Leading with community

Photo: Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada, 2017. The Winnipeg Foundation celebrates its 2016 year and announces that cumulative distributions to the community had reached $400 million.

Throughout the 2010s, The Foundation engaged in new and innovative programming to support the community, while seeing steady growth in grants distributed and contributions received.

The Foundation marked its 90th anniversary in 2011 with a public celebration at the Manitoba Museum and by hosting the 90-Hour Giving Challenge. The 90-Hour Giving Challenge encouraged gifts to charities’ Agency Funds and was hugely popular, resulting in 2,465 gifts totaling more than $400,000.

Also in 2011, The Foundation launched Nourishing Potential, an initiative dedicated to ensuring young people have access to healthy food, and to the equipment and education needed to prepare that food. Learn more about Nourishing Potential – Access to healthy food a ‘recipe for a success’.

In 2011, The Foundation distributed $22.1 million to the community, and received $22 million in contributions. By 2019, those numbers had grown to $57.5 million in distributions and more than $252 million in gifts.

The Foundation believes a more informed community is a more caring and equitable community. That’s why it launched its public media project, Community News Commons (CNC), in 2012. For five years, CNC successfully trained hundreds of people on how to create multi-media online journalism, paving the way for the publishing of 3,000 stories, thousands of photographs, and numerous video and audio segments, posted by a diverse and energetic group of citizen journalists. Visitors from around the block and around the world consumed and commented on the stories, pictures, video and audio posted on the CNC website. The initiative was a partnership between Knight Foundation, Winnipeg Free Press and Free Press Café, Winnipeg Public Library, Red River College, 93.7 CJNU and The Winnipeg Foundation.

That same year, The Foundation launched Growing Active Kids to help support educational, recreational and cultural activities for Winnipeg youth living in and around social housing neighbourhoods. Read more – Supporting programs that help kids be kids.

In 2014, more than 1,800 youth aged 14 to 29 graded our city in 15 key areas in The Foundation’s Youth Vital Signs project. This experience paved the way for the development and release of Winnipeg’s Vital Signs® 2017, a snapshot of life in Winnipeg. The report measured the vitality of our community, identifying significant needs and trends by combining research with the results of community surveys and conversations. Vital Signs identified four areas of pressing concern in our community: reconciliation, belonging, well-being and lines that divide. As an immediate response to these findings, The Foundation launched a Reconciliation Grants Program, which worked with an Advisory Committee to distribute more than $1 million to the community in support of projects that support truth and reconciliation. Read more – Committing to learning and growing on our shared journey of truth and reconciliation.

Another lasting legacy of Vital Signs are The Foundation’s ongoing Vital Conversations, which bring community members together to learn about and discuss topics of interest. The Foundation held a number of in-person events between 2016 and 2020 and is currently reviewing its approach in light of COVID-19.

In 2015, working with community partner CJNU Nostalgia Radio (93.7 FM and online), The Foundation launched River City 360, a weekly radio show featuring views and news from around Winnipeg. The show rebranded in 2019 to be called BeCause Radio and continues to broadcast its hour-long show each week.

With the goal of building the capacity of, and creating visibility for, Winnipeg’s charitable sector, The Foundation launched its Fast Pitch coaching program in 2016. Charitable sector leaders are paired with business sector coaches to develop the pitches, which are eventually delivered in front of a live audience for a chance to receive awards for the organizations represented. Fast Pitch presenters receive professional development sessions to develop their storytelling, stage presence, confidence, and case for support.

“I learned so much, being a participant, that my gratitude is bottomless,” said 2020 award winner Susan Berthiaume, who is a Coordinator at Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad.

Continuing its focus on research, in 2018 The Foundation produced a report which found that while commitment and passion are strong, Winnipeg’s charitable sector as a whole is under incredible stress. The report, called Stressed, Stretched and Still-Standing, took a closer look at Winnipeg charities through in-person focus groups, online and telephone surveys and by reviewing Canada Revenue Agency tax filings of 439 Manitoba-based charities.

In 2019, The Foundation worked together with the Centre for Effective Philanthropy to understand how grantees perceive The Winnipeg Foundation and its work. The results were published in a report called Perspectives.

The Foundation’s cumulative granting surpassed $500 million in 2019. The distribution which took The Foundation over this milestone was a $21,000 grant to The WRENCH – which stands for Winnipeg Repair Education and Cycling Hub. It took The Foundation 80 years to reach $100 million in cumulative grants back to the community, a benchmark that was reached in 2001. From there, as The Foundation’s assets continued to grow, so too did community distributions – a true testament to the power of endowments.

Celebrating $500 million in cumulative grants to the community in 2019. Pictured left to right: Rick Frost, Winnipeg Foundation CEO; Doneta Brotchie, Winnipeg Foundation Board Chair; Stephanie Abraham, The WRENCH volunteer;
Pat Krawec, The WRENCH Managing Director; Matthew Raffey, The WRENCH Board Chair.

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