Cracker's "The Bistro" Succeeds With Help from the Winnipeg Foundation

Cracker's The Bistro, the 1999 winner of Xerox Canada sponsored Manitoba School Board Innovation Award, is an integral part of the Occupational Skills Program at Windsor Park Collegiate. As a free-standing restaurant for the whole community, Crackers has become a living classroom for mentally challenged youth to learn skills for independent living. This program focuses on mentally challenged young adults, ages 16 - 21. With this facility, the students are now able to illustrate to the broader community their ability rather than their disability.

Jeff Kenny, Director of Fund Development for St. Boniface School Division writes. "I just received a grant from The Winnipeg Foundation for almost $40,000 for Cracker's The Bistro. I mention it because The Winnipeg Foundation usually stays clear of any public school institution. Funding of any type of school based program by them is very, very rare. After reading their Big Online profile, I felt that I had a good project that matched their funding criteria so I decided to pursue it. After a personal visit to their office, 10 months of work and a visit by them to the project requiring funding, they granted me the amount I requested (every penny)! PS: your database is great and worth every dollar it costs."

Additional funding was received from:

Sears Canada Inc. - $1000
F. K. Morrow Foundation - $5,000
(And two thousand from an anonymous donor)

Jeff's Tips for Success are as follows:

  1. Jeff researched by doing key word searches for education and Winnipeg. Checking the giving history section, he noticed a strong emphasis on community based initiatives in the profile for the Winnipeg Foundation.
  2. He went a little further by reading their annual report.
  3. By this time, he was definitely at the cultivation stage. The first call was made to the Foundation, and a visit to their office was set up. St. Boniface School Division invited Helen Quinn, the community grants officer to visit their bistro. After spending time at the cafe, she had seen enough of the program in action to move to final approval of the grant.
  4. A last note on timing! Jeff started working on his approach to the Winnipeg Foundation just after their previous deadline. All in all the process took close to a year. By beginning well before the deadline, he avoided being caught in the last minute rush. Time was available for careful evaluation and this was likely a critical factor in his eventual success.

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