In 2006, David Werklund and his daughter, Deanna Werklund began the Werklund Foundation to make a positive difference in people’s lives through initiatives that produced sustainable results. That same year, David and his two oldest children, Mark and Deanna, attended a world-class leadership program that ultimately shaped the future of the family foundation.
When Deanna participated in the program, she realized that all of the participants had the same thought: they wished that they had been given the opportunity to attend this type of program as a teenager. Deanna envisaged providing all teenagers with this type of training as a vehicle to empower students with the skills necessary to excel in life. Deanna shared this vision with her father and with his tremendous support, mentorship and empowerment, they pursued this vision with an innovative leadership initiative called Empowering Minds.
David's personal business success had taught him to strive for excellence and to measure results. The Werklund Foundation elected to research this leadership program through a formal, long-term independent evaluation with the University of Calgary. In 2008, the study was completed and the University of Calgary found the results profound and unprecedented—the Teen Leadership program delivered dramatic improvements in emotional intelligence, the ability to adapt to change, competence and goal attainment. The results exceeded everyone's expectations and the Werklunds realized they had discovered a catalyst for social change.
The Werklund Foundation's Empowering Minds™ program was managed by the Werklund Foundation until June 2012 when it became its own independent public charity, one that the Werklund Foundation continues to support. Empowering Minds continues to profoundly impact students and has helped shape the mandate of the Werklund Foundation with a youth-centred focus on building confidence and resiliency in our youth.
The Werklund Foundation continued to invest in youth through a number of charitable initiatives. Significant donations have been made to SPARK, The Telus World of Science; the AWALI Group to establish an Institute for Educational Development in East Africa; the AWALI reads program to create literacy programs in Tanzania; and to the Werklund Foundation Centre for Youth Leadership at the University of Calgary as a means to propose, develop and publish research focused on youth leadership education - hosting academic meetings, symposiums, and workshops for scholars, teachers and community members.
Other partnerships include the Calgary Arts Academy - to embrace new education methods and learning style theories through the arts; and We.Org to establish a comprehensive national youth service strategy to equip all young Canadians with the academic knowledge, personal skill development and social engagement they need to become true leaders of social change in their communities.
Please see our current and past partnerships pages for additional information on organizations and initiatives supported by the Foundation.
Giving to charity isn’t new; it’s a practice that has been popular for thousands of years. Research shows us that even through unconventional methods, the act of charitable giving has had its place in the history books for ages and is still growing in popularity. Wealthy, modern philanthropists of our time stand beside Ancient Greeks and clergy members alike as those who have done their part in donating both time and precious resources to those in need. Philanthropy is clearly rooted in history and the Werklund Family has always believed that charitable giving is something that everyone is capable of and is a practice that should be embraced. The Foundation wishes to focus on initiatives where they can provide a hand up instead of a hand out.
The Foundation Board of Directors has appointed a Donation Committee to oversee the grants program and recommend awards for their approval. The committee continues to examine charitable opportunities and provide funding to strategic initiatives that fulfill the Foundation’s mandate and other initiatives that accomplish goals complementary to the values and beliefs of the Werklund Family.