A Fitting Tribute

January 4th, 2013

Many of the 2,500 funds at The Winnipeg Foundation pay tribute to remarkable individuals who have shaped our community in a variety of ways. Some have done so very publically – playing key roles in business, politics and community leadership. Others have chosen quiet acts of generosity that will be felt for generations to come.

One of the newest of these funds honours someone who has served our community throughout his distinguished career as a lawyer and as a jurist as well as through active volunteerism with a wide variety of causes. Early this year, Richard J. Scott will retire from his post as Chief Justice of Manitoba, which he’s held since 1990. For friends, family and colleagues wishing to celebrate his years of service, the Chief Justice Richard J. Scott Tribute Fund has been established at The Winnipeg Foundation.

Chief Justice Richard Scott presenting a cheque to Manitoba Children's Museum, marking $100 million in cumulative grants achieved in 2001.

We’re very pleased to be home to the fund that recognizes someone who has been a long-time friend to our Foundation. Richard Scott served on the Foundation’s Board of Directors from 1990 to 2005, and as Chairman from 2001 to 2005. His tenure included incredible growth and important milestones. During his Chairmanship, the Foundation received a stunning $100 million gift – still the largest to a Canadian community foundation, reached $100 million in cumulative grants, and made the largest grant in our history – a $6 million contribution to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. During this time, the Foundation also proved itself an innovator and leader through the Centennial Neighbourhood Project, a 5-year, multi-faceted investment into one of Winnipeg’s most economically- and socially-challenged neighbourhoods.

While all these large-scale gifts, grants and projects garnered headlines, the Foundation continued, under Richard Scott’s steady leadership, to receive thousands of gifts from donors of all walks of life and make thousands of grants to a wide range of important community projects. Today, he remains an ambassador for the Foundation and chairs our Board Alumni Committee.

On behalf of The Winnipeg Foundation, I’m pleased to congratulate the Chief Justice on his retirement and thank him for his tremendous support and commitment to improving our community.

You can make a gift to the Chief Justice Richard J. Scott Tribute Fund, or any fund at the Foundation, through a secure on-line gift, over the phone, or by mail. Visit www.wpgfdn.org or call 204.944.9474.

“Thank you” x 208!

November 29th, 2012

Winnipeggers are fiercely proud of our city and no one likes the fact that we are often portrayed as the child poverty capital of Canada. There are many factors that play into this reality—some economic, some demographic and some matters of public policy. To say the least, the situation is very challenging. How can we as individuals have an impact?

The Nourishing Potential Fund was created after consultation with agencies that serve the least advantaged kids in our city. We set two goals. First, Nourishing Potential would distribute, to youth-serving organizations, a total of $1 million over the five-year period from 2011 to 2015. And second, in order to sustain grants of at least $200,000 per year beyond 2015, we would try to build the capital in the fund to $5 million over the same period. These are not insignificant or easily achieved objectives, but we are making steady progress.

Just recently, the Nourishing Potential Advisory Committee reviewed the fourth round of applications to this program and, with these approvals, 57 grants totaling $362,796 have now been distributed. These grants help cover the cost of food, equipment and training for after-school programs that provide snacks and meals to Winnipeg kids.

Kids in the new kitchen at Rossbrook House.

Because Nourishing Potential was created in consultation with the community, it is not surprising that this new granting program has been well received. Early reports are consistently positive about the value of augmenting food budgets and teaching kids about good nutrition.

Everything that has been accomplished so far is because of 208 generous donors to the Nourishing Potential Fund. Like all funds at The Winnipeg Foundation, Nourishing Potential is supported by people from all walks of life: individuals, families, groups—and of course, companies, foundations and government agencies as well.

To each and every one of the 208 generous donors who have so far supported the Nourishing Potential Fund, your gifts are making a real difference not just for today, but for the long term. On behalf of the thousands of Winnipeg kids who are benefiting, we thank you.

