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Vancouver Foundation Initiatives

We focus energy on priority issues identified through community dialogues, research, youth engagement, and relationships with donors, charities, and other organizations. We work collaboratively with community partners to set and achieve meaningful goals.

Community Research

Our research tells us that people today feel a lack of togetherness in community life. A lack of belonging. Through community consultations and independent research, we’ve heard a hunger for social connections, and a desire among people from different ethnicities, cultures, income and age groups, to engage each other to build a stronger sense of community. We support projects and research that help people build relationships with each other.


Our Connections and Engagement research underpins all our grassroots community building activities, including community dialogues and grassroots granting. In 2012, our first Connections and Engagement report revealed some challenging findings about the strength of our personal and neighbourhood connections. Our 2017 Connect & Engage Report digs deeper. It examines who may be experiencing stronger or weaker social connections, explores the barriers to being more connected and engaged, and looks for opportunities to move beyond the issues and catalyze action.


Vital Signs is an annual check-up conducted by community foundations to measure the vitality of communities across Canada. It gathers and publishes data on significant social and economic trends and assigns grades in areas critical to quality of life. Vancouver Foundation participates in Vital Signs to provide a far-reaching and critical perspective on the state of community in our region.

Youth Engagement

Not everyone gets an equal start in life. We focus on youth engagement to make sure that all young people have the opportunities and support they need to thrive. Our work leverages the collective knowledge, expertise, and resources of our staff and our extended network of community partners.

We support authentic conversations on difficult topics, and create the space for everyone – especially vulnerable groups – to have voice and influence over decisions that affect their lives. Making sure young people are active participants in this work is essential to our approach. 


Through Fostering Change and Fresh Voices, Vancouver Foundation has learned a great deal about the disproportionate barriers to influencing change within our social, civic, and public systems that Indigenous, immigrant, and refugee youth face, compared to many other young people. Through this work, we have developed LEVEL, our new youth engagement initiative that will build on these learnings by addressing racial inequity and investing in the leadership of Indigenous and racialized immigrant and refugee young adults, supporting their future work on issues that affect them.

Shared Skills and Knowledge

Vancouver Foundation sees the potential and benefits of unlocking our own intellectual property – the things we create and the works that we fund. By making the data sets, research articles, photographs, educational materials and resources that we fund open and shareable under easy-to-understand terms and conditions, we are removing real and perceived limits to sharing and consuming. Our goal is to inspire the organizations we work with to help spread good ideas throughout our communities and to better share the knowledge gained from it. Read more.


Vancouver Foundation's Open Licensing Policy, effective January 1, 2017 and onwards, is applicable to materials and resources produced by Vancouver Foundation, and materials and resources produced by Field of Interest Program grantees who submit new proposals and receive funding after the effective date.


Vancouver Foundation's research, including Connect and Engage, Vital Signs, Youth Engagement Research, and Annual Reports are available online and are free to use, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 which means you may use the content (unless otherwise directed) in any way you wish, as long as you credit Vancouver Foundation as the source of the content. Visit the open licensing section of our website or contact if you have any questions. You may also download and share our other publications, such as our annual Magazine, Policies and Financials, and resource materials designed for grant applicants. 


Making communities stronger and more vibrant is much easier when you’ve got great partners. We are lucky to work with some of the best minds and organizations in BC when it comes to building community.


In fall 2020, Vancouver Foundation joined a national initiative called the Communities for Gender Equality, led by Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) and supported by the Government of Canada to advance gender equality. As part of the initiative Vancouver Foundation helped to distribute the Fund for Gender Equality with provided $40,000 to support organizations in BC that work to advance gender equality through community-level initiatives.


The In Our Hearts campaign was inspired by how British Columbians have come together to protect our community in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic by giving and sharing what’s in their hearts.  We invited community to participate by sharing original "In Our Hearts" artwork and joining the conversation on social media. The campaign also encourages donations to the Community Response Fund which deploys essential relief to BC charities that provide health and social services and arts, culture, and other community benefits that have been hurt by COVID-19 and its economic consequences.


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada created the Emergency Community Response Fund (ECSF) to rapidly deploy $350 million in response funds to charities and non-profits across Canada. Vancouver Foundation partnered with Community Foundations of Canada to help disburse grants of up to $50,000 to charities supporting vulnerable populations impacted by the pandemic. 


The Investment Readiness Program (IRP) is federal funding for social purpose organizations to become investment ready and participate in Canada’s social finance market. Vancouver Foundation, in partnership with the UBC Centre for Social Innovation & Impact Investing and Vancity Community Foundation, offers IRP funding to organizations in Metro Vancouver and areas in BC not covered by other partners in the program.


Through the work and research that we do throughout BC, we know that people are longing for a deeper connection to their neighbours and community. We closed our 2017 Connect and Engage report with a call to action: for everyone to build a greater sense of welcome and belonging in their community. On our 75th anniversary we stepped up to do our part. In 2018, we hosted On the Table BC, a series of events powered by Vancouver Foundation to encourage community connection. We invited people and organizations across the province to gather friends, neighbours, coworkers, and family to sit down, share some food, and talk about what matters most. The topics people discussed were collected and shared—giving us an exciting snapshot of what’s on people’s minds throughout BC right now.


Neighbourhood Small Grants is Vancouver Foundation’s unique partnership program that helps build community and strengthen connections right where people live. We distribute funds to qualified organizations, who administer the grants to individuals. Grants usually range from $50 to $500, however occasionally grants are made for up to $1,000.


Downtown Eastside Small Arts Grants are a partnership between Vancouver Foundation and the Carnegie Community Centre, to give downtown east side artists the opportunity to advance their careers by supporting and showcasing their work. Vancouver Foundation distributes funds to the Carnegie Community Centre, who administer the grants to individuals.