The Community Foundation of Whistler (CFOW) has announced 29 grants totalling more than $171,000 for registered non-profit organizations, with further distributions and scholarships pushing the amount to more than $200,000.
"It's kind of a milestone," said the CFOW's executive director Carol Coffey. "That's the first time we've given out that much."
Jenn Scharf, executive director of Whistler Forest School, is the recipient of a Kathy Barnett Leadership Grant for $2,000, which was sponsored by AWARE and allows her to undertake a certificate program in non-profit management at Simon Fraser University.
"I'm excited and extremely grateful," said Scharf. "I look forward to applying the skills from what I learn in the program toward the community and to the Forest School in the long run."
Scharf said the program's six courses can be completed online, which is convenient for her.
Other recipients include a cross-section of locals and organizations, from the $25,475 for the Get Bear Smart Society's 4 The Love of Bears, to Whistler Museum's Discover Nature program, which received $8,000 to continue its pop-up interpretive centre at Lost Lake.
"They put a tent in the park and people using the park can ask questions about wildlife and local ecosystems," said Coffey. "It was so successful, they're going to do it again. It enhances visitors' experiences, gives everyone the opportunity to learn about local ecology," said Coffey.
The Foundation has awarded more than $1.7 million to community groups over its 16-year history. Donors have invested $4 million, which has since grown to $5.5 million in assets for the community.
"It's really cool because often non-profit organizations don't have large budgets, and a lot of money they can use for training goes to staff, so this is a nice way to support volunteers and staff," said Coffey.
Coffey, who's been involved with the Foundation for more than four years, said they're not as well known in the community.
"A lot of people get us mixed up with the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation. They do a gala every year," said Coffey. "We're not as glamorous," she said with a laugh.
The recipients have been notified of their awards, and Coffey said the CFOW has a wine and cheese event in the fall. "We give recipients the opportunity to share their stories with our guests about the work they've been doing and how the grant helped them. It's a little more meaningful after they've gone through the program."
For a full list of recipients, go to whistlerfoundation.com.