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

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.


This month, the Red Deer & District Community Foundation was approached by several local Indigenous agencies who shared a collective concern about imminent issues of food insecurity for the community members they serve. The RDDCF Board of Directors was able to respond with $10,000 in emergency funding to support over 200 households within Red Deer to supplement the distribution of annual Christmas Bannock Bags.

The Christmas Bannock Bags provide dried goods to make bannock, as well as other essentials, to over 200 individuals and families. The funding from RDDCF was used to purchase gift cards to be included in the Christmas Bannock Bags, to be used by recipients to purchase a protein, or any other necessities from Central Alberta Co-op, who also contributed by donating additional gift cards.

“This is such a great demonstration of community effort,” said Erin Peden, Executive Director of RDDCF. “Because of our relationship with these agencies, and our previous discussions regarding financial support, we were able to meet this request for emergency funding, knowing the value of the Christmas Bannock Bags.”

“We have incredible agencies here in Red Deer, and they are working tirelessly to provide support and programming for Indigenous families and individuals in our community,” said Peden. “We applaud their efforts to help the Indigenous community during what is a challenging time for so many. The Christmas Bannock Bags are such an important community initiative, and one that our Board of Directors immediately understood as vital.”

The Christmas Bannock Bags will be distributed to over 200 families and individuals in Red Deer in 2022.

The Red Deer & District Community Foundation (RDDCF) has distributed $55,300 to eleven local agencies for the Fall Cycle of the Community Grants program.

“We are always impressed with the caliber of applications that we see each year,” Erin Peden, Executive Director of RDDCF said. “As a 360 degree funder, we are able to grant across such a range of areas. This year we are granting to charities that impact youth all the way to seniors, in areas such as food insecurity, education, mental health, physical health, social connection, accessibility, and the environment.”

“Our adjudication committee awards these grants based on our mission to strengthen the quality of life in Central Alberta,” Peden said. “There are so many incredible agencies doing worthwhile work to make sure our communities are places where everyone belongs. We are thrilled to help facilitate this work.”

Recipients of the fall grants are as follows:

  • Best Buddies Canada Friendship Program – $4,000
  • Book Clubs for Inmates Building Bridges Through Books – $2,900
  • Bridges Community Living Health To You Fitness Project – $5,900
  • Ellis Bird Farm Studying Parental Behaviour of Cavity Nesting Birds – $6,000
  • Leftovers Canada Rescue Food YQF 2023 – $10,000
  • MADD Red Deer & District 2022/2023 School Program – $2,550
  • Red Deer Action Group Subsidy Ride Program – $2,000
  • Schizophrenia Society of Alberta Ramp Resurfacing – $3,500
  • Stettler Hospice Society Capacity Building – $10,000
  • Sylvan Lake Seniors Association Program Subsidies for Seniors – $5,000
  • Young Alberta Book Society Seeds of Stories – $3,450

“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 Spring cycle of the Community Grants program will open early in January.

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

This week, in honour of Remembrance Day, we are highlighting the Community Foundation’s Portraits of Honour Bursary.

This bursary was created nearly 10 years ago to demonstrate community support for reservist members of military units who are undergoing training courses offered by the Canadian Armed Forces. The bursary provides financial support to help offset some of the personal and family costs arising from the considerable time commitment required by these training courses. It reflects a keen understanding that this type of training contributes directly to the success of the central Alberta community as it enables valuable leadership and technical training opportunities for our serving military citizens.

On a practical level, this bursary acknowledges that reservists serve in a part-time capacity and have significant other full-time employment and family responsibilities which are often impacted by this commitment to technical training and leadership development.

“I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been approved for the Portraits of Honour bursary for two career-critical training courses with the Canadian Armed Forces,” said Jason Taylor, recent Portraits of Honour Bursary recipient. “Having been able to complete these courses with the financial burden significantly reduced was critical in my success while on course, and my ability to transition back into civilian life with ease.”

“These military courses, not only critical for my career progression as an Artillery Officer, have changed my life for the better, and would not have been possible without the Portraits of Honour Bursary” said Taylor.
The Portraits of Honour Bursary was founded as a legacy of the Portraits of Honour Fund, established through the financial support of central Albertans to the 2012 Portraits of Honour Tour, which honoured Canadians who lost their lives in active military service during the Afghan war.

