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$500K donation 'wind in your sails' for Banff Canmore Community Foundation

 “We recognize the work that the community foundation does in building and maintaining relationships with so many organizations throughout the valley."
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Executive director of the Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation Cathy Geisler, left, announced the donation of $500,000 to the Banff Canmore Community Foundation on Thursday (Jan. 30). CHELSEA KEMP RMO PHOTO

BANFF – Foraging a partnership designed to help grassroots initiatives in the Bow Valley thrive, the Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation has donated $500,000 to the Banff Canmore Community Foundation.

The Banff Canmore Community Foundation (BCCF) plays a critical role in the Bow Valley, the organization's board chair Karen Antrobus explained, because the group can support the community through different programs by awarding grants to various initiatives.

“What we do is keep an eye on the community and respond to community needs as they come up,” Antrobus said.

“This [donation] really lets us make a much bigger impact on some of the really big problems that are out there facing the valley.”

The donation of $500,000 over five years from the Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation will transform the effects the BCCF can have in supporting the community.

“The biggest is going to be in granting, because that’s where the bulk of that grant is going to go,” Antrobus said.

“It’s an incredibly generous donation.”

The foundation is often faced with challenging decisions each year because it is unable to fund all of the grant applications it receives, Antrobus said.

“Every year, we have to turn down some really excellent ideas that the community has for how to make this area a better place to live,” Antrobus said.

“A grant of this scope will really help us respond to so many more requests that are coming out."

It was exciting to find out the organization would-be receiving the $500,000 endowment, she said, as it will transform the calibre and size of grants that will be shared with the community. Antrobus added it is the largest gift the Banff Canmore Community Foundation has received to date.

“Some things you can’t fix with a $1,000 – just being able to do something quite substantial is very exciting,” Antrobus said, adding it has been inspiring to know they will be able to have a continued and increased impact in the community.

“This is the wind in your sails,” Antrobus said. “It’s inspirational ... for what we can start dreaming about accomplishing in the valley.”

The Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation and BCCF have been working together for several years and the partnership has led to the $500,000 contrubution.

The donation speaks to the calibre of work and trust the organizations have been able to foster, executive director of the Pauw foundation Cathy Geisler said.

“We recognize the work that the community foundation does in building and maintaining relationships with so many organizations throughout the valley,” Geisler said. “We like the leadership role that they take in the community to bring organizations together to facilitate conversations about areas of need and to look for the right solutions.”

Through the community grant program, the Community Foundation can access pivotal grassroots groups in the Bow Valley community and seize on areas of opportunity.

“It’s a small valley, there’s a lot going on, there’s a lot of diverse interests – we work very closely and we are identifying similar areas of opportunity or need,” Geisler said.

“It makes sense to maintain an ongoing conversation to address how we can best address whatever the challenges are issues that arise.”

The grant program is one area of growth for the community foundation, she said, and the donation will serve to help anchor the program allowing the foundation to set its sights on bigger goals that will help build a better community.

“It’s about different organizations … coming together and continuing to have the conversations and look for a place where we can move the needles on having a vibrant community,” Geisler said.

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