Small Island, Big Impact

CICF listens to community needs, supports local organizations, and invests in a thriving future through endowed funds, granting, and program incubation.

CICF is one of 200 community foundations in Canada and 700 in the US. We work with other foundations to develop innovative strategies that support our communities.

What is a Community Foundation

How Does a Community Foundation work?

Our Mission

The Cortes Island Community Foundation supports a vibrant and thriving community by enhancing a diversity of local initiatives, programs, and social profits.

The Cortes Island Community Foundation works to support a community thriving in respectful relationship with our natural home by: 

Supporting and enhancing the wide variety of nonprofits, charities, community organizations, programs, and initiatives on the island that help maintain a vibrant and vital community.

Assessing and understanding the needs and opportunities of Cortes Island and the community through research, listening projects, assessment programs, and relationship building.

Engaging divergent interests, encouraging cooperation and collaboration to move projects forward, enhance community connectivity, and engage individually and collectively in the work of reconciliation.

Our Network

Cortes Island Community Foundation is one of 191 other community foundations in Canada and over 700 in the U.S. Each of these community foundations helps to build and strengthen its own community by encouraging and supporting local philanthropy and by connecting people and organizations who want to make a difference.

Our Story

Cortes Island grabs the hearts of visitors and residents alike. First home to the Klahoose, Sliammen and Homalco peoples, the island now boasts a small but vibrant community of people from all over the globe. We live amongst the ancient cedars and surrounded by the Salish Sea. While the forests, wildlife and sunsets might be the first things to attract people to the island, we stay and fall in love with Cortes because of the community. Neighbours know and rely on one and other here. In fact, most of the social services that Canadian’s have come to depend upon: food banks, agricultural support, youth programs, and even a high school education are provided by volunteers and small social profit organizations. We are a community that takes care of each other.

Unfortunately, like many small isolated communities, we are a community struggling with inequities. While the average cost of a home on Cortes is near a million dollars, more than a third of the island’s renters are considered “vulnerable” to homelessness, and many struggle to find housing at all in the summer months. The median income for families on Cortes is about half that of the rest of BC, and a quarter of all children on Cortes live in poverty. Childcare and early childhood education are a challenge for families of young children, and the drop out numbers for high school age students are impacted by the fact that many families cannot afford to send their students to board in communities with a high school.

Cortes Islanders are lucky however, because we have a community of more than 30 grassroots organizations, nonprofits, and charities doing the work of helping support all islanders, human and nonhuman, and the place itself. And the Cortes Island Community Foundation exists to support these organizations and all islanders to thrive in respectful relationship with our natural home. We hope you will learn more about us, our community, and this place.

Our People

Ian Watson. Board Member.

Runner. Meditator. Traveler.

Christina MacWilliam. Board Member.

Trying to live in the space between the notes.

Forrest Berman-Hatch. Board Member.

Lucky to have grown up on Cortes and its surrounding waters. Happy to pay it forward. Likes telling stories. Mostly true.

Mark Spevakow. Board Member.

Loves the water and the view from Easter Bluff.

Manda Aufochs Gillespie. Executive Director.

Writer by night, cold water "dipper" by day, avid reader anytime. She believes in the power of neighbourliness.

Richard Andrews. Village Commons Project Manager.

Builder, land use geek, thrives in the magic of common cause, loves a feast.

Isabella McKnight. Executive Administrator.

Cortes kid who is all grow up. Marketing student and ocean lover.

Ayton Novak. Board Member.

Stewarding shared power, prosperity and kindness. Learning to love oysters.

Christopher Fleck. Board Member.

Music passioneer. Supporter of human and environmental wellbeing.

Jennifer Hartwick. Board Member.

Kate Maddigan. Board Member.

Always amazed at how full life can be on a small remote island.

Andrea Fisher. Special Projects Manager.

Nurturing the seeds of community connection.

Check out our Community Jury Members, who have participated in a multitude of different grants.

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