Recent news and events concerning the Red Deer & District Community Foundation.

The Red Deer & District Community Foundation is pleased to announce three new financial awards to support Central Alberta students.

“With the understanding that education can be a powerful tool, we are thrilled to work with community-minded individuals and groups who see the value of investing in youth and impacting future generations,” said Erin Peden, RDDCF Executive Director. “We know that significant financial barriers exist for students and their families, so these financial awards help to remove these barriers and unlock possibility.”

The new scholarships include:

  • The Shea Family Education Award, created by the Shea Family and inspired by their deep roots in Sylvan Lake, will support graduating students from École H. J. Cody High School in Sylvan Lake.
  • The Burman University Music Bursary was created by Cheryl Cooney and Dick Huddleston, longtime friends of the Community Foundation, who were inspired by both the skills of the students at Burman University and the quality of the Burman University Music Program. This bursary will provide two entrance scholarships to the Burman University Music Program each year.
  • The Red Deer Golf & Country Club Centennial Scholarship was created to commemorate the RDGCC Centenary, as part of the Club’s celebration of this milestone with its members and the community. The scholarship is open to students who have been employed in the golf industry or have actively participated in the game of golf.

Greg Shea, who established the Shea Family Education Award, sees tremendous value in increasing accessibility to education while supporting local youth to pursue their educational goals. “We focus our philanthropy towards young people, whether it be education, sports or other activities, with the goal of empowering future generations by disrupting cycles of disadvantage,” said Shea.

With the addition of these three awards, the Community Foundation now offers 13 different scholarships to support students in a wide variety of fields. While application criteria, eligibility, and requirements vary for different scholarships, all financial awards can be applied for through the Community Foundation’s online application portal.

For more information or to apply online, click here.

To enter the hospice suite at Points West Living in Stettler is to experience a sense of comfort. The incredible staff, Board, and volunteers of the Stettler Hospice are community-minded individuals who are not afraid to have uncomfortable conversations if it means getting people closer to comfort when they need it most – when they are faced with needing end-of-life care. The love and nurturing providing by the Stettler Hospice is an invaluable resource for families living in and around Stettler.

With a commitment to accessibility and compassionate end-of-life care, the Stettler Hospice Society understands that access to hospice care is crucial. But accessing this care can be challenging for those living in rural communities, where travel to bigger centres for medical care can be a burden to families already struggling with the logistics and emotions of hospice care. This deep understanding of the vital importance of local hospice care allows the Stettler Hospice Society to fulfil their vision “to provide loving, compassionate care for the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of patients and their families during End Of Life by relieving suffering, providing comfort, and helping to improve quality of living and dying.”

A key benefit of hospice care in rural communities is the ability to continue a sense of support while allowing patients to stay in the communities where they feel most connected. In many rural areas, neighbors and community members often come together to provide care for those in need. Hospice programs build upon this existing support system by offering specialized medical expertise, emotional support, and resources to patients and their families.

To this end, the Stettler Hospice Society also facilitates an innovative program called Hospice at Home. Hospice at Home allows patients to stay in their homes while still accessing hospice care in the form of regular volunteer visits. This program bridges the gap by bringing compassionate care directly to patients’ homes.

The Red Deer & District Community Foundation recognized the incredible impact of the Stettler Hospice Society with a grant of $10,000, used by the agency to purchase essential tools that help to provide comfort and solace to patients and their families.

The amazing care provided by the Stettler Hospice Society is a pillar of strong community support. One family shared that “there was nothing we could have asked for or thought of that [the Stettler Hospice] didn’t provide. Thank you for granting mom’s wish to leave with dignity and to be able to meet with all her family.  We are eternally grateful to the Stettler Hospice.”

With funding from a $30,000 grant from the Red Deer and District Community Foundation (RDDCF), a new support group for mothers living with substance use disorder will begin this January, run by Family Services of Central Alberta (FSCA). This initiative seeks to provide mothers with the support they need to overcome addiction while also ensuring that childcare needs are met during programming.

Mothers for Recovery provides an opportunity for mothers who are seeking or maintaining recovery from substance use to receive non-judgmental support in a safe and confidential space. The program involves weekly meetings co-facilitated by a social worker and a mother in recovery herself, modeled after the idea that the best teachers for mothers with addiction are individuals who have recovered from addiction themselves. The program encourages mothers to share their experiences, strengths, and hopes in recovery while amongst peers with similar past and present experiences.

“Our adjudication committee recognized that mothers with substance use disorder face unique challenges, including stigma and shame,” said Erin Peden, RDDCF Executive Director. “The Mothers for Recovery program makes sense as an evidence-based early intervention strategy to support not only mothers, but also their children. Our hope is that this grant can facilitate the creation of a program that provides connection and resources for mothers who most need specialized peer support.”

