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Canterbury Park Volunteers

Canterbury Cares: How We Give Back to the Community

Charitable giving isn’t something Canterbury Park just does. It’s ingrained in our philosophy — the Canterbury Way.

“Part of Canterbury’s values are to be a good partner good partner within the community,” said Executive Administrative Manager Michele Dahl, who oversees Canterbury Park’s contributions to nonprofit organizations throughout the metro area.

Canterbury Park volunteers.
Canterbury Park volunteers.

Canterbury Park is a member of the Minnesota Keystone Program, a group of companies in the state that have committed to donating 2-5 percent of pre-tax earnings back to the community.

“It’s the Canterbury Way,” Dahl said. “We believe in being an active and generous member of our community. It is a core value of our company and culture.”

From the Special Olympics to area schools to organizations that support horses, Canterbury Park has a wide array of ways in which we works to help nonprofits in need.

Dahl said there are three primary ways the company provides donations: the Canterbury Park Minnesota Fund, in-kind donations and employee gift matching.

Learn About Canterbury Cares

In total, more than a quarter of a million dollars went back to area nonprofits in 2017.

Canterbury Park Minnesota Fund

This fund, established by Canterbury Park in 2003, provides dollars for organizations that benefit equine and agricultural causes, responsible gaming programs and our local community.

Since its inception, the Canterbury Park Minnesota Fund has provided nearly $1 million in grants to organizations throughout our state.

A committee evaluates the strength of the grant applications and awards funds annually based on merit, Dahl said. In 2017, the Canterbury Park Minnesota Fund provided more than $77,000 to nonprofit equine, responsible gaming and other organizations.

Previous recipients include the Saints Foundation, Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance and Bowman’s Second Chance Thoroughbred Adoption.


Canterbury Park volunteers.
Canterbury Park volunteers.

At Canterbury Park, volunteering is another way to give back to the community and support local organizations.

We are active members of the community, supporting groups such as Feed My Starving Children, Warm Hugs Veterans Project and the Community Action Partnership of Scott, Carver and Dakota Counties.

Canterbury Park also has a group fundraising program that recruits nonprofits and community groups to work for our organization on high-volume days to raise funds for their cause. It’s a great way for organizations to earn funds while getting a behind-the-scenes look at racing.

“It’s a pretty diverse group of nonprofits,” said Becky Cameron, Senior Human Resources Manager at Canterbury Park. “We get cheer squads from high schools, college groups, Rotary Clubs, community organizations. We have some amazing groups that enjoy coming out each summer to have fun with our staff and ultimately raise money for their causes.”

In 2017, Canterbury Park distributed nearly $35,000 to volunteers. More than 40 groups have participated over the years.

The volunteer work is not only a way for us to give back, but it’s an essential part of our business operations with supplemental staffing. The groups could be manning food stands, helping with guest services or facilities, and even marketing efforts on big giveaway days, Cameron said.

Also, Canterbury Park offers an end-of-year bonus opportunity for volunteers who meet certain thresholds with hours, obligations and performance.

“We try to work with each group to understand their fundraising goals and assist them in achieving them,” Cameron said.

Learn more about group fundraising.

In-Kind Donations

We receive numerous requests for in-kind donations throughout the year, Dahl said.

Often, Canterbury Park will contribute to schools, fundraising events, within the metro area, or other groups in an effort to support their own efforts to better the community.

Helping Horses and Jockeys

Horsemen were charged a $3 per race fee during the 2017 live racing season, and those dollars go into a fund to help retired racehorses, “which can have a huge impact,” Dahl said.

In 2017, the Leg Up Fund financially helped five injured jockeys with payments totaling just over $10,000.
In 2017, the Leg Up Fund financially helped five injured jockeys with payments totaling just over $10,000.

Canterbury Park matched those dollars for a total of $30,000 that went to Bowman’s Second Chance Thoroughbred Adoption. The nonprofit organization was founded by Dr. Richard Bowman in 1998 to give retired race horses a safe-haven, rehabilitation and a second chance at a new adoptive home.

Additionally, Canterbury Park and the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association established the Leg Up Fund to assist injured and disabled jockeys. Each year, our staff, horsemen and fans come together to raise money for a cause near and dear to Canterbury Park — the Leg Up Day. The event is set for Sunday, May 27 in 2018. In 2017, more than $60,000 was raised from the event, individual/business donations and contributions per ride.

In 2017, the Leg Up Fund financially helped five injured jockeys with payments totaling just over $10,000.

Each year, we also hold the Fillies Race for Hope, an event that raises money for the Hope Chest for Breast Cancer Foundation. As of 2017, the seventh year of the event, over $400,000 had been raised. The 2018 Fillies Race for Hope is set for Sunday, June 3.

Employee Gift Matching

One of the simplest ways that Canterbury Park helps organizations is by matching any employee donation to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization up to $250 on an annual basis.

Canterbury Cares

Whether it’s the Make a Wish Foundation, Boys and Girls Club or an area school, Canterbury Park is upholding the Canterbury Way standard to do its part to ensure our community is strong and vibrant.

“It’s vital for us to do what we can to be a steward of the community,” Dahl said. “We have a long tradition of charitable giving, and we’re committed to continuing that legacy into the future.”