Tonight I sleep on the sidewalk at Portage and Main

September 27th, 2012

We all know there are homeless people in our city – people who live under bridges and sleep on cardboard boxes. Last week, we learned of a person walking downtown with no shoes. It was an international story that at once showed our city at its best: a bus driver who cared – and at its worst: the challenge of social inequity

That inspiring example has helped raise awareness levels about homelessness. Last week, our Community News Commons website had 134,000 hits and our Facebook page recorded 25,000 “likes” as people followed the story. It was a fitting lead in the first ever Homelessness Awareness Week in Winnipeg

“Change for the Better” is an effort to mobilize the community around supportive housing and employment programs that offer solutions. Tonight, I’m taking part in their CEO Sleepout event. I’ll be one of more than 40 Winnipeg CEOs spending the night on Winnipeg sidewalks to help raise awareness and support for this important issue. The discomfort of sleeping on the street for one night is hardly similar to the larger realities that face the least advantaged of Winnipeg citizens. But it does offer a tangible opportunity to help

Not everyone will give the shoes off their feet. But, we always have the opportunity to support homeless people with a donation. Your gift to Change for the Better goes to a good cause and every gift matters. Go to Change for the Better’s website.

74 Inner City Kids earn $2,000 each – So Far!

September 14th, 2012

Most Winnipeggers have never heard of the “You Can Do It Awards,” but this new initiative has enormous potential to impact the lives of kids living in our most economically – and socially – challenged neighbourhoods.

Here’s how it works: interested donors contribute $295 to create a “You Can Do It Award.” This generous gift is matched by both the Province and The Foundation. The money is invested to earn some capital gains and, in the end, provides a $1,000 scholarship. These scholarships are given to kids in grades 5 through 12, selected according to criteria established by the School Board. Factors considered include: attendance, academic achievement, leadership and volunteerism.

In the first two years of the program, 440 “You Can Do It Awards” have been handed out to students at six inner-city schools. (Most of these award recipients wouldn’t even consider post-secondary education an option without the help of scholarships and bursaries.)

The Awards are held at the Foundation until the students are ready to attend college or university. Younger students have the opportunity to build up their funds over their years at school.

In reviewing the names of the student recipients from June 2011 and June 2012, it is interesting to see that 74 students have now won two awards. This means that The Winnipeg Foundation is holding $2,000 in their names — and counting — a significant contribution to the cost of attending college or university.

Carly McMillan, Foundation Donor Relations Officer, handing out 2012 awards at William Whyte School

I think it is pretty amazing that for $295, anyone can give a deserving, hard-working kid $1,000 toward the cost of their post-secondary education. We all know that “education is a ticket out of poverty” and this program is certainly opening students’ eyes to future possibilities.

We look forward to presenting more awards in the spring of 2013 and watching the program grow. If you’d like to help build hope and opportunity for an inner-city student through the You Can Do It Awards, contact Pat Lilley (plilley@wpgfdn.org) at The Winnipeg Foundation.

London 2012 and Future Opportunities

August 15th, 2012

This month, most Canadians spent at least some time watching the Olympics. There is plenty of drama as athletes from around the world share the pride of wearing the colours of their country. All are remarkably dedicated and have made huge investments in their training. There often seems very little difference between those who make the podium and those who do not. Fractions of seconds divide the glow of success from the disappointment of missing a medal. All in all, London provided a beautiful background to this celebration of the human spirit.

At The Winnipeg Foundation, we were particularly interested in the Women’s Eight Rowing event. One of the silver medal-winning crew, Janine Hanson, is the daughter of our past Chair, Gregg Hanson. We’ve heard many stories of her hard work over the past years and know that her family and friends are justifiably proud of what she and her teammates have accomplished.

As Winnipeggers, we are also proud of Clara Hughes phenomenal accomplishments. There are certainly others besides these two women who could be mentioned as proof positive that Manitobans can compete at the world’s highest levels and succeed.

Looking to the future, one of the great challenges for Winnipeg is to ensure that every young child has the opportunity to develop their potential. In our city, there is a divide between those who have some affluence and those who have very little. We are regrettably raising two classes of children. Most of us remember the movie “The Blind Side” which tells the true story of how a supportive family environment enabled a poor kid from an American ghetto to become a star football player. No one wants to think about stars that never have a chance to shine.

Our vision is “a Winnipeg where community life flourishes” and one of the ways our donors work to accomplish this is through grants that give children access to recreation opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach for their families – whether it’s a chance to attend summer camp, take to the field as part of the Inner City Soccer League, or a safe neighbourhood green space where they can run and play. Of course, there is no measure of public policy or philanthropy that can equalize talent, but there are ways to equalize opportunity. We’re proud to work with donors from all walks of life to help Winnipeg kids feel like champions.