The Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta has given $221,725 to students and groups in the region. That money was handed out through grants during Wednesday night’s Invest Northwest event. Foundation CEO Tracy Vavrek says she’s always excited to give back such a large amount of money every year.

“We’re so happy because we know the importance of the dollars going out to the community. These dollars are hard at work… We also know that these organizations need the support so when we can offer them extra grants and extra funding like this it’s almost like Christmas.”

The money was collected by the foundation through donations, third party fundraising, and gifts from estates. That money is then divided up and given out to community groups as well as post-secondary students in the area.

One of those groups was HIV North. It applied for extra funding and received $2000 to keep its LGBTQ youth art program going. Executive Director Melissa Byers says without the foundation’s help, the program would not be able to continue.

“We’re so excited because without donations like this we wouldn’t be able to run the programs we run in the way that we run them so it’s quite exciting and it feels very empowering.”

Last year, the foundation was able to give more than $168,000 back to the community. Since it was founded in 1996, it has invested more than $4.6 million back into the region.