CHARITIES are still in with a chance to gain a cash boost with a Gannett Foundation grant.

Imaginative ideas on how to benefit the community will be rewarded by the charitable arm of the US media firm Gannett, which owns Newsquest Media, publisher of the Dorset Echo.

Just over three weeks remain for registered charities in South and West Dorset to submit detailed applications to the Dorset Echo outlining how they would use the money.

The grants are designed to support projects that benefit a broad section of the local population or are seen to have lasting, positive effect on the community.

Imaginative and ambitious applications from causes and projects that take a ‘creative approach to local community needs’ are welcomed, along with charitable enterprises to fund individuals to obtain skills to benefit the community.

Last year Waterside Weymouth Community Forum received £1,247 to buy a table tennis table and a serving machine from Gannett.

The charity’s chairman Ken Whatley said: “It’s very useful and it’s helped the whole community.

“The Gateway group for people with physical and mental handicaps use it and for them, because they don’t necessarily know how to do it, they can stand at one end of the table and the machine sends the ball down to them and they hit it back.

“It’s a stimulus for them and they actually feel like they have achieved something. When they hit the ball back they are absolutely over the moon. Plus for our table tennis players the machine sends the ball down in various guises and it helps them to improve their game, so it’s an all round machine.”

He added he would recommend any charity in the area to apply for a grant.

He said: “It’s very simple application form and we are very grateful to have received it. We were looking to get a table tennis table but we were also able to get the machine thanks to the grant, so it was ideal for us.”

Successful applicants this year will include schemes for neighbourhood improvement and local problem-solving, economic development, youth development, education and cultural creativity, help for the disadvantaged or disabled and environmental conservation.

Applications will not be considered if they are from non-registered charities, intended to fund salaries or general running costs, political or regional organisations or state or privately owned schools – except special needs schools – or hospitals other than hospices.

Previous applicants who have been given a grant in the last two years will also not be considered during this round of funding.

Last year other successful applicants were the Dorset Search and Rescue (DorSAR), Dorset Youth Association for their Routes cafe bar and Dorchester Amateur Boxing Club.

To download the Gannett Grant 2011 application form click here Gannettapplicationform2011.doc