Stories we loved from the 191 in 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, we asked community foundations to share some of their favourite stories of the year. Here is Part I of highlights from the 191.


Bringing people together in Vancouver with On The Table

In 2017, Vancouver Foundation released a second report on loneliness and social isolation, called Connect & Engage, showing that many people in the city feel lonely and disconnected. In 2018, Vancouver Foundation resolved to take action, and celebrate their 75th anniversary in a way that would bring many different people together.

Individuals and organizations across B.C. were invited to host an On The Table event where their guests were asked to explore “What’s on your mind?” over food. Through this platform of gathering, sharing food, and talking, something special happened.

On Sept. 13, On the Table ignited hundreds of conversations in every corner of the province. More than 4,000 friends, colleagues, and neighbours got together to share meaningful conversations over food. Being face-to-face with each other truly made a difference. Anybody could be a catalyst for connection. When we share what’s on our mind, we find others who feel the same.

Please take a moment to explore the On The Table Community Reflections and Insights Report.

Manitoba community foundations raise more than $1M in the 2018 Giving Challenge

Community foundations across Manitoba raised more than a million dollars during their recent 24-Hour Giving Challenge, which was held on Nov. 17th. During the event, every qualifying $5 gift to a Manitoba community foundation was stretched by $1 from The Winnipeg Foundation (to a maximum of $2,000 per foundation) and a further $1 from the Manitoba government (to a maximum of $2,000 per foundation). Each $5 contribution was therefore stretched to $7. All 55 community foundations in Manitoba participated in the challenge. Many were also able to leverage additional funding from local community partners. This was the 24-Hour Giving Challenge’s fifth — and most successful — year. In all, more than 2000 individual gifts were made in the 24 hour period! The 24-Hour Giving Challenge is a part of Endow Manitoba, an initiative of The Winnipeg Foundation that promotes and builds our network of community foundations to strengthen community life in Manitoba. The Manitoba government has signed on to support the Challenge again next year.

Toronto explores social capital

In November 2018, Toronto Foundation and the Environics Institute for Survey Research released the Toronto Social Capital Study, a benchmarking report that takes stock of the city’s social assets and vulnerabilities.

Social capital — the relationships, trust and support residents have for each other — is critical to a good quality of life, a healthy population, safe streets, and economic prosperity. The Toronto Social Capital Study measured residents’ responses city-wide, across four dimensions: social trust, social networks, civic connection and neighbourhood support.

Through the findings in this report and the nine resident-led social capital and urban resilience projects launched concurrently, Toronto Foundation hopes to better understand how to support neighbourhood resilience in the face of increasing stresses.

Watch the video to learn more about the initiative.


Victoria’s first Food Rescue Distribution Centre

The Victoria Foundation has been involved in the issue of food security for a number of years, with one of its most significant achievements being the opening of the local Food Rescue Distribution Centre in 2017. The foundation recently shared the story of its journey towards this important milestone in the community, helping to build awareness about the space and program as well as for the work of the Victoria Foundation and its partners in addressing food security in the region. In the words of Victoria Foundation CEO Sandra Richardson, “when people work together to help others, this is the result.” Listen to Sandra speak about the initiative in this brief video.


In Columbia Valley, B.C., a new website matches new volunteers with organizations in need

In June 2018, the Columbia Valley Community Foundation launched Volunteer Columbia Valley (, a website that connects organizations with a pool of active volunteers. In doing so, the foundation responded to a need identified in its 2016 Vital Signs report, which found that 37% of respondents thought it was important to get involved to support and welcome newcomers in the community, and to help foster a greater sense of belonging. The project has gone from ideas to action very quickly. Since the website was launched, 160 new volunteers and 35 volunteer organizations have registered on the website. Through the service, placements have already taken place. For example, the Hospice Society has found two new end-of-life visitors and the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy found a literacy support worker. The Columbia Valley Community Foundation continues to improve and refine the site, recently unveiling new branding and logos. The website has been designed to be used in other communities. Learn more by visiting

Edmonton’s growing community of storytellers

The Well Endowed Podcast started as a pilot project by the Edmonton Community Foundation in October 2016. Two years, 34 episodes and one national award later, TWEP has enabled Edmonton Community Foundation to support and build communities of storytellers around the show. This is particularly valuable given the ongoing struggles of the city’s local media industry.

Not only does TWEP amplify the diverse voices of donors and grantees featured in its stories, ECF has gathered a varied community of contributing producers/journalists to tell those stories.

As an affiliate member of the burgeoning Alberta Podcast Network, TWEP is supporting other podcast producers in their work. Nearly a dozen independent podcasts produce their shows inside TWEP’s studio.

TWEP also supports the future of journalism through its internship program with MacEwan University’s Journalism department where young reporters gain work experience as they start careers.

This work was recognized in November 2018 with a gold medal for Best podcast in the Consumer Division of the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.

A rendez-vous with philanthropy in Quebec city  

On June 5th 2018, Québec Philanthrope held the 4th edition of its Rendez-vous with philanthropy at Québec City’s beautiful Musée national des beaux-arts. At the heart of the evening was a celebration of community and the theme of “women in philanthropy.”

More than 320 guests from the Québec city and Chaudières-Appalaches regions took part in the event that celebrated the gesture of giving (of time, expertise and funds), and the region’s strong culture of philanthropy, as well as its bright future.  