To reduce barriers to attendance, young children can participate in the Mothers for Recovery Child Development program which is designed to provide a nurturing environment for children while their mothers attend the support group sessions. Children will be cared for in an adjoining space by qualified childcare providers and will engage in play-based developmental programming. As children with a parent who has substance use disorders (SUDs) are more likely to have lower socioeconomic status and increased difficulties in academic and social settings and family functioning, breaking this cycle is possible with early intervention programs such as Mothers for Recovery.

“This concept grew from the lack of addiction services available for women that they could bring their children to and that also dealt with the sensitive parenting issues that accompany substance use disorder,” said Judy Scott, FSCA Executive Director. “We want to make it as easy as possible for mothers to attend our meetings and get the support they need, without the barrier of finding reliable childcare.”

The program will be held at the FSCA Parkland Mall site and is free to all individuals who identify as a mother and who are seeking or maintaining recovery from substance use, with no agency referrals required. For more information on attending, call 403.309.8222.

The Red Deer & District Community Foundation (RDDCF) is pleased to announce that $70,000 will be distributed to five agencies through the Fall 2023 Community Grants program.

“In awarding grants, the adjudication committee chose to focus on agencies where funding would have the greatest impact on strengthening the quality of life in Central Alberta, which is our organization’s mission,” Erin Peden, Executive Director of RDDCF said.

The grants distributed this cycle will support organizations that work with a wide range of demographics, from children and youth all the way to individuals who are accessing end-of-life care.

“The strength of our Community Grants program is the ability to grant to any qualified donee, meaning we can choose to respond to the most pressing needs of agencies in Central Alberta,” said Peden.

“We are proud that this granting cycle will see the Community Foundation support new, emerging programs, as well as agencies that have a long record of outstanding support for families and individuals in our community,” Peden said.

Recipients of the fall grants are as follows:

  • Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre Toys for Play Therapy – $5,000.00
    • The CASASC Play Therapy Room focuses on supporting children who have experienced or are affected by sexual violence. Play therapy is generally used with children between the ages of 31/2 and 12, and provides a way for participants to express their experiences and feelings through a natural, self-guided, self-healing process. CASASC is the only agency in Central Alberta to provide child therapy at no cost.
  • Family Services of Central Alberta Mothers for Recovery Support Group – $30,000.00
    • Mothers for Recovery is a weekly support group that provides an opportunity for mothers who are seeking or maintaining recovery from substance use to receive non-judgmental support in a safe and confidential space. The program involves weekly meetings co-facilitated by a professional woman and mother in recovery herself. The co-facilitation supports the Mothers for Recovery belief that the best teachers for mothers with addiction are individuals who have recovered from addiction themselves.
  • Leftovers Foundation Rescue Food YQF – $10,000.00
    • Rescue Food Red Deer 2024 will build on the launch and pilot of the program in 2023, with a focus on increased food donor and volunteer outreach and engagement. Rescue Food works on a relational level to build local connections between small food retailers and neighbouring service agencies. The program’s volunteer redirection model minimizes the effort required by service agencies to access redirected food.
  • Olds & District Hospice Volunteer Driving & Support Program – $5,000.00
    • The Volunteer Driving & Support Program facilitates hospice volunteers driving patients
      for medical appointments and other needs, providing both logistical and emotional support.
  • YMCA of Northern Alberta – Northside Community Centre Keeping the Youth Centre Open for YOUth! – $20,000.00
    • The Youth Centre is open during the critical afterschool hours of 3-5:30pm, Monday-Friday, for ages 8-18. It is a place where youth can drop-in and relax, play games, read and connect with friends. Universal access for the YMCA Northside Youth Centre removes financial barriers to accessing social, emotional and physical activity opportunities for youth after school. Free youth centre access increases peer and mentor relationship development supporting positive youth development.

“We, as a Community Foundation, are focused on sustainability and impact,” Peden said. “Providing funding in the form of grants is just one way that we support organizations. We also facilitate collaboration, and we work with agencies to implement alternative funding options.”

In 2023, RDDCF granted over $125,00 to local charities through the Community Grants program.

In 2023, the Community Foundation facilitated scholarships to more than 20 students living in Central Alberta, distributing over $90,000 in total to support students expanding their education into a variety of fields and industries.

The Ford Family Scholarship, targeting students attending Penhold Crossing Secondary School, distributed a record $30,000 to six students. The William Arthur Bower Memorial Scholarship, in its second year, distributed $25,000 to five students from Red Deer high schools.

