Defunded since 2018 and in the process laying off our staff and reducing community programs, the ‘Keep OPIRG Brock Alive’ Campaign is using as many options as possible to work towards sustained funding sources. With many of the options to help out listed below, the easiest way to think about it is if 1000 people sign up to donate $5 per month for a year, half of its previous annual operating budget could be raised for the year ahead (for more details on this option, see the Patreon option listed below).
For folks less familiar with OPIRG Brock’s work, it aims to connect activists and support initiatives that both served our community and engaged students. As the Niagara based chapter of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (hence OPIRG), it is connected to a network of chapters throughout Ontario – all focused on mandates of social, economic, and environmental justice.
Since 1988, OPIRG Brock has been home to infoshops, documentary nights, bike repair workshops, and supports for different activist groups at BrockU and in the region (referred to as Action Groups). At BrockU, some of our past projects have been support the creation of community gardens, advocating that water fountains rather than vending machines be the primary source of water, and helping BrockU to gain Fair Trade Status.
At the university, we supervise 10-20 intern placements in the Public Health, Women & Gender Studies, CPCF (Communications, Popular Culture, and Film), and Geography and Tourism. These students work with the OPIRG Brock staff and volunteers to build up programs. OPIRG Brock also is a founding member of the Niagara Social Justice Coalition – a collaboration with CUPE 4207 and the Brock Student Justice Centre (SJC) to host the ‘Impacts of Ford in Niagara Campaign’ (please join us for the first public coalition meeting on January 15!).
Most recognizably, OPIRG Brock organizes the Free Store. This program takes donations of things people are no longer using but are still functioning and pass them along to people who could use them. Our other programming includes co-hosting the Anti Oppression Workshop series with the Brock SJC, as well as events throughout the year such as The Coming Out Monologues, Brock Pride Week events, co-hosting the 2SLGBTQ+ film series with The Film House and Brock SJC, and supporting events like the Global Climate Strike and the monthly Niagara Reproductive Justice meet-ups. This year we also published the DisOrientation Guide to Niagara, a 14-page book OPIRG Brock produced as a consolidated guide to alternative, affordable, and independent options in St. Catharines and throughout Niagara.
In 2018, OPIRG Brock lost our second de-funding campaign within a year, which resulted in our annual levy of $7.50 per undergrad student being removed. Due to an administrative agreement that followed between BrockU and the Brock University Student Union (BUSU), we are no longer able to access the referendum process and thereby regain the option of student levy. With a much longer discussion about the additional issue of the Student Choice Initiative brought forth by the Ontario government, the most important thing to know is that we have to build something new – a financial structure which isn’t reliant on one source of funding and is dependent on the political leanings of those with power.
As such we have to turn to our multi-tiered financial survival plan, a combination of fundraising events and raffles, monthly crowdsourcing, grants, donations, and any other creative idea. To help our efforts to ‘Keep OPIRG Brock Alive’, please go through this list and see where you can plug in.
- Talk to your networks about OPIRG Brock, our work, and our need for help – whether Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, email, family dinner discussions, church bulletins, running groups, board meetings, talks with your Uber driver, and/or all spaces in between.
- Become a monthly sustainer using Patreon – use our web option that allows you to make monthly payments to OPIRG Brock to support our work and get perks in return (non-web option for monthly payments is also an option).
- Donate & receive a Community Connect Discount Card – by a one time $20+ donation to OPIRG Brock or CFBU, you can get a range discounts to local businesses like Mindbomb Records, Fine Grind Cafe, and Green Lotus (full list on opirgbrock.com and cfbu.ca).
- Become a member of OPIRG Brock – individuals, community organization/ groups (Action Groups) and businesses can become members of OPIRG Brock, which means greater access to the governance and opportunities we offer!
- Co-host a fundraiser with us! We know funding is an issue for many – so if your space or group is thinking about hosting a fundraiser let’s combat isolation and work together!
- Private Donations and Sponsorships – here’s looking at you big companies in the city and departments/ faculty at BrockU who want to be more invested in social justice!
- Raffle Donations – we are aiming to host monthly raffles, which let us further promote your business!
- Host an in-office fundraiser. Maybe you could host a raffle or a Community Connect Discount Card selling drive in your workplace!
- Come to our fundraising events – stay tuned for more details on a community dinner and a potential 80s/90s telethon…
- Get involved with the campaign – If there is anything from the above list you think you could help with, please get in contact!