Funding the Future with the Chatham Kent Community Foundation

Pattern Canada Stories

Written By: Pattern Stories

The positive impact of the Chatham Kent Community Foundation has been felt in the community for more than 30 years, and the number of organizations they are supporting continues to grow.

The Facility Manager, Kevin Aikenhead, standing next to the CKCF and SKW Community Fund logos in 2018.

A Clear Vision

John D. Bradley established the CKCF in 1990 with a clear vision: to establish a broad-based, volunteer-driven philanthropic organization that would create, preserve, and grow perpetual funds to enrich the lives of the Chatham-Kent community, now and in the future.

In 1993, the first grants to community agencies were given to three local hospitals, as well as to CK Transition House, Chatham Public Library, Tilbury Information Centre, Ridgetown Arena, and the Blenheim Leisure Centre. In 2021, the CKCF awarded more than 60 grants across the municipality.

The Chatham-Kent Library.

Chris Pegg, who has been the Executive Director since 2019, says he is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations to help the Foundation achieve these goals.

“Working with the Foundation and the philanthropic community in Chatham-Kent has been the most challenging and energizing experience of my professional life. Having a direct hand in supporting education, health, arts and culture, recreation, social services, heritage, and the environment in our community is very rewarding, and I am proud of the efforts of the CKCF and South Kent Wind to support Chatham-Kent,” he explains.

CKCF event in 2016.

South Kent Wind Community Fund

South Kent Wind joined the Foundation in 2013 when the South Kent Wind Community Fund was established as a donor-advised fund.

“Since then, ongoing annual donations to the Fund have totalled over $6 million. The SKW Community Fund Advisory Committee meets twice a year to give grant recommendations to the Board of Directors of the CKCF. We work well together, with a shared vision of granting funds to all areas of the community, and to a variety of charitable organizations in Chatham-Kent,” Chris explains.

CKCF event in 2016.

Big and Small

Last fall, organizations like the Thamesville Sertoma Club, Dresden Sidestreets Youth Centre, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Chatham-Kent received funding from the CKCF for renovations, building additions, and extending programming into rural communities.

While the CKCF funds groups both big and small, South Kent Wind Facility Manager Kevin Aikenhead says it’s the small one-time requests that hold a special place in his heart.

“We really like niche community projects that may not have received funding elsewhere. Some young people approached us a few years ago to organize a Scooter Festival in Chatham, and we thought it was a really great initiative to support that would bring something new to the area and get youth together,” Kevin explains.

He says the CKCF can be really helpful to small community groups.

“The Community Foundation is great for organizations like hospitals seeking funds,, but it’s also a great resource for smaller groups that have an idea to do an event or project but may only need a few thousand dollars. There aren’t many places groups can apply to receive small one-time grants,” he says.

“The Community Foundation is great for organizations like hospitals that are seeking funding, but it’s also a great resource for smaller groups that have an idea to do an event or project but may only need a few thousand dollars. There aren’t many places groups can apply to receive small, one-time grants,” he says.

CKCF event in 2016.

A Growing Fund

Kevin says he’s been involved with the SKW Community Fund for the past 6 years and has seen it continue to grow.

“The number of applications has definitely been growing over the years that I’ve been involved. Lots of people have been hearing about the Community Foundation on social media, and I share the application with any groups or organizations that are looking for funding,” he says. 

One of the goals of the CKCF is to grow perpetual funds to support the community years and years into the future, and it does this by building endowments so that the income earned on the permanent funds can be used to give grants, while the original investment is retained and grows over time.

Funding the Future

It’s because of this that both Chris and Kevin believe that the CKCF will continue to have lasting positive impacts on the Chatham-Kent community.

“I have really high hopes for the impact the Foundation will have on Chatham-Kent in the future. The methodology that the CKCF has in order to help the community as a whole revolves around what we can support and how big of an impact that support will make. I think many generations will benefit from this,” Kevin says.

Visit the Chatham-Kent Community Foundation on Facebook or on their website to learn more about the organizations they’ve supported.

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