Community is where we live, where we work and where we play. For the Suncor Energy Foundation (SEF), it’s important those three things go together in ways that support well-being and relationships – both now and for generations ahead.

Sometimes, that means connecting employees to organizations who are actively working to address community issues.

Gary Millard, Sustainability Disclosure and Integration Manager at Suncor, says that his involvement with Energy Futures Lab allows him to expand environmental and social outcomes from the energy industry beyond what he could do within just one company. “The Lab’s workshops are a combination of dreaming big and taking meaningful action,” says Gary. “Being part of this group is exciting, optimistic and challenging. Perhaps the best part is that great ideas aren't just ideas, they turn into real actions.”

Gary’s comments are also echoed by SEF’s community partners. In a recent conversation between SEF’s Board of Directors and Doug Dokis, National Indigenous Youth in STEM program advisor at Actua, Doug spoke of the friendships he’s built with Suncor employees through SEF. Those friendships make it possible to reach an understanding where a resource extraction company, like Suncor, can ethically support land-based education for Indigenous youth. SEF and Suncor have worked with Actua for almost two decades to remove barriers between Indigenous youth, connecting Indigenous ways of knowing with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The SEF Board routinely hears from community partners like Doug. “It’s a reminder of what we’re doing and why,” says Kelli Stevens, SEF and Social Innovation Manager. “As we move further into the discussions about how SEF operates and seeks Board approvals for decisions we’re making, it’s helpful to be able to refer back to the stories of impact shared by our partners.”

In 2023, SEF donated $24 million to its partners and is on track to make similar contributions in 2024. In addition to the dollars, there’s also recognition of how SEF leans into developing authentic connections. For organizations like Energy Futures Lab and Actua, that means breaking down barriers to innovation – beyond just the technical ones.

The same day that the SEF Board heard from Energy Futures Lab and Actua, they also met Bruce MacDonald, CEO of Imagine Canada, an organization that supports the whole non-profit sector – from government advocacy to human resources practices to cybersecurity. “Working with SEF really feels like a relationship, and that’s not the case with all funders,” says Bruce. “SEF’s support helps us act collectively across Canada – helping us develop and flex new muscles.”

If you want to stay up to date on recent decisions from SEF and their board and what informs their thinking, subscribe to SEF’s newsletter.