A New Generation of Generosity: Lisa Pruden

Step Forward Fund will support individuals and families moving out of poverty

As a staff member at Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF), Lisa Pruden has unique perspective into the Foundation’s work and everyday impact. So it came as no surprise to most of her friends and family when, after two years at ECF, Pruden established the Step Forward Fund, an endowment fund designed to support individuals and families moving out of poverty.

“I get to see a lot behind the scenes of the impact an endowment can have,” she says. “For me, the nice thing about creating an endowment is that I’m able to give at a level that I couldn’t necessarily do on my own — and I can have a larger, longer-term impact.”

Pruden understood many of the complex factors that could contribute to trapping someone in the cycle of poverty. With the Step Forward Fund, she hopes to help people break free of that cycle, for good. She chose to direct the fund to support E4C, a non-profit focused on supporting vulnerable populations. The organization’s values resonated with her, and were well-aligned with her long-term goal of helping people along the daunting and often precarious journey out of poverty.

“I wanted the fund to focus on growing away from poverty because of the stigma that is attached to being poor. There are still too many people out there who, when they see someone who is in poverty or struggling to make ends meet, think it’s because the person deserves it. I think we need a more compassionate view,” she says. “This fund will be a way of supporting people, without judgment, as they’re widening the gap between themselves and the poverty line.”

Support from Pruden’s family and friends for the fund has been remarkable.

At around two years into the fundraising journey, she is now more than halfway toward her goal for the endowment, thanks in large part to their generosity. For Pruden, it’s an experience that demonstrates the impact of strength in numbers.

“There’s been a real sense of support, having so many people come together to help me reach the goal. I don’t really have words for the gratitude I feel,” she says, almost in tears. “I guess I could say that one feels very loved, supported and lucky to be a part of such an amazing community.”