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The money will be available over the next three years or until used up, whichever occurs first. It is available to non-profit organisations within the trust area, which includes Southland, Queenstown, Glenorchy, Arrowtown, Tapanui and Heriot.
"We’re very excited. This is a new funding opportunity for the region, in addition to the $6.5 million grants budget already available for this financial year," chief executive John Prendergast said.
He said trustees and staff had been developing the fund and grant criteria for about six months and were still not exactly sure how to define "innovation", or how groups would respond.
"But we know we want to encourage new ways of thinking ... out-of-the-box projects, fresh approaches, creative ideas or new solutions that have the potential to make a significant difference in the community."
The fund was not available for buildings, facilities or capital projects because they would "gobble up" the $1 million too quickly, he said.
There is a two-stage application process. Groups can submit expressions of interest from Monday via the trust’s website, www.ctos.org.nz, after which applicants approved by the trust will be invited to make a full application.