Oilers Foundation donates school to struggling inner city organization

On Friday, Inner City Youth Development Association (ICYDA) went from tenants to owners of their high school and the land it sits on thanks to the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF).

The donation is worth over $5 million, and according to ICYDA, it was given at the perfect time.

“We were just struggling to make ends meet, especially during COVID-19. The gift was just amazing for us and the youth that come to the school,” said ICYDA’s Joe Cloutier

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For the last ten years, ICYDA has leased the space from the Oilers Foundation, which purchased and renovated the former Native Friendship Centre to house a new space for the high school.

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The school provides a variety of services to students which includes a youth engagement program, counseling and mental health supports, and food services.

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“The youth feel so proud of having the building and they see it as their own. To have it handed to us… you can’t beat it. It’s just a wonderful feeling,” Cloutier said.

Garrett Brighteyes, an Inner City High School student, said the school feels like a second home to him.

“It’s helped me when I was in a very rough place in my life and it continues to help me,” said Brighteyes.

Cloutier said the timing was right for the ownership of the building to shift into new hands.

“I think the Foundation bridged us to independence over the past ten years,” he said. “They helped us financially, they helped us renovate.”

The EOCF’s Natalie Minckler said the Foundation will also commit to helping the organization achieve financial success over the next few years, using part of the money raised through the Oilers’ 50/50 raffle.

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“That additional support will solidify them and allow them to be self-sustainable,” Minckler said. “We also used some of that 50/50 money last week to purchase $100,000 of remaining food from hub city activities and we donated that prior to Thanksgiving to Edmonton’s Food Bank.”

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