Impact-Focused Catalysts Working Together


On May 29th, KWCF held its annual Townhall at the Tannery Event Centre. Here are just a few highlights for those who missed it:

Board Chair, Deborah Currie opened with a powerful video by Max FineDay, Executive Director of Canadian Roots Exchange. “Today our Townhall theme is about catalysts working together, enacting positive change for a greater impact, a theme that is clearly prevalent in Max’s work,” said Deborah. Rather than reading a traditional land acknowledgement, Deborah read a quote from Max, which explained that while the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples has a long way to go, he has hopes the relationship can be mended, and he believes in a Canada where youth stand in solidarity to promote respect, understanding and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

KWCF President & CEO Elizabeth Heald then began her remarks by thanking Deborah for her service as Board Chair, and sharing KWCF’s updated values that align with the brand launched in 2018.

* impact focused   * catalysts   * collaborative   * inclusive    * trustworthy

In 2018, KWCF took many steps to make it easier for people to do more good. A few  examples were highlighted:

The minimum amount required to open a fund was lowered from $25,000 to $5,000 to make the establishment of a fund an opportunity for more community members.

A new type of fund has been created called a “Donor Advised Fund – Invested for Impact”. Donors have the option of setting up a fund that is invested along with KWCF’s impact investment pool, and the donor will have the option of making all granting decisions for their fund based on returns of their impact investments.

KWCF started rolling out the Company Endowment Program, which will create lasting legacies for companies, maximize the impact of their giving, and assist them with attracting and retaining employees.  

 In May, KWCF announced their participation in the RBC Future Launch Community Challenge, that will give local youth a chance to partner with charitable organizations, and lead projects that address urgent, local priorities. KWCF has matched a $15,000 grant from the RBC Foundation, making $30,000 available for grants.

As Elizabeth noted, KWCF is adapting to a rapidly changing landscape, including making a commitment to Impact Investing. In 2018, KWCF deployed impact investment dollars towards Kinbridge Association, Windmill Microlending, The Working Centre and House of Friendship. KWCF also partnered with the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing to assist House of Friendship in the development of their community bond, which Board Member and Social Finance Committee Chair, Tim Jackson outlined in his speech. As Tim explained, House of Friendship needed to raise $1 million for the expansion of their Addiction Treatment Centre in Cambridge and decided to do through the offering of an impact investment. “House of Friendship actually had to stop accepting investors because they were generating interest for more money than the project needed,” said Tim. This is a very encouraging sign for the future of Impact Investing in the region. “People are seeing that it’s possible to generate a financial return and a social return at the same time.”

Elizabeth welcomed keynote speaker, Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (SASC) Executive Director Sara Casselman, who addressed issues affecting women in Waterloo Region and the important work that SASC is doing. According to the 2019 Best and Worst Places to be a Woman in Canada report, created by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alaternatives, Waterloo Region placed last in the country in terms of women’s feelings of personal security. For Sara, it is crucial to act as a catalyst to bring these facts to light and ignite change. “Too often we become complacent and think of everything as normal until someone challenges us,” she said.

Sara explained to the audience that gender equality is at the heart of the issues affecting women and pointed to large movements that have had an impact. “#MeToo was a watershed moment in the advancement of gender equality,” said Sara, noting that while the initial movement was vital, there is still a great deal of work to be done. Gender equality falls under the Social Inclusion area of focus for Wellbeing Waterloo Region and is a component of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #5. Many organizations, including KWCF, use these goals and areas of focus to guide their work.    

Elizabeth also spoke about what KWCF is doing to address Wellbeing Waterloo Region’s three areas of focus: Affordable Housing, Healthy Children and Youth and Social Inclusion.

On the Affordable Housing front, KWCF partnered with the Homelessness and Housing Umbrella Group (HHUG) for the ALL IN 2020 campaign, which aims to end chronic homelessness in Waterloo Region by the year 2020, five years ahead of the provincial target. KWCF has matched the first $25,000 in donations and manages the flow-through fund to support this crucial initiative.

In April, KWCF partnered with UNICEF Canada for a pilot project called the Waterloo Region One Youth Fund. A $5,000 donation from Overlap Associates was matched by KWCF to start the fund, and if successful, will be rolled out nationally. The fund will work to address some of the biggest challenges to children like poverty, food insecurity, bullying, mental health and violence.

Coming in September, a new initiative by KWCF in partnership with the Cambridge & North Dumfries Community Foundation will support Social Inclusion in the region. “On the Table Waterloo Region” will be an opportunity for people, organizations and communities to come together, share some food and have conversations about what matters most to them. It will take place from September 27 to 29. Highlights and topics discussed will be collected, and a report will be provided back to the community for everyone to see what is on people’s minds. To learn more, including how to host a conversation visit

KWCFWhat's New