May 28, 2020 – A partnership between the Central Okanagan Foundation (COF), the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen (CFSOS), the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan, and United Way Southern Interior BC (UWSIBC), has granted over $300,000 to 35 projects and programs directly dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union, also co-funded investments in the South Okanagan region.

“After reaching out to community and charity partners, we discovered that many were experiencing dire circumstances and needed help immediately,” says Kahir Lalji, Executive Director of United Way SIBC. “Heartfelt thanks to the many donors who’ve contributed to the Relief Fund, and to all those who continue to provide essential front-line social and community service during the pandemic.”

After launching a combined application, the group expedited the grant review process and came to an agreement on the most pressing charities and causes to fund in the first phase of allocations. These include essential supplies for food banks, families in need, meal programs, support for vulnerable women and individuals facing isolation and mental health supports, technology upgrades and program adaptations so organizations can adhere to physical distancing requirements while continuing to serve their clients safely.

Funding has been approved for the following agencies in each region:

Central Okanagan – $121,919: 

  • CMHA Kelowna Branch
  • Community Recreational Initiatives Society
  • Connect Counselling
  • Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Kelowna Gospel Mission Dental Clinic
  • Kelowna Community Resources
  • Lake Country Health Planning Society
  • Mamas for Mamas
  • Seniors Outreach Services Society
  • The Salvation Army Kelowna

David Knapp, Executive Director at Central Okanagan Foundation adds, “From the outset, the COF Board was hugely supportive of this fast, collaborative approach, and we are grateful for the ongoing support & generosity of our corporate and individual donors for responding quickly to the need. We are proud to do our part in supporting the extraordinary organizations who do so much for our community every day, but especially now when they are facing seemingly insurmountable challenges with courage and creativity.”

North Okanagan, Columbia, Shuswap – $113,200: 

  • BrainTrust Canada
  • Canadian Mental Health Association – Vernon
  • Community Connections Society (Revelstoke)
  • Community Dental Access Centre (Vernon)
  • Good Food Box North Okanagan
  • Enderby and District Community Resource Centre
  • Habitat for Humanity Vernon
  • HOPE Outreach
  • North Okanagan Friendship Centre
  • Independent Living Vernon
  • Kindale Developmental Association (Vernon)
  • Salvation Army Vernon
  • Vernon Upper Room Mission
  • Whitevalley Community Resource Centre (Lumby)

“The guiding principle for this partnership is to mobilize funds to help quickly without letting overly onerous application procedures slow us down,” says Leanne Hammond, Executive Director of CFNO. “This is a time for trust-based philanthropy and collaboration. Ask charities what they need to help people, get them the resources to do it, and get out of their way.”

South Okanagan, Similkameen – $70,000+: 

  • Canadian Mental Health Association – SOS
  • Desert Sun Counselling
  • Ooknakane Friendship Centre
  • Penticton Soupateria
  • Pathway’s Addiction Resource Centre
  • Princeton Foodbank
  • Princeton Family Services
  • St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank
  • School District 67- food for school families
  • South Okanagan Immigrant Society
  • Starfish Backpack Program



“We are proud to collaborate with UWSIBC and Valley First to provide direct and immediate support to these local organizations in the South Okanagan Similkameen who are dealing with the fallout from COVID19,” said McRann. “The Community Response Fund is also a way for donors and interested citizens to pool their donations to make a bigger impact in their community,” added McRann.

“There is strength in numbers and this is a perfect example of that. In order to support the sustainability and, in some cases, increasing need for organizations that are providing some of the most critical services in our communities, we are pleased to create a funding partnership with the United Way and the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen,” said Paulo Araujo, President of Valley First. “We are all in this together, helping our members and our communities thrive.”

In addition, the Government of Canada launched the Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) in partnership with United Way Centraide Canada, Community Foundations of Canada and the Canadian Red Cross. Each organization is offering funding based on their unique criteria but all grants are intended to support the most vulnerable affected by the pandemic in our communities. Eligible applicants are encouraged to apply.

The United Way ECSF applications are being accepted from registered charities and other qualified donees until June 26, 2020 with allocations announced in July:

Central Okanagan Foundation applications are being accepted until July 27, 2020 on the national portal:

Funded by the Government of Canada




To learn more about the community efforts to support the charitable sector during COVID-19, please visit each of our websites:

Download the regional Media Releases:

All regions

Central Okanagan

North Okanagan

South Okanagan