Schlegel family donates $6M to drive innovative research in healthy aging

WATERLOO (June 30, 2021) – The Schlegel family, long-standing residents of the Waterloo region and dedicated philanthropists, have made a $6M donation to the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) to support infrastructure that drives world-class research in healthy aging. 

The donation was made to the latest capital campaign that added critical capacity to the RIA’s home base at the Centre of Excellence for Innovation in Aging in Waterloo, Ontario.  With the addition of three floors, the RIA building includes nine state of the art research labs, classrooms and training spaces, a Living Classroom in partnership with Conestoga College, a medical clinic, adult day programs and a growing number of other community services.  With this infrastructure in place, the RIA can accelerate its work with the community to advance research that meets the pressing needs of aging Canadians.

“My family has a long history and passion for improving seniors care,” said Dr. Ron Schlegel, RIA founder and chair of the board. “We are happy to contribute to this initiative to make sure we have the best practices based on the best evidence to support us all as we get older. This expansion allows for more research, more collaboration with older adults and community members, and an increased ability to trial and share best practices across the country and globally.” 

The Centre of Excellence is a purpose-built hub for collaboration and supports a vibrant community that integrates senior living with research, education, and community services. It is located on the north campus of the University of Waterloo and home to over 300 older adults that reside in the neighbouring long-term care and retirement homes operated by Schlegel Villages. 

The 6 Million dollar cheque was presented by the Schlegel family to Josie d’Avernas, RIA’s executive director. The donation was made in recognition of her many contributions as she retires on June 30th. “Many of the RIA’s successes in driving research and innovation to enhance care and quality of life for older adults would not have been possible without Josie’s leadership,” said Schlegel.   

“I am thrilled to be accepting this donation to the RIA today from the Schlegel family,” said d’Avernas. “Now more than ever, we know that we must change the way we support our oldest citizens.  Research can and must drive innovation towards a world where every older adult, regardless of health, ability or living environment, thrives. This donation will help the RIA do that.”

“I am deeply honoured that this donation to the RIA was made in recognition of my work, but most importantly I thank the Schlegel family for their generous contribution and commitment to enhancing quality of life for older adults.”

The RIA building is the result of a $13M capital campaign over two phases of construction. Including today’s donation, the Schlegel family has contributed $9M toward that goal, $3.4M has been contributed by other generous donors, leaving $614,000 left to raise. To learn how to be a part of this exciting initiative, contact Gert Hartmann, Director of Community Partnerships and Business Development, at gert.hartmann@the-ria.ca.  

The Schlegel family (Ron, Barb and Rob Schlegel pictured on the left) presented the donation to Josie d’Avernas (pictured on the right) during a Facebook livestream. Highlights from the announcement event can be watched on our YouTube channel.