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Georgian Bay Biosphere granted International Award

Airbnb Community Fund grants awarded to 120+ non-profits around the world

Parry Sound – Georgian Bay Mnidoo Gamii Biosphere (GBB) is one of the non-profit organizations selected to receive a $25,000 USD award from the Airbnb Community Fund. It is a global initiative that aims to give back to the communities where Airbnb Hosts live.

“We are delighted to be one of the 2023 Community Fund recipients,” says Dr. Becky Pollock, executive director of the GBB. “It is an honour to be recognized globally as an organization making an impact in our communities.”

GBB is a non-profit charity based in Parry Sound that serves the UNESCO biosphere region of eastern Georgian Bay. Stretching from Port Severn to the French River, it contains 347,000 hectares of coastal shoreline and inland lakes, and habitat for 60 species at risk. Designated in 2004, the organization has worked for 20 years to create a sustainable and vibrant community through partnership projects that connect people and place. 

“Everyone within our Biosphere region has a role to play. It is important to promote eco-tourism across rental properties, including Airbnb Hosts,” says Pollock, “and we have enjoyed presenting workshops on ‘How to Make Your Property More Sustainable’ to help owners reduce environmental impact and gain significant energy and cost savings. Guests are often looking for hosts that offer composting, natural products, electric vehicle charging, and bicycles or eBikes to explore the area. Airbnb Hosts in Parry Sound-Muskoka have been committed to a number of best practices, and reducing their overall climate impact, which is great to see.”

2023 Community Fund recipients

The Airbnb Host Advisory Board, a group of 23 Hosts that represent the global Host community, nominated organizations including: Take 3 for the Sea in Australia, Japanese Service Dog Resource Center in Japan, Wildlife Act in South Africa, Albergo Etico in Italy, Instituto Mandaver in Brazil, the Hispanic Wealth Project in the United States, and the Georgian Bay Mnidoo Gamii Biosphere in Canada.

Airbnb Hosts identified organizations working to make a difference in areas important to their communities, including environmental sustainability, economic empowerment, ending abuse and exploitation, mental health, and safe housing, among others. This year’s Community Fund grants support both larger national and regional organizations that address issues identified by the Host Advisory Board and hyperlocal, community-based organizations chosen by local Host Club members.

Jennifer Schnier is the Canadian member of the Host Advisory Board for Airbnb and is a co-leader for the Parry Sound Muskoka Host Club on Facebook, with 450 members. Most recently she is working with a team of hosts coast to coast that has created a website known as Sustainablehosting.ca which is a site for hosts of any short-term rental to access free sustainable solutions.

Schnier is also the Director of Sustainability for the Township of Georgian Bay and sees a strong relationship between the Township, the Biosphere and Airbnb, especially as communities try to enforce regulations where environmental concerns are a priority. 

“As a member of the Host Advisory Board, it was a privilege to have the opportunity to nominate a non-profit that truly works with hosts and municipalities in our area. I polled my host community in our area, and the Georgian Bay Biosphere was highly recommended. Add to that, Dr. Pollock came with her team to our Earth Day Clean up in 2023, alongside countless hosts, so it was a perfect time to recommend an organization close to home.” 

Schnier is one of 23 members of the Airbnb Host Advisory Board which was founded in 2020 to help shape policies and programs. She further adds: “My work in the Host Advisory Board is concentrated on Sustainability. This team at the Georgian Bay Biosphere provides education and practical tips for hosts, a win for everyone, and it is my honour to recognize such a worthy organization through this nomination.” 

Giving Back to Communities

The Airbnb Community Fund will distribute $100 million to communities between 2020 and 2030. In 2023, $10 million was awarded to organizations on six continents, including nearly $8 million directed by recommendation of Airbnb Hosts. Fund recipients include local community-based organizations and larger national and regional non-profits.

According to officials: “To date, the Airbnb Community Fund has distributed more than $25 million to organizations in 60 countries, with Hosts providing guidance each year. Created in 2020 as part of our commitment to share our success with our stakeholders, the Airbnb Community Fund will distribute $100 million by the end of 2030 to strengthen communities around the world.” For the full list of award recipients, visit: https://www.airbnb.com/e/communityfund.

Staff from Georgian Bay Biosphere (Allison Covert, Dr. Becky Pollock, Benjamin John)
lead a workshop on sustainable properties for Parry Sound-Muskoka Airbnb Hosts on
Earth Week, 2023 (credit: J. Schnier).
Parry Sound-Muskoka Airbnb Hosts sustainability workshop at Inn at Christie’s Mill in.
Jennifer Schnier, Host of Oak Bay Luxury Getaway in Port Severn.
Parry Sound-Muskoka Airbnb Hosts participate in an Earth Day Clean Up in 2023

Support Your Biosphere

With your support, we can expand our impact in the Georgian Bay region through conservation and education.

We are a registered Canadian charity #87100 1335 RR0001