Calgary, AB – December 14, 2023 – Amazon Web Services (AWS) today announced the recipients of the first AWS InCommunities Calgary Fund, which provides grants to individuals, local community groups, schools, non-profits and other Calgary-area organizations making an impact in the community. Applicants submitted projects focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEM/STEAM) Education, Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity—with an emphasis on Truth and Reconciliation, Homelessness & Food Insecurity, and Health & Well-Being. In total, twenty-five recipients will receive a collective total of CA$175,000 in grants, managed and administered by non-profit organization ChangeX.

“At AWS, we’re committed to building stronger, more sustainable, and more vibrant local communities. One of the ways we do this is by supporting the work of local organizations to enhance their neighbourhoods and create lasting impact,” said Réjean Bourgault, Managing Director, AWS Canada Public Sector. “We received an impressive number of applications, all of which demonstrated great potential to help make Calgary an even better place to live. In light of this, we’ve increased our initial commitment of $100,000 to a total of $175,000 in grants, to support even more projects in the area. We’re excited to help bring these initiatives to life and expand the scope of their impact.”

Providing access to science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics education for all

Scientists in School is a charitable organization that aims to bring hands-on, immersive workshops to vulnerable children in Calgary. “Pre-existing educational inequities were compounded by the pandemic, which means children from vulnerable populations need learning support more than ever,” said Cindy Adams, Executive Director at Scientists in School. “This support will help Scientists in School multiply our impact for children and youth in lower-income or otherwise under-served neighbourhoods, increasing the number of rich, hands-on STEM workshops we are able to provide. Together, we are helping build a strong foundation in science education and inspiring future generations to pursue careers in STEM.”

The First LEGO League program encourages youth ages 4-16 and their adult mentors to solve real-world problems while building LEGO. MindFuel, which supports the development of an innovation mindset in youth through curricular and extracurricular formats, will launch two projects with the funds received. Three projects designed for primary and secondary education students will be led by C and C Education Foundation, which aims to foster Leadership, Mentorship and Fellowship for new Chinese immigrants and their families. IndigeSTEAM Society will train community members in STEM through an indigenous-led and culturally-relevant program. Through Escape with STEM, indigenous students will be inspired to pursue STEM careers, while Realize Your Potential Youth Society of Alberta will inspire youth from the African diaspora. FIRST Alberta is another community fund awardee whose programming will be supported by AWS for a bigger impact.

To promote arts education, Calgary Philharmonic, which has grown to be one of Canada’s most celebrated live music ensembles, will be able to bring 370 children (K-Grade 6) from underserved communities and children with disabilities to its second Educational Concert thanks to the AWS InCommunities Calgary Fund. "These children will now encounter a live orchestra, probably for the first time, and potentially grow a life-long appreciation of the performing arts,” said Marc Stevens, President and CEO at Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Inside Out Theatre, Calgary’s Deaf & Disability Theatre company, will use funding expand the work they are already doing with The Alzheimer’s Society of Calgary to host an improv theatre club for people with dementia.

Women Owned Narratives (WON), a grassroots team of female-identifying individuals committed to fostering diversity and inclusivity in the workforce, is one of several grant recipients. The group will use funding to launch an event called “Finding Your Voices in STEM Careers”.

Tackling homelessness and food insecurity

Numerous projects were submitted to support those experiencing homelessness and food insecurity. Awardees include Calgary Meals on Wheels, the Distress Centre Calgary, BeTheChangeYYC, Immigrant Services Calgary Society, Mount Royal University’s Care Cupboards, Ranchlands Community Association, and the Rock Soup Greenhouse and Food Bank. A community fridge will be purchased and installed in the Erin Woods area Indigenous Youth Centre, as well as a rooftop garden for teaching urban Indigenous youth about traditional food and medicine, created by the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth. Shelter Movers is another grant recipient focused on supporting vulnerable and underserved people in Calgary. “Catalyzed by AWS’ generous support, Shelter Movers Calgary remains dedicated to empowering our community’s most vulnerable individuals, primarily women and children, by providing essential assistance in breaking free from the confines of gender-based violence,” said Kristein Johnson, Manager of Fund Development at Shelter Movers Alberta.

Building healthier, more sustainable communities

Programs focused on Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability were also among selected recipients. A Compost Club will be started to demonstrate the benefits of quality compost through educational programs working in partnership with a local urban farm. Strathmore High School will improve accessibility to its community greenhouse. In addition, Highfield Regenerative Farm will teach more than 1,500 K-Grade 12 students and adults about pollinator-friendly habitats through a Pollinator Partnership program. Highfield Regenerative Farm is working in partnership with the Compost Council of Canada and the City of Calgary to transform vacant industrial property into a vibrant and productive urban farm through soil revitalization, food production and community programming. “Funds will help us enhance the beauty and aesthetics of the community farm hub, while also offering opportunities for community members, especially children and students, to learn about the importance of pollinators, their life cycles, and the role they play in our ecosystems,” said Allehea Bowen, Pollinator Pals’ Programs and Education Coordinator.

AWS Continues to Invest in Calgary

Though this is the first AWS grant program in Calgary, it is part of a larger collection of community outreach programs driven by AWS throughout Calgary designed to make a positive impact.

In 2021, AWS announced plans to launch a new infrastructure Region in Calgary—representing a CA $4.3 billion investment over 15 years—in late 2023 or early 2024. In 2022, AWS announced two AWS re/Start Programs in Calgary offered through local organizations, including Momentum. The free 12-week cohort-based workforce development training program prepares individuals for careers in the cloud and connects them to potential employers. In July 2023, AWS announced the first AWS Fiber Optic Fusion Splicing Certificate Course in Canada, also offered through Momentum, in Calgary. The two-day fiber optic installation and repair workshops, offered at no cost to participants, aims to create a pipeline of qualified specialized talent to support local and national companies requiring fiber optic installation and repair. Both initiatives will help develop a future-proof workforce in Calgary, and are part of Amazon’s commitment to train 29 million people around the world for free on cloud and technical skills by 2025.

AWS InCommunities Fund

The AWS InCommunities Fund was first launched in 2021 in Ireland. It was designed to provide individuals, community groups, schools, non-profits, and other organizations with resources to drive positive change and have a meaningful and lasting impact on the neighbourhoods they call home. With the response to the program overwhelmingly positive, the program was quickly expanded and has since been rolled out in Mexico, Spain, the U.S., and now Canada.

From August 1 through October 6, 2023, AWS held an open call for applications for the fund, with interested applicants able to apply for up to $10,000 in funding for projects that suit the needs of Calgarians. The program is part of the AWS commitment to making a positive impact in the communities where it has presence.