudbury project that is an example of how the fund can help develop young leaders in the union while serving the local’s goals of greater community connection.

While this project started before the pandemic, think about how activists and future leaders in your local could initiate, apply and steer a pandemic project (with the local’s approval, of course).

First Aid Course for Members and the CommunityUSW Local 6500 members at the local’s booth for Sudbury’s Labour Day celebrations in 2019. Chris Banks (second from right), promoted a free first aid course for members and their families

Last June, before COVID-19, Chris Banks, a Steward with USW Local 6500 in Sudbury, had just returned from his first session in the Leadership Development Scholarship (LDS) program. He was casting around for a “good works” project to take on as part of his LDS commitment.

Chris talked to President Nick Larochelle and Vice-President Kevin Boyd and got the go-ahead to apply for FCEF funding to host a free first aid course.

Chris did the legwork on the FCEF application with the blessing of the local. A few weeks later, he had $15,000 in funding to carry out his idea: offer a free first aid course to USW members and their families.

The project would build connection with the rank-and-file membership, bring more members (and, it turns out, their families) into the Steelworkers Hall and connect with the broader community.

Chris promoted the free course at Labour Day events, through mailings and email blasts. Chris contacted a local service provider, LifeSaver 101, to run the course, and the full-day session ran in March, just before COVID-19 shut down all activities at the union hall.

The first aid course participants included USW members, but also some of the member’s parents and children.

“That was the most interesting part – meeting the family members,” said Chris.

Some grandparents took the course so they would feel more comfortable looking after their grandkids. And for teenagers, first aid certification is helpful for babysitting qualifications.

Thanks to the FCEF, Chris was able to provide first aid kits at no cost to all of the participants.

Chris intends to make the free course available again – once the pandemic restrictions are lifted and it’s safe to do so.

Tap into Leadership Development Participants

Do you have any Leadership Development Scholarship (LDS) participants in your local? Mention the Family and Community Education Fund to them. All LDS participants have to carry out “good works projects” as part of the program and the FCEF can fund their project if it meets one of the four criteria and includes an education component.

Challenge activists beyond the usual suspects on the executive to do the legwork.

Applicants get to determine the scope and timelines of the project when they apply. And the FCEF is flexible.

Dollars are available and so is help. Eric is ready to work with your members to develop a project to suit your local’s needs. Contact Eric at or by text or phone at 705-207-1691.

What Kind of Project can you Dream up?

Get more ideas for virtual projects here.

Apply by June 30

The Family and Community Education Fund is open to all USW locals and the application deadline is June 30.

Solidarity will get us through the pandemic!

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