The Whistler Community Foundation (WCF) is doling out $128,000 to a range of non-profit organizations across Whistler and Pemberton this spring.
The annual grants will help fund a wide array of impactful local projects and initiatives, ranging from artist mentorships and youth creative camps to cultural trail signage and environmental education events, to name a few.
The Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE) was the biggest WCF grant recipient this year, netting a total of $58,400 that will be funnelled to seven different projects, including three spearheaded by the Whistler Naturalists Society. The Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council was also awarded $19,500 to fund its education, outreach and training in 2022, in addition to $20,000 for its inventory control and monitoring efforts this year.
One running theme throughout most of the 14 grant recipients this year? Sustainability, explained WCF’s CEO Claire Mozes.
The Community Foundation, which acts as a steward of money gifted to the community, introduced new grant application criteria in 2021 encouraging the local non-profits applying for those grants to add consideration for the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to their applications—and programs.
For example, SDG 16, “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions,” which encourages communities to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels,” according to the U.N.
“It's different than going out and doing a fundraiser"
“For us as a funder, as a granter, we really just try to stay up to date with some best practices in granting, and we really take a lot of lead from Community Foundations of Canada—which provides lots of training and webinars for us to learn from each other, as well as learn from people on the ground who are providing these programs and services—and some of what they do is research on gaps in service,” said Mozes. “And that's really what we're trying to focus on: where hasn't money been directed in the past? What vulnerable groups haven't been supported, traditionally?”
In the Sea to Sky, supporting SDG 16 could look like decolonization, noted Mozes.
In particular, the Pemberton Valley Trails Association’s work with the Lil’wat Nation to preserve cultural landmarks and Ucwalmícwts, the traditional Lilwat7ul language, through trail signage.
Another grant awarded to Whistler’s Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) will help the Centre focus on decolonizing recruitment and retention practices.
“Decolonization of our recruitment and retention processes at the SLCC is how we bring the ways of our ancestors into the modern ways of employment. With these teachings we will thrive,” said Allison Burns Joseph, manager of the SLCC’s Indigenous Youth Ambassador Program, in a release.
The grants handed out each spring come from the proceeds of previously endowed WCF funds, built up over the years since the organization was established in 1999. The model of a community foundation is unique, Mozes explained.
“It's different than going out and doing a fundraiser, taking all the money from that fundraiser and spreading it out into the community. What we do is we build funds,” she said. “We have environmental funds; we have funds for the arts; we have funds for community projects. Over the years we've had donations into those funds, and it's money each year earned on the interest that gets granted back out. So it's there forever … It's not about the short term, it's having this long-term investment in the community and always having money available every year for granting.”
While that money might not be going anywhere, it still isn’t enough to meet the current demand, added Mozes.
“We exist to support local charities and to grant, and every year we get more requests for funding than we have to give. We're building that and working on that—that's the drive behind everything that we do as well, of course. It's a fund development, so we have the money available when people need it. But we're not quite there yet,” she said.
“Often when people don't get funding, it is not that their program or service isn't a good idea, it's just that there literally isn't enough to go around.”
Next up, applications for the WCF’s Neighbourhood Small Grants Program, which provides up to $500 for projects that connect people—prior recipients’ ideas included yoga classes, community pizza nights and book exchanges—open on May 1. For more information, head to WCF's website.
Here’s a full list of 2022 Whistler Community Foundation grant recipients:
Caring Community Grants 2022
The Point Artist-Run Centre, Sunday Artist Sessions and Artist Mentorship Project, $2,950
Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society, Healing Through Arts, $3,350
Whistler Community Services Society, Counselling Assistance, $3,500
Sea to Sky Hospice Society, Grief and Bereavement Packages, $2,500
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, Decolonizing Recruitment Process, $3,500
Whistler Writing Society, Whistler Writer in Residence/Festival IBPoC Scholarship, $750
Zero Ceiling Society of Canada, Computers and Software, $2,450
Pemberton Valley Trails Association, Pemberton Trail Network Cultural Signage Project, $3,319
The Point Artist-Run Centre, Youth Creative Camps and Drop-in Support Project, $2,000 The Whistler Writing Society, Authors in Schools, $1,500
Learning Grants 2022
Whistler Arts Council, Fundraising Associate Certificate Program, $3,500
Pemberton Valley Trails Association, Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples Training, $3,307.50
Environmental Grants 2022
Whistler Naturalists (AWARE), Bird Studies, $2,000
AWARE, Core Capacity/Advocacy/Program Development Support, $18,000
Whistler Naturalists (AWARE), Fungus Among Us, $5,400
AWARE, Project NOW, $8,000
AWARE, S2S Non-Profit Climate Collaborations Micro-Conference, $1,000
Whistler Naturalists (AWARE), Whistler BioBlitz, $15,000
AWARE, Zero Waste Initiatives, $9,000
Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council, 2022 Invasive Species Education, Outreach and Training, $19,500
Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council, 2022 Invasive Species Inventory Control & Monitoring, $20,000
Stewardship Pemberton Society, Community Climate Change Action, $13,500
Stewardship Pemberton Society, Feasting for Change, $12,500
Whistler Museum & Archives Society, Discover Nature Education Program at Lost Lake Park, $5,000