Celebrating our 30th Anniversary by chatting with Past President and CEO, Doug Clovechok

Did you know our foundation has connections to renowned Calgary philanthropists, held some crazy fundraisers, won an International award, and impacted hundreds of thousands of students? A lot can happen in three decades!

On our 30th Anniversary we want to share some of our interesting history. Luckily, we were able to chat with our very first President and CEO, Doug Clovechok, who is currently serving as MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke and is the Caucus Whip. He ran the charity for 19 years and fondly remembers these highlights of his time with TEPF. We asked Doug the following:  

How was TEPF, formerly Calgary Educational Partnership Foundation (CEPF), founded?

1991 a group of prominent Calgary businesswomen and men, including Calgary oil man and philanthropist, Jim Gray were inspired by several business and education partnerships including the partnership between Nova Corporation and Crescent Heights High School that was helping students and offering business leadership and mentoring opportunities. The idea was why not create a foundation that could partner business with Calgary and area schools and school districts in order to meet unique student needs and offer curriculum driven programs that would otherwise not exist.

With a $5000 cheque from the government of Alberta and some donated office space in the Canadian Hunter Exploration building in downtown Calgary, I was seconded from the Calgary Board of Education, where I had worked as a teacher and administrator, and was hired as Present and CEO of the Calgary Educational Partnership Foundation.

What was the original vision and what programs have been delivered over the years?

Originally, the vision was to bring education into the business community, build programs that would enhance learning opportunities for students in partnership with businesses. In fact, the model was based on the Ottawa Carlton Learning Foundation. CEPF Programs were created with needs/objectives defined by partnered school districts and schools.

Of course, the longest running is the Reading… Give it Shot! program which is still relevant and meeting the literacy needs of students in Alberta. Other programs that met student needs were: Stay in School Ski Day Mentoring Program. Student Futures Conference, Employability Skills Portfolio.Women in Technology, Buffalo Keepers and Deerfoot Run, Dr. Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots Program and Mayors Excellence Awards Dinner.

We heard that there have been some fascinating fundraising events during the early days, can you tell us about that?

As you know, Calgary can be a very generous city and during boom times when business leaders learned about our programs, they would simply write us a cheque. It’s very different today, but while the Calgary Chamber of Commerce was involved, many of the downtown businesses were aware of CEPF and the good work being done.

Here’s one crazy fundraiser we held though called Meadow Muffin Madness.  We held the event over three blocks of Stephen Ave walkway, where we blocked off the area and brought in dairy cows. Must have been Stampede time! Various squares were drawn on the road and a competition was held to guess where a “muffin” or cow patty would be deposited. Yes, it raised a lot eyebrows and a fair bit money for the foundation!

I recall one outstanding in-kind donation where the Petro Canada School Resources Program completely furnished a new Junior High School

One auction item was donated by CP Rail to raise funds. They donated a heritage diner car and a fabulous dinner trip to Field with special guests, Premier Klein and his wife!

What are some of the names of the business leaders involved with the foundation at this time?

There were many and some of the ones I remember are Gary Tushingham, Bob Steele(the Foundations 1st Chair), John Ballheim, Brenda Gladstone, Jim Dinning, Cindy Riddell, Kevin Gregor(the Foundations 2nd Chair), Greg Yuzwa, Dave Gregory (the Foundations longest standing Chair), Stan Webber, Sherold Moore, Jim Chaput ,  Fred Green, SVP, CP Rail at the time (served as Chair for a year), Tim Flamen, Irene Phiffer, Liz Loveccheo, Lynn Nishamura. (to mention a few) Former Stampeder, Mark Mclaughlin was the CEPF Program Director as well.

What were some of the charity partnerships you recall CEPF being involved with?

Partnered with many foundations including the Marigold Foundation and Kanoff Foundation.

Over the years the foundation has had a few Calgary locations. Do you recall where they were?

We started out at the Canadian Hunter Offices then it was moved to Parkdale School. After that there was a beltline office where the 2013 flood destroyed much of the history of CEPF.

How would you sum up the 19 years you spent with CEPF?

Looking back, I have to say I loved it all! I and the others involved are so proud that it grew and continues to grow beyond those who had the honor to start it all. Mist important is the impact this organization had and still has on kids.  It was started with the vision of helping kids in school and their lives and continues to fulfill that vision,

Calgary has always had a unique culture of giving generously to community and CEPF shared many of its successes with other charities.

Thank you, Doug for sharing a tiny bit of your history with TEPF. We are pleased to be able to continue with the legacy of our foundation and reach 740,000 students in Alberta. We wouldn’t be here today without your leadership and commitment to our community.

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