Adult Education Advancement Initiatives

The Foundation will consider applications from groups and organizations that use adult education processes that promote justice and equity for New Canadians, especially refugees and migrant workers, Indigenous peoples and other marginalized or excluded populations.

Adult Education & Learning Values & Objectives

The Catherine Donnelly Foundation takes a proactive approach to adult education, viewing it as an important tool to address the most pressing social, environmental, cultural and community development problems and concerns today. We are committed to supporting projects that promote active citizenship, democracy, personal and social transformation by fostering the development of critical consciousness and skills required to promote a more just, equitable and sustainable society in Canada.

The Foundation will support projects that use adult education processes to:

  • Facilitate poor and marginalized people to collectively name the racism, poverty, violence or other forms of exclusion and oppression they experience.
  • Engage marginalized groups, and allies, in developing: critical analysis of the social, political and/or economic roots of problems they experience; recognizing and building on their group’s strengths; and developing strategies to achieve change.
  • Develop leadership, communication and organizational skills that allow marginalized people and allies to initiate and accomplish action for change.
  • Involve groups in participatory research to develop action strategies.

We look for participatory adult education processes in which:

  • Everyone teaches, everyone learns;
  • Starts with the experience of the group that will be engaged in the program;
  • Involves a high level of participation and critical dialogue;
  • Involves reflection & action (praxis);
  • Leads to action for change – from new knowledge, attitudes, skills.

The Catherine Donnelly Foundation builds on the adult education traditions of Fr. Moses Coady (, Paulo Freire (, and Myles Horton (

The Foundation supports the significant role that faith can have in motivating and sustaining social action for change. As a result, it will also consider projects that draw upon religious and spiritual traditions in support of adult education for social change such as work for peace, human rights, equity and social justice. Such projects could take place within a specific faith community, multi-faith or secular context.

Please note that the Catherine Donnelly Foundation does NOT fund:

  • Children and youth literacy/educational programs

The Foundation also does NOT fund projects that solely focus on:

  • Basic numeracy, reading and writing skills
  • Group or individual counseling
  • Job skills training or vocational training (including on the job learning)
  • Conferences and/or symposiums

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