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Several local groups helped by First West Foundation endowment funds

Credit union’s charitable foundation announces grants to groups in communities around B.C.
The Arts Umbrella Association is one of the groups to receive funds. (First West Foundation)

The First West Foundation, through its Envision Financial Community Endowment, is granting $667,600 this year – a total of 45 grants – to charities throughout the Fraser Valley, Lower Mainland and Kitimat regions.

This is the largest granting cycle in First West Foundation’s 26-year history, with a total of $1,078,983 being dispersed across First West Credit Union’s four local brands— Envision Financial, Valley First, Island Savings and Enderby & District Financial.

This record-setting year has even greater significance with First West Foundation shifting its grantmaking approach to align with trust-based philanthropy principles.

“Trust-based philanthropy is an approach to granting that seeks to shift power inequities between funders, charities and the communities they serve to create a healthier, more equitable sector for all,” said Susan Byrom, executive director of the First West Foundation. “By listening to the feedback of our charitable partners, we have reduced barriers in the grant application process, freeing up their valuable time and resources to help them do what they do best – help our communities thrive.”

Additionally, all funds granted this year are unrestricted, further aligning with the foundation’s trust-based philanthropy evolution. Unrestricted funding provides grantees the flexibility to assess and determine where grant dollars are most needed, and allows for innovation, emergent action, and support for operational expenses.

Since 1998, the Envision Financial Community Endowment has provided 474 grants totaling over $5.8 million in funding.

The Langley Hospice Society will receive $17,500 for its adult bereavement program while t$he YWCA Fraser Gardens complex in Langley was awarded a grant of $20,000. It provides holistic support for low-income single mothers and children who are at risk of homelessness. Each year approximately 50 women and children live there while they receive help to achieve independence.

The Fraser Region Community Justice Initiatives $20,000 grant will help the Langley organization provide its restorative action program to children and youth.

Another $10,000 grant was earmarked for Langley Meals on Wheels for the Envision Connection Cafe education table to provide education, skills building, inter-generational teaching, workshops and training.

The Phoenix Society in Langley will receive $25,000 in year two of a four-year community garden project. Programming is aimed at marginalized people, including those in recovery, those living in poverty, seniors, and the unhoused.

The Doghouse program by the Langley Animal Protection Society will receive $20,000. The program has women in the Fraser Valley Institution learn dog care.

The Langley Community Services Society was allocated $8,850 for volunteer and mentoring programming.

There were also donations to organizations that help people throughout the region, such as Emotions Health and Wellness Society, and the St. John Society which provides first aid and health education.

The First West Foundation works in the communities served by First West Credit Union and its regional divisions, Envision Financial, Valley First, Island Savings and Enderby & District Financial. The foundation, with assets over $17 million, uses income generated from its endowments. Since its inception in 1996, the foundation has donated more than $9 million in grants to local community groups and projects. The foundation grows its endowments through charitable gifts and bequests. For more information, visit


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Heather Colpitts

About the Author: Heather Colpitts

Since starting in the news industry in 1992, my passion for sharing stories has taken me around Western Canada.
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