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While CIRA's first priority is the safe and secure management of .CA, Canada's online identifier, we also have a mandate to do good things for the Internet to benefit Canadians. Over the past few years, we have put in place a number of initiatives to support the development of the Internet in Canada.
Some of our past community efforts have been technical in nature, such the development of Internet Exchange Points across the country. Others have been more focused on Internet governance, such as our Canadian Internet Forum. We have also supported a number of other organizations who support the advancement of the Internet in a broad range of fields, including digital literacy and the development of technical skills among youth.
But, CIRA does not have a monopoly on good ideas. There are numerous other Internet-related initiatives across the country that contribute to the advancement the Internet at a local or national level, or among certain key populations. Recognizing this, we launched our .CA Community Investment Program in 2014 to identify and support these initiatives in an effort to broaden CIRA's support of a strong Internet for the benefit of all Canadians.
To date, the .CA Community Investment Program has supported 29 projects with $1.2 million in funding and we will invest at least another $1 million in 2015. .CA registrations help support this important work.
Project funding from .CA helps non-for-profit and community organizations, as well as research institutions innovate and complete projects that will measurably improve the Internet for Canadians.
The projects we funded last year are starting to reach their milestones and are beginning to make an impact. For example, the Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council has created a web portal that functions as a centralized accessible online resource for rural First Nation communities in Alberta to assist in treaty interpretation, social advocacy, historical claims and genealogical research. A member of the project team stated that, “Our project will benefit all First Nations in Alberta. There is no central repository for records in northern Alberta and our operating budget has been significantly cut. One of our top goals in the creation of this website was to reach out to local communities and other First Nations in Alberta to drive traffic into our Archives. Since we launched the website in October 2014, our website traffic has shown a 45 per cent visitor return rate.”
Another project that recently launched is “Menteer” (a combination of peer and mentor), a mentoring app launched by volunteer-run Career Skills Incubator in Toronto. The Menteer app connects mentors and mentees based on communication style, industry expertise, goals and other factors. Career Skills Incubator has launched the application open source, allowing other organizations to use it at low (or no) cost.
Starting on February 4, the .CA Community Investment Program will begin accepting applications for funding on CIRA's website. The application period is open until March 6. If you know an organization that could benefit from our support, please let them know about the .CA Community Investment Program.