(Ottawa, Ontario) Oct. 3, 2019 — Community Foundations of Canada and Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel are teaming up on a new microgrants initiative to assist community foundations in hosting Vital Conversations. Starting in January 2020, community foundations will be eligible to apply for up to $1,000 to help create the opportunity for community conversation. 

“Powerful ways to connect” 

For many community foundations, Vital Conversations have been a successful community event and a mainstay of their broader Vital Signs programming. They can be used to explore pressing issues, gather valuable data, co-create ideas with residents, build local relationships and learn about lived experiences of specific demographics as well as galvanize civic engagement more broadly. They can ultimately play a significant role in informing a community foundation’s strategic directions. 

For the Community Foundation of Whistler, where “Vital Conversations” (dubbed Vital Cafés) are held monthly, the events have helped to localize the Sustainable Development Goals and they have created an intimate, powerful forum for residents to build community, discuss issues that matter to them and importantly, brainstorm potential solutions.

Microgrants will help more community foundations take part

As part of a multi-year partnership between CFC and Leith Wheeler aimed at growing the Vital Signs program nationally, the new microgrants program will enable more foundations to take part. Priority will be given to smaller foundations, first-time Vital Signs participants as well as projects that target the following groups and focus areas: youth, seniors, developing relationships with Indigenous neighbours or exploring Vital Signs connections to the SDGs. In each of 2020 and 2021, $10,000 will be available to support foundations with Vital Conversations. CFC will release program and application information in January 2020. 


“We’re thrilled that Leith Wheeler’s partnership includes support for this kind of community event,” says Andrew Chunilall, CEO of Community Foundations of Canada. “These grassroots gatherings are at the heart of what we do: ensuring everyone has the opportunity to make their voice heard. Leith Wheeler’s support in helping make them happen is a huge boost to communities across Canada.”

“It’s been so exciting for our team to meet with community foundations from across Canada and learn first-hand about the amazing things they are accomplishing through Vital Signs,” says Trevor Hunt, Vice President and Portfolio Manager at Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel. “Vital Conversations are a terrific complement to the program, and we’re so pleased to be able to support that sharing through the years.” 

About Vital Signs 

Vital Signs was first launched by the Toronto Foundation in 2001. Today, it is the most extensive community-driven data program in Canada. Annual Vital Signs reports measure community vitality by showcasing a wealth of current, local data as well as citizen feedback. In 2018, more than 50 community foundations across the country participated in the program, and 33 communities produced reports. Worldwide, more than 100 communities now take part, in countries including Australia, Bermuda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Romania and the U.K. With Leith Wheeler’s support and strong community engagement across Canada and abroad, the program is expected to continue growing. In 2019, Vital Signs will measure community vitality across more than 70 indicators. 

About Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel

Since 1982, Leith Wheeler has been one of Canada’s leading independent investment managers, with a diverse client base of pension plans, foundations, endowments, professional organizations, Indigenous communities, and families across Canada. An early signatory to the UN Principles of Responsible Investment, Leith Wheeler has extensive experience in the not-for-profit sector and has been a long-standing partner of the community foundation movement.

For more information on the program:

Alison SidneyManager,
Strategic Initiatives

For more information about Leith Wheeler:

Mike Wallberg, CFA MJ VP Marketing & Communications mikew@leithwheeler.com | 604 677 0195