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Whistler Community Foundation gives $219K to local charity programs

The WCF celebrates 25 years of charity donations in 2024, with more than $4.45M donated over the years
PORCA's Girls on Wheels program serves to get teenage girls out riding and learning more skills.

The Whistler Community Foundation (WCF) is giving out $219,000 in grants this year as part of its ongoing mandate to support community needs.

“Social services in Whistler and Pemberton areas have seen a heightened need post-pandemic, and our team, while keen on addressing a climate crisis, also sees a developing social crisis that needs funding,” reads a WCF press release for its 2024 grants.

Claire Mozes, the WCF's chief executive officer, said there is increasing focus on social supports.

“It’s a hard job for our committee when assessing grant applications, because it’s easy to see the value in all types of programming from arts and culture to social services,” she said.

“WCF, since its 2023 Vital Signs report, has started to give more attention to the intersections of community needs. 

“For example, Pemberton Off Road Cycling Association (PORCA) has been a critical asset for Pemberton-area residents in terms of social, mental and physical well-being. And this year, they received a grant for a program that provides mentorship for girls in the outdoors—through mountain biking. That’s the kind of programming that gets young people excited.”

Also in the Caring Community grant stream, the Sea to Sky Hospice Society received $3,484 for a bereavement support program and the Whistler Community Services Society received $6,516 for counselling assistance, while PearlSpace received $3,600 for its Mama Baby Connections program. More than $23,000 in additional funds goes to another 10 programs.

PORCA's Girls on Wheels program will receive $1,500 from the WCF’s Caring Community grants stream for 2024.

Executive director of PORCA, Bree Thorlakson, said a deep-dive on youth membership data revealed the need for a program.

“[PORCA] noticed that it was heavily weighted towards male participation in comparison to our adult membership, which is 50-per-cent female,” she said.

“Of course, women’s participation has grown significantly by way of our legacy programs designed to support women in sport, like Bike Club and the Spud Crusher. We were serving the adult community but had a gap to fill with youth. When a teen joined our women’s trail maintenance night, she further highlighted a desire for girls-specific programming. We took that as a sign, and Girls on Wheels was born.”

Girls on Wheels is described by PORCA as a teen version of the association’s women’s bike club, and is a free weekly social ride for teens aged 13 to 18. It started as a means to encourage more girls to get out riding and upskill in a safe and inclusive space.

As of 2024, the WCF has operated for a quarter century, and over the years has granted more than $4.45 million to charities serving the Whistler and Pemberton areas.

The range of grants going out in 2024 go from small-scale, like $500 to the Whistler Independent Supportive Housing Society for grant-writing education, to large-scale, like a $50,000 grant to the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE), to go towards organizational development.

The lion’s share of grants in 2024 will go to environmental causes. There is also $6,100 for the Whistler Naturalists' Fungus Among Us mushroom festival, as well as $5,000 for its glacier monitoring program, and $2,200 for bird studies. 

The Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council (SSISC) likewise receives large grants from the WCF, like $12,500 for inventory, control and monitoring programs for invasive flora, and $23,000 for programs to monitor and map invasive fauna.

Learn more about the Whistler Community Foundation and how to support it at Funds raised by the WCF are through community and industry support.