Women Building Futures (WBF) became registered as a non-profit society in 1998. It was a small group of women - social workers mostly - who set out to fulfill their shared dream of helping women achieve economic prosperity through trades training and mentorship.
Working out of an office space ‘borrowed’ from the City of Edmonton, WBF focused on securing small grants to run a series of three-week classes on carpentry.
As the organization continued to grow, an Executive Director was hired and WBF signed a three-year lease on a 4,000 square foot basement on 112th Street and Jasper Avenue. It was at this new location, renovated into a training center, that the WBF assessment process to help women determine their readiness and ‘fit’ with a career in the trades began to take shape. The design and delivery of a 14- week pre-trades program focusing on carpentry, plumbing and electrical was actualized, and as a result, the construction industry began to take notice.
In December 2005 WBF purchased an old warehouse located at 10326 107 Street in downtown Edmonton, with the intention of retrofitting it into a training and affordable housing facility. Experience to this point had proven that many women cannot afford to pay market rent and go to school at the same time, especially single mothers. By adding affordable housing, WBF became much more accessible to those the founders originally set out to help.
By April 2006 the move to 107 Street was complete and WBF procured the funds to hire an architect to design a versatile building that would entail everything WBF envisioned (i.e., housing, training facilities, classrooms and offices).
November of that same year marked the beginning of a challenging two-year period where both student training and renovations of the old warehouse took place. Staff set up a camp behind the warehouse where classes could take place without interruption from the renovations. Regardless of adversity, the program was now 17-weeks long and included introduction to six trades - carpentry, plumbing, electrical, steamfitting/pipefitting, welding and sheet metal. The graduate success rate continued to climb and all staff stayed on board during this period; a true display of the tenacity that makes WBF a success.
The WBF Housing Facility and Suncor Energy Training Centre officially opened in June, 2008. This facility, the first of its kind in Canada, was made possible by many partners including Suncor Energy Inc., Clark Builders, Acklands Grainger, Shell Canada Limited, Western Economic Diversification Canada, Alberta Municipal Affairs (Canada-Alberta Affordable Housing Program), Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Alberta Lottery Fund, the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Housing Trust Fund. For a full list of organizations and individuals that contributed to the WBF Capital Campaign, please view our Annual Reports.
WBF has grown from a small, grassroots group who dreamed of getting women out of poverty to a visionary organization that has the capacity to do all that and more.