History

Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) was founded by Edmontonians to reinvest in the community and its people.

Our roots in the community run deep. Although ECF was formed by the Edmonton Community Foundation Act passed in 1971, it wasn’t until 1989 that we became truly active — thanks to a combined investment of $15 million by John and Barbara Poole, George and Rae Poole, and Robert and Shirley Stollery on behalf of their families.
The founding families of ECF decided to make the initial investment based on a recommendation from Eric John Slatter, who was a highly regarded solicitor and charitable sector advocate. He traveled to a number of Canadian cities to see what made other community foundations successful. Today, the laneway leading to ECF’s offices has been named Slatter Way in his honour.

Immediately following the first public announcement of ECF, a gift of $500 was received from Bob and Margaret Cormack — who hold charitable receipt #1 as a result.

Since then, our asset base has grown to more than $500 million, and we have granted more than $170 million to support charities in Edmonton and throughout Canada.

Our offices are now located at Hilltop House, 9910-103rd Street, a heritage building listed on Edmonton’s Register of Historic Resources. Built in 1912 by John C. McDougall and his wife Sophie, Hilltop House was valued at $16,000. Local architect David Hardie designed the three-storey mansion, which was a significant addition to the upper middle class neighborhood that emerged on the southern edge of downtown.

We have had many impressive achievements over the past three decades, including becoming Canada’s fourth largest community foundation. Here are some milestones from our history:

1989: Edmonton Community Foundation opens thanks to a combined $15 million donation from John and Barbara Poole, George and Rae Poole, and Robert and Shirley Stollery.

1990-92: Lorne Leitch becomes ECF’s first executive director.

  • In 1990, ECF completed the first full distribution cycle, allocating $1,088,012 to 60 different charities.
  • The grant recipients included the Alberta Ballet, Ben Calf Robe Society, Edmonton John Howard Society, The Works Society, and Michener Park Education Society.
  • In 1991, Jean Forest is President of ECF.
  • Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) was formally constituted, and ECF becomes a member.

1992: The Winspear Foundation donates $4.5 million in assets to ECF.

  • In its first three years, ECF distributed more than $3,790,000 in grants to more than 100 charities.
  • Martin Garber-Conrad joins ECF’s board of directors.

1993: Alison B. Rice contributes $3 million to ECF.

1993: Bill Mathewson succeeds Lorne Leitch as ECF’s executive director.

1994-2005: Former Edmonton Police Chief Doug McNally becomes ECF’s executive director and significantly expands ECF’s presence and profile.

1995: ECF provides its first student award via a Winspear Bursary for classical music education. Since then, ECF’s Student Awards have expanded to include 18 programs granting close to $1 million annually.

1996: WillPower Wills Week is introduced.

1999: ECF removes the $30,000 cap limiting grant amounts payable and approves multi-year grant funding. This enables ECF to respond to pressing community needs.

1999: ECF actively builds Our Children’s Millennium Fund.

1999: ECF is a lead partner in establishing Leadership Edmonton.

2001: ECF commissions the sculpture “Return” by local artist Catherine Burgess, which is installed in TELUS Plaza south of Jasper Avenue. The three interdependent columns represent the three pillars of ECF: the donors, the Foundation, and the beneficiaries. All three combine to enhance the quality of life in our community.

2002: The Belcourt Brosseau Métis Awards (BBMA) Fund begins disbursing scholarship awards for the first time with a $12 million endowment. Since then, the BBMAs have grown to become the largest non-governmental support service for Metis education in Canada.

2005-present: Martin Garber-Conrad takes over as ECF’s CEO after earning community-wide respect for his work at E4C.

2005: Through negotiations with local developer Gene Dub, ECF was able to purchase and move into Hilltop House.

2007: ECF introduces Foundation Directed Initiatives (FDI). This allowed ECF to provide multi-year funding to organizations and projects deemed key by ECF’s Board and Committee members.

2007-2008: The Social Enterprise Fund (SEF) is established. SEF is a financing mechanism for charities and social enterprises. The late Bob Ward is hired as the first Executive Director.

2008: Edmonton & Area Land Trust is established.

2009: First issue of Legacy in Action magazine is distributed.

2011: The Young Edmonton Grants program is established. YEG offers youth in the greater Edmonton area up to $3,000 to turn their project ideas into reality.

2012: ECF has the laneway leading to its office named in memory of Eric John Slatter.

2012-2013: ECF initiates impact investing through the establishment of the Alberta Social Enterprise Venture Fund LP.

2013: ECF participates in Vital Signs for the first time.

2015: ECF completes construction of a new building, which provides additional office space while preserving the historic Hilltop House. The architecture firm Manasc Isaac designed the new building.

2016: ECF launches the The Well Endowed Podcast.

We continue to enrich lives in almost every sector of society, both locally and beyond. Learn how by reading more about our initiatives.