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

A Letter from our Executive Director:

We are excited to announce a new change here at the Community Foundation. As you may have gathered from the survey that was distributed last year, we have been looking to make some changes. After careful consideration and feedback, I am pleased to share that the Red Deer & District Community Foundation will be changing its name to the Community Foundation of Central Alberta. 

Why the change? We understand that accurate representation is essential, especially when it comes to building trust and understanding within the areas that we serve. Our new name aligns more closely with our true reach, and better reflects who we serve, while still prioritizing our identity as a Community Foundation.

Rest assured, while our name may be changing, we remain dedicated to our mission of strengthening the quality of life in Central Alberta. In fact, this new name will allow us to continue our work with agencies and donors in Red Deer, while allowing us to enhance our connections with rural communities even further.

What can you expect from the Community Foundation of Central Alberta (CFCAB)? The Community Foundation of Central Alberta will continue to work in the region, along with Battle River Community Foundation, and Drayton Valley Community Foundation, to ensure comprehensive support for communities throughout the central zone.

Additionally, we will be rolling out a new look and logo. The CFCAB logo includes a circle to represent the circle of giving, the sustainability of endowed philanthropy, and unity between communities.

To celebrate this exciting change, as well as our upcoming 35th anniversary, we are planning a number of community initiatives, including a series of rural visits where we plan to host conversations specifically tailored to rural communities and their philanthropic potential. This tour will provide opportunities for us to engage directly with more citizens of Central Alberta, and share information about sustainability, legacy giving, and our role as a Community Foundation.

We ask for your patience as we undergo the name change process and more importantly, we ask for your support as we move into an exciting new time for our organization. You will begin to see changes in the coming weeks as we switch over our website, email addresses, and social media handles.

We are thrilled about this update, and we believe that this change will bring clarity to our role for donors, agencies, and community members throughout Central Alberta.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this name change, please don’t hesitate to reach out; I am happy to discuss further.

Thank you for being part of our community, and for your support of our work. We look forward to making long-term impact in Central Alberta under this new name and look.


Erin Peden, CFCAB Executive Director

The Community Foundation is excited to announce the launch of the Sylvan Lake Seniors Association Endowment Fund, a new fund focused on building a long-term funding structure to support the important work of the Sylvan Lake Seniors Association.

“When looking at how to create a stable financial future for the organization, the Sylvan Lake Seniors Association made the prudent decision to open an endowment fund here at the Community Foundation,” said Erin Peden, RDDCF Executive Director. “By investing in an endowment, the organization is cultivating a sustainable funding source, rather than relying solely on annual donations or government grants. And so far, their efforts to raise money for this fund have been commendable.”

The Sylvan Lake Seniors Association is committed to growing the fund to eventually develop a predictable stream of revenue. This will help to ensure the longevity of their mission to “provide for the recreation, social well-being, and artistic expression of seniors of Sylvan Lake and area and to contribute to the education and social well-being of the community.“

“It’s been great to work with such a forward-thinking group,” said Peden. “They have been committed to learning as much as they can about endowment building, and in turn, their members have risen to the occasion for a very strong start.”

So far, contributions to the fund have been made by members of the group, as well as the group’s Euchre Club, and also by two local businesses who believe in the group’s mission: Mr. Mikes Steakhouse Sylvan Lake and  Sylvan Lake IDA pharmacy.

Donations of all sizes are now being accepted to help grow the endowment fund. Contributions will make a meaningful difference in ensuring that Sylvan Lake seniors have access to the programs, services, and space they need to thrive.

To make a donation to this fund, click here.

Last spring, Book Clubs for Inmates received a Community Grant from the Community Foundation to have the Children of Inmates Reading Program (CHiRP) facilitated here in Central Alberta. This program aims to “build and enhance a healthier parent/child relationship, develop literacy and listening skills, increase vocabulary and attention spans for children and promote a love of learning in children through the consistent presence of a parent and books.”

Their volunteer coordinator shared this grateful letter from an inmate who is participating in the program:

“My name is Brett and I just wanted to say a little something about the CHiRP program. This program is amazing today is the second time I’ve used it. The first time I read my daughter Knuffle the Bunny and my wife told me that my daughter listened to it three times in a row then fell asleep with the chip card in her hand. This program is awesome, to be able to have them to have a connection and have them hear us read to them is so important. Thank you so much for starting this program and Thank you to the from our book club. Sara you do so much for us and go out of your way to help us. Thank you so much.”

The Community Foundation has also supported the Building Bridges Through Books program run by Book Clubs for Inmates. The participants in the book club recently shared some of their thoughts on the program:

To learn more about Book Clubs for Inmates, and the local impact of the CHiRP program, click here.

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.