As Karen Bouchard, Director General of the Québec Philanthrope Foundation noted, “the raison d’être of this event is first and foremost about inspiring giving. The first of Québec’s ten foundations, Québec Philanthrope supports a range of causes and on behalf of more than 700 donors, gives more than $2.7M in grants each year to 500 community organizations, several of whom were present with us for the evening’s celebrations.” See photos from the evening celebration on Québec Philanthrope’s Facebook page.

A community foundation roadshow in Grey Bruce

In the summer of 2018, Community Foundation Grey Bruce took to the road for a series of pop-up granting ceremonies across southwestern Ontario. From June through August, the foundation roadshow toured Grey and Bruce counties, and distributed over $188,000 to support projects by 65 charities. An additional $176,000 in grants was disbursed to charities as directed by individuals and organizations who hold endowment funds at the foundation. Along the way, the Grey Bruce team met inspiring people and took in some spectacular sites, including the glorious limestone escarpment framing Wiarton harbour. They gathered in a sharing circle in the sunny gardens at M’Wikwedong Native Cultural Resource Centre in Owen Sound. They celebrated in full rainbow colour at the Kincardine Pride Parade and toured the Library and Food Bank at Saugeen First Nation Food Bank. They encountered old and new friends at Southgate’s Ruth Hargrave Memorial Library and at Lewis Park in Ripley. At each stop, they heard stories of amazing projects and local impact from charities and non-profit organizations, who are each working to make life better for all the people of Grey and Bruce counties. Learn more about the road show in the 2018 Grey Bruce Annual Report.

The community foundation acknowledges the sponsors who made the roadshow possible, including: Luckydog Motors, and Integra Design, Grey Bruce Boomers magazine and Bayshore Broadcasting.

Ottawa Community Foundation’s New Leaf Community Challenge grants to Youth+

The OCF’s 5th annual New Leaf Community Challenge, in partnership with RBC Foundation, presented a grant of $125,000 to Youth+, one of three finalists in a grant competition focused on tackling youth unemployment in Ottawa. The winner, Youth+ , is a collaboration of Youth Futures and Global Vision’s Connects programs. Its work will support 180 youth from diverse, low-income backgrounds to pursue careers in industries such as IT, clean technology, and tourism. The Ottawa Community Foundation’s New Leaf Community Challenge program, which was introduced in 2014, supports organizations in collaboration and encourages a systems-level approach. “Our collaboration with the OCF over the past two years has strengthened both organizations’ funding activities related to youth employment in Ottawa,” says Glenn Sheen, Regional Director, Community Marketing and Citizenship, RBC Foundation. “Today’s event is further proof of the benefits of the partnership.” Watch a highlight video of the event: produced by Hot Shoe Productions, winner of the 2017 New Leaf Community Challenge and now a successful social enterprise.

A new one-stop solution for youth wellness in Penticton

In early 2018, the South Okanagan Community Foundation | Similkameen purchased a three-story, 21,000 square foot building located at 501 Main Street in Penticton to create a brand new Youth Resource centre, a one-stop solution for youth wellness and services in the community. This exciting and innovative project will bring together a range of partners to bring health and social services in a single place to make it easier for young people in the community to find the care, connections and support they need. To date, the community foundation has raised over $1.5 million of its original $3 million goal. Once the mortgage on the building is paid down, the building’s operating revenue will create $150,000 in annual youth granting. Learn more about the project.

Serving Selkirk soup for the soul with Warm Up Your Belly Cook-Off

This holiday season, Selkirk & District Community Foundation teamed up with Manitoba Hydro to create the Warm Up Your Belly Soup Cook-Off to raise money for their Homes for All Fund.

Homes for All Fund recognizes and supports Social Housing described as housing operated by a non-profit agency or Canada Revenue Agency registered charity that provides accommodations that are affordable to people on low incomes.

The event was held at Holiday Alley — a community block party/festival that highlights local art, music, song, food and drink while adding to the community spirit of the region, including the City of Selkirk, and municipalities of St. Andrews and St Clements, Manitoba.

Initiatives to heal settler-Indigenous relationships on the Sunshine Coast

Following the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, many community foundations across the country have moved to support initiatives aimed at healing the relationships and between settler and Indigenous communities. On the Sunshine Coast, community leaders have launched the Syiyaya Reconciliation Movement, a series of projects that will build community engagement in the process of reconciliation. The first project, which the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation is pleased to help fund, involves community members in weaving friendship blankets. “We are very excited to be working with three master weavers,” says Cam Reid, Foundation Board member and one of the movement’s founders. “Community members will help to make the blankets, which will be hung in prominent places where they can be widely appreciated.”

Access to a camp experiences for youth in Brandon, Manitoba

In 2018, the Brandon Area Community Foundation made a special $12,000 grant to Camp Wannakumbac near beautiful Clear lake in Manitoba. The camp provides a creative and educational experience outdoors for urban and rural youth. The camp works in the natural surroundings to instill a significant contribution to social, physical, and emotional growth. Learn more about the camp and the experience it offers Manitoba youth.

National Philanthropy Day in Abbotsford

On November 15, 2018, the Abbotsford Community Foundation held its annual lunch to underscore National Philanthropy Day and the Fraser Valley’s strong history of giving. More than 150 people gathered, and reflected on carrying this legacy forward with a younger generation of philanthropists. As the event’s keynote speaker, the Honorable Ed Fast MP, was concluding his “Give Where You Live” remarks, guest Ian MacDonald of KidsportBC surprised him in a classic ‘photobomb’ moment onstage. Ed was a great ‘sport’ about it all, marking the end of another successful event of this kind.

Have a story to submit? Let us know. We’ll feature more in early 2019!

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