History of the Brandon Area Community Foundation

1965 – Miniskirts were hot and war was cold. The Beatles said love was all anyone needed, but families built A-bomb bunkers just in case.  The ghosts of Camelot haunted yesterday and mushroom clouds threatened every tomorrow, yet five local gentlemen – Joseph Secter, Stephen Magnacca, Reginald Lissaman, Robert Addison Clement and Victor Rosenman – gathered their collective faith in the future to create the Brandon Area Foundation as a legacy for generations to come.

 On May 11th 1965, five forward-looking men petitioned for the incorporation of the Brandon Area Foundation, and thus assured that this community would benefit forever from their generosity and foresight. These are the men, who in so many ways, made Brandon and Area history.

Joseph Secter was a merchant in the city of Winnipeg in 1965 although he and his wife Gwen lived in Brandon from the time of their marriage in 1939 until 1950. Their three sons and a daughter were all born in Brandon. In honour of their silver anniversary, Gwen and Joe made a gift of $25,000 to establish the Brandon Area Foundation. This gift not only marked, in a memorable way, their anniversary but also honoured the community where they had begun their marriage, their family and their business.

Stephen A. Magnacca, a realtor, was at that time Mayor of the City of Brandon, a position he held from 1961 to 1968.

Reginad O. Lissaman was prominent in the building trade in Brandon. He served the Brandon Constituency as a Member of the Legislative assembly from 1952 to 1966.

Robert Addison Clement, a barrister-at-law, acted as treasurer for the foundation from 1965-1970.

Vic Rosenman, a merchant in the City of Brandon, was a member of the foundation Board of Directors for twenty years, most of that time serving as President.

The newly created foundation began granting funds in 1967. Though the amounts were not large, the granting continued each year. As further contributions were received the monetary value of the grants began to increase. The funds were distributed among various sectors – health, education, music, arts, sports and the environment throughout Brandon and Southwestern Manitoba

The Endowment Fund

In June 1998 an agreement was signed between the Brandon Area Foundation and The Thomas Sill Foundation. The Sill Foundation agreed to match every dollar raised by BACF with a $0.50 contribution to a limit of $200,000 over a period of 3 years. This was the beginning of a fund-raising campaign that resulted in an additional $770,000 to the Brandon Area Foundation’s endowment fund. The Board of Directors and with some help from community volunteers, the foundation’s assets increased to $1.2 million in 2 years. From 1965 – 2015 that initial gift of $25,000 has grown to an endowment fund of $7.1 million.

Entering the Third Millennium

The growth in the endowment fund precipitated several changes in board operations and in the community profile of the foundation. In 2002, the Foundation name was altered slightly to reflect our function in the community and be consistent with our national body, Community Foundations of Canada. We became Brandon Area Community Foundation, adopted the “sunrise and wheat-fields logo exclusively, and changed our colors to yellow and blue.

BACF endowment assets had more than tripled since 1998 to $1.5 million, and our operational needs paralleled that growth. We increased our Board Members to twelve, began involving community members in our committees and in the fall of 2002 hired Les Milne as our first part-time Executive Director. 2002 also saw an Administrative Endowment Fund established to help ensure our viability as a community philanthropic entity.  Under Les’s leadership BACF moved to a new level. Not only was he part of the Thomas Sill Foundation Challenge Campaign that tripled our assets, he brought structure and organization to board activities and spearheaded BACF community leadership, through the McConnell Foundation Environmental Project.

Our founders knew there was immense work ahead of them to rach the goal of having the endowment funds at the level to consistently invest back into the community.  We are proud of the ahrd work of our founders