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Pauw Foundation donates $36,000 to empower young leaders in the Bow Valley through innovative leadership program

The Canadian Rockies Public Schools (CRPS) launched its inaugural Grade 7 Leadership Program in September, a transformative initiative designed to cultivate valuable leadership skills and inspire young leaders throughout the Bow Valley.


Supported by a donation of $36,000 from the Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation, this innovative program is designed to empower students, develop lifelong leadership skills, and make a positive impact across local communities.


Students will explore essential leadership skills through practical and engaging training that includes hands-on learning opportunities, outdoor team-building exercises, and collaborative group work. The program kicked off with students helping remove more than 10-truck loads of bear-attracting dogwood trees from the Bow Valley Campground in a project led by Friends of Kananaskis Country.

Spirit North

“The Grade 7 Leadership Program demonstrates all of the key elements of the Foundation’s vision by helping students remain active, vibrant, and engaged,” said Cathy Geisler, Executive Director of the Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation. “Through their participation, students learn valuable leadership and life skills, forge a strong connection with nature, and build a deep understanding of the importance of commitment to one’s community.”


Key to the program is the formation of cross-community bonds among CRPS students from Banff Elementary, Exshaw, and Lawrence Grassi Middle schools. This unique approach encourages students to develop leadership skills within diverse groups and help foster a Bow Valley-wide community of young leaders.

Canadian Rockies Public Schools

“Leadership is being able to lead yourself before you can lead others. This program encourages students to learn more about themselves and, in turn, who is around them. This will help them build the skills to work together as a strong team — one that respects each other, listens to each voice, and truly cares for each other,” said Colleen Lee, coordinator with the Outdoor Learning Centre. “The funding from the Pauw Foundation has been the key piece in helping this program come to life and we are so grateful for their support.”


Superintendent of Schools Christopher MacPhee echoed Lee’s sentiments, saying, “At CRPS, we believe that leadership isn’t just a trait, it’s an ethos. Cultivating student leadership is fundamental to our division’s vision. Together with the support of the Pauw Foundation, we’re investing in our students today to ensure they become the thoughtful, proactive community leaders of tomorrow.”


The Grade 7 Leadership Program will continue to offer experiential learning opportunities throughout the school year, centered around the natural beauty of the Bow Valley. The program’s culmination in June will see students embarking on an overnight trip to YMCA Camp Chief Hector, providing them with an opportunity to reflect on their transformative learning experiences.



Learn more about how the Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation continues to support a more active, vibrant, and happy community.

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"Supporting a more active, vibrant, happy community"