With the addition of a new online application portal this year, the Community Foundation has made applying for scholarships even easier for students.

“One of our goals has been to increase accessibility and ease for students,” said Krista Nymark VandenBrink, RDDCF Board Chair. “We recognize the importance of scholarships as the rising cost of post-secondary education continues be a barrier for students. The online portal streamlines applications for students looking for financial support.”

With the addition of more scholarships this year, the Community Foundation now offers 12 different scholarships, to support students in a wide variety of fields. While application criteria, eligibility, and requirements vary for different scholarships, the online application portal provides one central location for students looking to apply to one or more scholarships through the Community Foundation.

A full list of scholarships available through the RDDCF can be found online at:

2022 was an exciting year for the Red Deer & District Community Foundation. Check out our 2022 Retrospect: Year in Review to learn about the ways in which we were able to make impact in Central Alberta in 2022 – through grants, scholarships, collaborations, new funds, and more.

Click here, or on the image below, to learn more.




The Red Deer & District Community Foundation (RDDCF) has distributed $55,000 to six local agencies for the Spring Cycle of the Community Grants program.

“We have some new recipients for this granting cycle, and some past recipients that we are happy to be supporting again,” Erin Peden, Executive Director of RDDCF said. “Since our granting is open to any qualified donee, we are able to grant to an array of areas. We are committed to supporting a variety of demographics and causes.”

“Despite fluctuating markets, we have maintained our ability to carry out our mission to strengthen the quality of life in Central Alberta,” Peden said. “We are pleased to be able to honour our commitment to community by contributing $55,000 to local agencies doing important work.”

Recipients of the spring grants are as follows:

  • Book Clubs for Inmates ChIRP: Connecting Families Through the Joy of Reading – $3,000.00
  • Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre 24-Hour Phone, Text, & Webchat Crisis Line – $20,000.00
  • Fairview Elementary School Library Renovation – $5,000.00
  • Olds & District Hospice Hospice & Bereavement Client Support Through Volunteers – $7,000
  • Scientists in School Increasing Access to STEM Learning for Vulnerable Children and Youth in Red Deer and District – $5,000.00
  • Team Jigger Foundation Sledge Hockey Equipment Purchases – $15,000

“As the Community Foundation, we have a number of ways to support charities to reach their financial needs ,” Peden said. “We provide grants, but we also work with agencies on other sustainable funding options.”

The Red Deer & District Community Foundation distributes Community Grants twice annually, in the spring and the fall. Applications for the Fall cycle of the Community Grants program will open mid June.

Community Grants are available to any qualified donee in Central Alberta, with no limitations as to areas of focus. In 2022, RDDCF granted over $142,00 to local charities through the Community Grants program.

The Red Deer & District Community Foundation has been focused on innovative and community-minded initiatives to help agencies secure sustainable funding solutions for the future. As part of these efforts, we are proud to announce that the Community Foundation has contributed $30,000 to Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre in the form of an endowment. Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre also contributed $30,000 to the endowment, giving Aspire an initial $60,000 endowment that will generate yearly disbursements, providing consistency and sustainability.

Aspire’s Fee Assistance Endowment was created to support Aspire’s desire to have a long-term solution to meet the ongoing needs of the children and families they serve. Aspire’s Fee Assistance Program ensures that Aspire can provide barrier-free access to their programs and services for all children and families, regardless of their financial situation.

“We have been seeing grant applications from Aspire since 2014,” said Erin Peden, RDDCF Executive Director. “And each and every time, the adjudication committee was left feeling like this is an absolutely essential program for central Alberta. So with an eye towards sustainability, we arranged a conversation with Aspire to see if we could work collaboratively to build an endowment fund.”

“We jumped on board right away with the Community Foundation,” said Aspire’s Executive Director, JoAnne Hayden. “This endowment will help us to develop consistency, allowing us to fulfill our goal of supporting families that need our services today, as well as the families who will need our services in the future.”

The Aspire Fee Assistance Endowment will begin generating investment income in 2023, and this will be used annually for families needing financial support. Aspire hopes to grow this fund through donations, with the ultimate goal of having the disbursement cover the full needs of families seeking access.

“As community members recognize that they want to make long term impact, they can contribute to this fund and then the investment income will also grow, which means more and more families will be able to access financial support,” said Peden.

With the creation of this endowment, Aspire and the Community Foundation are collaborating on a forward-thinking, sustainable funding solution.

“It was about knowing that we have a sense of security, not only for us but for our families,” said Hayden.

Donors interested in contributing to Aspire’s Fee Assistance Endowment Fund are encouraged to contact Melissa Vine at Aspire, or Erin Peden at the Red Deer & District Community Foundation.