CUPS and PowHERhouse Impact Media Group partner for impact.

For over 30 years, CUPS has walked beside Calgarians to build lifelong resilience as they take positive steps towards emerging from poverty, overcoming the weight of trauma, and managing the challenges of homelessness.

Grounded in evidence-based research and guided by the voice of community, CUPS bravely explores an ever-expanding journey of continuous improvement to define a new approach to the social challenges that plague most communities.

What began as a grassroots collective responding to a community need with a specific service offering has evolved to become a completely transformed professional entity and a self-sufficient organization that offers wraparound supports, the Roots of Rising Possibility.

July 2021 marks the 25-year anniversary of CUPS Executive Director, Carlene Donnelly’s time with the organization and a timely opportunity to story tell the quarter-century journey of collaborative learning and unlearning necessary to lead transformational change-making and showcase a change work model developed by CUPS that transcends socioeconomic conditions and can be used in any community - in any country - with high levels of adversity in all forms.

Roots of Rising Possibility is an integrated impact media campaign championed by CUPS in partnership with PowHERhouse Impact Media Group. Through this innovative partnership, we will amplify and celebrate:

The 25-year journey and recognize long-term investment and commitment of key stakeholders

A narrative package to activate the replicable model for change ready to be shared with others

Hopeful solutions for policymakers and stakeholders backed by brain science to raise possibility


Carlene Donnelly, Executive Director

"When we know better, we must do better.

Although I might be the CEO, it really has been the whole team. One of the things I'm most proud of is the intent behind the journey - to try and do better by those who come through our doors by really getting to the root of the problem and provide longer-term empowerment and appreciation - strengthening of the gifts that folks who come in our doors already have. Less reliance on us with a goal of empowering people. That was the intent. We wanted to have them walk with us and then move forward on their own.

It's been really exciting, innovative work!"

Carlene Donnelly

Since 2003, Carlene has led CUPS through significant change and growth, participated in high-profile research and advocacy projects, and has shared her learnings with audiences around the globe. She believes in a science-informed approach to improving outcomes for children and families and passionately advocates for organizations to adopt a business framework and apply current brain science to achieve a larger impact.

Under her leadership, CUPS has evolved from a traditional charity to a trailblazing, science-based social agency, capable of improving outcomes for Calgarians for generations to come.

In her 25 years as Executive Director, Carlene’s innovative approach using the practical application of business to increase the impact of the organization has yielded many significant advances. Some of her achievements include growing the budget from $650,000 to $17 million, executing a successful $20 million capital campaign to accommodate this growth, securing contracts with provincial health systems to ensure comprehensive primary and specialist care for all CUPS, and expanding child development program to a two-generational model – aligned with current science – to ensure entire families are set up for long-term success.


Because of her focus on reporting, CUPS began to develop program plans tied to demonstratable outcomes and put a data infrastructure in place that positioned CUPS to speak credibly about impact.

CUPS has become an example to policymakers and community changemakers of what’s possible in building stronger communities with cross-disciplinary and cross-ministerial thinking founded in current science that addresses root causes. This is cause for celebration!

"The ultimate goal of this Impact Media partnership with CUPS is to ensure that the 25-year lived impact as a change-making organization continues to expand its roots widely, supporting people across Calgary and deep into Alberta's support infrastructure. Carlene and all of the members of the team at CUPS are social impactors modeling what is possible when we refuse to accept social norms and instead press compassionately into all that is possible. At PowHERhouse, we are excited to learn and grow from our experience with CUPS as we walk beside, listen, and capture their stories to celebrate, amplify, and activate their impact to its fullest potential."

~ Charlene SanJenko, Indigenous Impact Producer and Founder, PowHERhouse Impact Media Group

Roots of Rising Possibility kicks off this summer. Further details will be released in September 2021.



ROOTSDeep values, brave truths

RINGS Collaborative partnerships

RISK Growth mindset and learning culture

RISING POSSIBILITY Intended impact of research, practice, and policy