As Victoria-raised parents of two young children, Carly and Matt Milloy were keen to participate in the Victoria Foundation’s Gadsden Initiative in spring 2019 – it was a meaningful way to learn about organizations making a difference in their community, and to support that work for the long term.
The first round of the initiative, in 2020, brought together 30 people from the Millennial and Gen X generations with a mix of professional backgrounds and experiences, each committing to establish a new endowment fund with a minimum contribution of $5,000. The program engages a new generation of citizens who want to make a lasting difference through engagement, vision and philanthropy.
For the Milloys, it offered the chance to move beyond those familiar charities already close to their hearts, to discover others also doing meaningful work – they toured organizations, met the staff and learned what happens behind the scenes.
“This experience gave us the opportunity to set up a permanent fund that will continue to give back to the community long into the future,” Carly says. “We were able to involve our kids in the Gadsden experience and we are thrilled that this fund will be there for them to grant from as well.”
Inspired by Burges Gadsden, whose vision of a community where people support each other led to the creation of the 1936 Victoria Foundation, the initiative focused on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Make a difference: Join the next Gadsden Initiative today
The Victoria Foundation is accepting applications for the next cohort of the Gadsden Initiative, scheduled to run for one year, starting in Fall 2021.
Participants will build relationships within the community through a series of learning sessions, community activities and networking opportunities based on the UN’s Global Goals. The four core sessions will cover key learning objectives and provide opportunities to engage in dialogue with guest speakers, do hands-on site activities, and learn from and network with peers.
Holding an endowment fund was new for Waheeda Esmail – and setting one up wouldn’t have happened without the Gadsden Initiative – but when it came time to make her first grant, she knew exactly where she wanted to send the funds.
“I chose to donate to the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness based on the important work this organization is doing in our community,” Waheeda says. “As part of the Gadsden Initiative, we had the opportunity to hear Fran Hunt-Jonnouchi speak about her work building this organization from what was essentially an outreach program. I found the story incredibly inspiring, and I know that’s where I will be sending grants for years to come.”
For Waheeda, another tangible reward was developing relationships with other participants, who introduced her to organizations and initiatives like the Inclusion Project, where she’s now a board member engaging in racial equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives.
“There were certainly a number of other kindred spirits in our cohort that I would be glad to see again.”
Those interested in joining the next Gadsden Initiative cohort are asked to contact Kate Donahue at 250-381-5532 or firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. To learn more, visit victoriafoundation.bc.ca/gadsden-initiative.