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The IMB Bank Community Foundation will pledge another $500,000 to support local projects in the areas in which it operates in 2017 and it now needs to hear from potential funding recipients.

In its 17th year, the Community Foundation has donated more than $8.1m to 550 projects – 207 of which have been in the Illawarra region – with the community benefit to the funding of local projects having long-term social benefits.

In 2016, the Foundation funded Green Connect, a community project that wanted to expand its services beyond what it was already doing in the Illawarra.

With the financial assistance it received, Green Connect has now employed six people – refugees and young people – and received help from 200 volunteers to cultivate 4000 square metres of land at Warrawong High School into a food production area.

Produce grown on the urban farm will then be sold to families in the Illawarra region, with the funds obtained from the sale going back into the project.

IMB Bank CEO Robert Ryan said the Green Connect project was an excellent example of a project that delivered significant long-term social gains.

“We are looking for projects to fund that have flow-on benefits to the local community which are sustainable into the future.

“Another good example is the Men’s Shed movement and the Foundation has funded a number of different Men’s Shed initiatives. We know the community benefit of Men’s Sheds is widespread and of immense value with positive outcomes for the mental health of retired men.

“I would urge all new or existing community groups and social cause organisations that want to establish new programs to apply to the IMB Bank Community Foundation,” Mr Ryan said.

Applications open today and close on February 24 2017. Go here to download the form.