Tradies grant program funds a greener future

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DREAM TEAM: Woolooware Public School students work on an environmental project funded by an iPromise grant.

DREAM TEAM: Woolooware Public School students work on an environmental project funded by an iPromise grant.

Much more than a club, Tradies Gymea has been part of the region for almost 60 years and continues to support its members by re-investing in the community.

General manager Jason McMaster said the non-profit organisation had donated more than $800,000 to community and junior sporting organisations, as well as re-investing in the club's services and facilities.

"We're invested in the future of our community, our members, our team and our environment," Mr McMaster said.

"As well as the donations we pay above award wages for our staff, try to implement sustainable practices where we can and encourage environmental sustainability.

"It all comes down to something very simple - and that's caring.

"We care about our members, so we try to offer value and quality in all our products and services.

"We care about our community, so we donate hundreds of volunteer hours and thousands of dollars every year to organisations who support people in need.

"And last, but certainly not least, we care about our environment and the future generations who will grow up here, so we implement sustainable practices and try to encourage environmental sustainability wherever we can."

Mr McMaster said Tradies started a program called iPromise Grants in 2014 with $2000.

"We sent a letter to local schools to see if anyone was looking for funding for environmental projects," he said.

"We were really excited that we received 12 applications because it meant that at least 12 schools in our community were interested in sustainability.

"From there, the iPromise Grants continued to grow and word spread beyond the Sutherland Shire.

"This year, we had a grant pool of $20,000 and received 55 applications."

A panel of experts from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry & Environment, Rana Environmental, and Power Waste Management help the club to work out which projects will have the greatest environmental impact.

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"The best part is knowing that there are so many people out there in our community who want to teach the next generation about preserving our environment and living sustainably," Mr McMaster said.

"Our most recent round divided the $20,000 grant pool between 13 schools and preschools from as nearby as Gymea Preschool all the way to Toongabbie Public School.

"Some of the projects include beekeeping and using wax to make sustainable products such as beeswax wraps, expanding school kitchen gardens, installing energy saving light systems and introducing waste streams to encourage recycling and divert rubbish from landfill.

"To date, the iPromise Grants have donated $85,894 to 51 sustainability projects across NSW.

"It is the only stand-alone grants program for environmental sustainability run by a club in NSW.

"The unique nature of the iPromise Grants and the on-going commitment from Tradies to promote environmental sustainability was recognised by the Australian Business Awards in 2018 when the program won an ABA100 Award for Community Contribution," Mr McMaster said.

The iPromise Grants will reopen in March 2020 with another pool of $20,000 to support environmental sustainability projects.

To join the mailing list and find out more about the grants you can email greenteam@tradies.com.au.