Canadian students aged 30 or under can now register for the Canada Student Service Grant. The details of the grant program were announced June 25, and registration is open until August 21, 2020.
The grant program is one of several relief measures for students first announced in April. Since many traditional summer job opportunities for students have evaporated during the COVID-19 pandemic, several relief programs have been implemented to help students financially.
The Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) provides grants of up to $5000 for students and recent graduates who volunteer at non-profit or charity organizations in positions that support Canada’s response to COVID-19. The amount of the grant is tied to the number of volunteer hours accumulated: every 100 hours equals $1000 in grant, up to a maximum of $5000. Students can volunteer at multiple organizations to accumulate eligible hours.
The CSSG provides opportunities to students to gain valuable experience, help with Canada’s COVID-19 response and recovery, and receive some money.
Students can search for volunteer opportunities on the I Want to Help program site. To qualify, the organizations offering volunteer positions must register on the I Want to Help platform. Many organizations have posted positions already, and more are being added daily.
If a student finds a suitable volunteer position on their own that is not registered on the platform, they can ask the organization to register the position with I Want to Help so that the volunteer’s hours qualify for the grant.
To qualify, the volunteer service opportunity must:
- take place in Canada
- support Canada’s response to COVID19
- comply with public health guidelines
- provide a meaningful experience for the volunteer, and
- be a minimum of two hours a week for four weeks, between June 25 and October 31, 2020.
Additionally, the service opportunity cannot replace a previously paid position, nor can it be involved in lobbying or advocacy that provides financial benefits to the organization.
Students in paid employment are still eligible for the CSSG, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria and serve at least 100 eligible volunteer hours.
Students can receive the CSSG even if they received the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), or if they received a microgrant from the Canada Service Corps program. However, students who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), are not eligible for the CSSG.
Grants are usually considered taxable income. Be sure to check the current tax rules when you file your 2020 income tax return next year.
For information or to register, go to the I Want to Help website (www.jobbank.gc.ca/volunteer). There, you can check the eligibility requirements, search for volunteer opportunities, and register for the program. Then you’ll need to track your qualifying volunteer hours and report them to the CSSG program supervisor assigned to you. You have until October 31, 2020 to complete your volunteer hours and submit your application to receive grant money.