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Our Community Partners: innovative thinking to continue programs during COVID-19

Students at the opening of the Cenovus Classroom at the Calgary Public Library in May 2019
Students at the opening of the Cenovus Classroom at the Calgary Public Library in May 2019.

May 2020 - At Cenovus we are proud to give back to the communities in which we live and work. Over the years we have supported many community organizations through donations, volunteering and in-kind contributions, and we continue our support during times of crisis, including the current COVID-19 public health emergency.

“Right now, our community partners, and their programs, are needed more than ever,” explains Leanne Courchesne, Lead for Community Investment at Cenovus. “Many of our partners have gone above and beyond to pivot the way they operate and ensure their vital programing can continue during this challenging time. Cenovus is happy to continue our support of these organizations now and in the future as part of our commitment to giving youth a chance.”

Below are just a few examples of how our partners are continuing their programming and keeping the health of communities top of mind.

Calgary Public Library
Normally at this time of year, the Calgary Public Library would be busy with students, teachers and other programming and the Cenovus classroom at the Central location would be fully booked until the end of the school year. However, with COVID-19 closing all library locations and book drops, the Calgary Public Library has switched focus to their already well-established online services. In addition to being able to access a wide variety of resources through Library at Home, people are encouraged to curl up with a book during this time of physical distancing with programs like the Shelf Isolation Read-a-thon.

Calgary Reads - Children’s Reading Place
Working closely with parents, teachers, and communities, Calgary Reads provides books and resources to children with one goal in mind – to inspire the love of reading. When Calgary Reads had to close its Children’s Reading Place due to COVID-19, the organization quickly mobilized to provide books and other supplies to children in need. Over past weeks, they have been providing books, craft supplies, and food access information to families who have been identified as highest priority by partner community agencies and schools.

I Can for Kids Foundation and Community Kitchen
Thousands of kids in Calgary face food insecurity on a regular basis so the early closure of schools has been extremely difficult for those already vulnerable and for thousands more who are experiencing food insecurity for the first time. With the support of partner agencies like the Community Kitchen Program, I Can for Kids quickly launched their summer program months ahead of schedule to provide grocery gift cards to children and families in need. To date, they have distributed about $150,000 in grocery cards to support more than 6,000 kids facing hunger. Given current challenges with food supply and physical distancing, I Can for Kids has made the decision to extend their current grocery gift card program through the summer months and supplement the cards with donated food as it becomes available.

Inside Education
Inside Education regularly supports teachers and inspires students on issues related to environment and natural resources. With the sudden closure of schools in March, Inside Education quickly did a survey of Alberta teachers to determine how they could best support the new remote classrooms. They received overwhelming response and were able to develop several virtual resources to assist teachers and students in learning from home including a Digital Classroom of curriculum based activities and a series of professional development workshops for teachers.

YouthLink
YouthLink Calgary Police Interpretive Centre is a non-profit organization that focuses on crime prevention, community policing and education. YouthLink’s programming is always in high demand by Calgary schools so with the early closure of schools in March, they quickly looked for alternatives to support the community during COVID-19. Recently, YouthLink launched a series of virtual learning alternatives to support families, youth and teachers. The first learning adventure is available online and @YouthLinkYYC on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.