As part of our commitment to ensure that charities in central Alberta receive consistent funding, the Red Deer & District Community Foundation had a busy summer of coordinating disbursement cheques to charities with designated funds.

The total amount of funds returned to community agencies through designated disbursements in 2022 is just over $190,000.00, distributed to 47 organizations. This money is generated by the interest on designated funds, meaning that charities receive disbursement cheques each year, guaranteeing sustainable, long-term funding.

Charities with designated funds are found across all areas including arts and culture, health and wellness, human services, recreation, sports, education, and environmental sectors. Funds are started by agencies themselves, or by individuals looking to make an impact in a certain area, or for a specific charity. The primary benefit of these funds is that disbursements happen annually, providing a steady source of funding for the receiving agency.

“The Community Foundation is focused on helping charities move more towards financial sustainability,” said Erin Peden, Executive Director of the Red Deer & District Community Foundation. “We are so proud of the fact that these endowments are making huge impact year after year by putting tens of thousands of dollars back into this community. It’s a thrill to administer these cheques each year, knowing that these disbursements are helping the Community Foundation to fulfil our mission of strengthening the quality of life in Red Deer and surrounding areas.”

Examples of disbursement recipients include the Legacy Land Trust Endowment, which distributed over $10,000 for conservation efforts, as well as the Care for Kids fund, which distributed over $15,000 to cover children, youth, and family fees in order to increase accessibility for city programs and facilities.

Anyone interested in learning more about designated funds is encouraged to contact Erin Peden at the Red Deer & District Community Foundation.

For over 20 years, the Sylvan Lake Endowment Fund has been distributing grants to local agencies in Sylvan Lake and surrounding area. Established in 2001, this fund with the Red Deer & District Community Foundation aims to strengthen the quality of life of Sylvan Lake residents.


This year, the Sylvan Lake Endowment Fund has granted over $7,000 to local agencies supporting programs in the arts, mental health, and health care areas. Grantees are chosen by an adjudication committee made up of Sylvan Lake residents who deeply understand and care for their community.


“The Sylvan Lake Endowment Fund is such a wonderful demonstration of a community caring for the long term needs of its citizens,” said Erin Peden, Executive Director of the Red Deer & District Community Foundation. “Since starting this fund over 20 years ago, grants have been given to a wide range of agencies doing important work in the Sylvan Lake area. And because of this investment made decades ago, this fund will continue to support the community for years to come,””


“When grants open in the spring, we encourage Sylvan Lake agencies to submit applications for programs and projects that will enhance the quality of life here in Central Alberta,” said Peden. “This fund also accepts donations, and might be of particular interest to donors looking to make long term impact in their community.”


Recipients of 2022 grants include Shalom Counselling Centre of Alberta which received $3,000 to support their belief that individuals should not be limited in their ability to access mental, emotional, and relationship support because of their financial status. The Olds & District Hospice Society received $2,000 for volunteer recruitment and volunteer training to support chronically Ill individuals. The Red Deer Royals (Red Deer Community Band Society) also received $2,000, to replace musical instruments.


The Sylvan Lake Community Grant is open to all charities and qualified donees based in Sylvan Lake or surrounding area, and granting areas are unrestricted, meaning that grants can be given for any area of focus.


For more information on this grant, contact Danielle Stewart at the Community Foundation

With the addition of another scholarship in 2022, the Red Deer & District Community Foundation gave away a record number of scholarships to local students this year. Over $100,000 was awarded to students from Red Deer, Penhold, and surrounding areas.

“These scholarships make such an impact in the lives of students who are facing huge financial barriers as expenses associated with post-secondary education continue to grow,” said Erin Peden, Executive Director of the Red Deer & District Community Foundation. “We are so proud to help facilitate financial awards that ease the burden of tuition costs and open the door of opportunity for students continuing on their educational journey.”

Scholarships administered by the Community Foundation include the newly formed William Arthur Bower Memorial Scholarship, made possible by a $1M donation by William Bower’s nieces, Ruth and Dorothy Bower. This scholarship awarded $5,000 to five students from Red Deer High Schools in 2022, as did the Ford Family Scholarship which awarded $5,000 to five students from Penhold Crossing School.

Other scholarships with the Community Foundation include the Rex Turple Memorial Scholarship, the Murray Family Scholarship, the Trey Purdie Memorial Scholarship, the Dr. Don Church Scholarship, the A. Bernard & Mary B. Dixon Scholarship, and the Rotary Career Opportunity Awards.