Adult Education, Civic Engagement for Social Change, Housing, News

June 10, 2024

Catherine Donnelly Foundation Spring 2024 Housing and Civic Engagement for Social Change grants support 18 organizations with $500,000 in funding

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June 2024

Spring 2024 grants from the Catherine Donnelly Foundation support transformative solutions that promote civic engagement to empower youth, migrant workers, Black, Indigenous and racialized women and encourage new models to preserve affordable housing, support the rights of renters and ensure more co-op and non-profit and accessible housing is built.

“We are excited to partner with organizations who are solving Canada’s most urgent problems in ways that embrace diverse communities and residents,” says Claire Barcik, Executive Director of the Catherine Donnelly Foundation. “We’re trying to do our part by listening, sharing resources, deepening relationships and simplifying processes to empower our partners in their bold and innovative work.”

Civic Engagement for Social Change granted $228,146 to nine organizations dedicated to creating collaborative hubs for social change in New Brunswick, boosting youth voter turnout in British Columbia and supporting advocacy and wellness for Black women in Ontario.

In Yellowknife, the Northern Birthwork Collective is training Northern and Indigenous birthworkers to provide services to Indigenous peoples and families, while in Montréal, Missions Exeko is offering workshops for youth from racialized and immigrant families to develop decision-making skills, increase involvement in community and civic life and hone entrepreneurial talents.

In Housing, nine new grants totalling $270,000 are supporting increased capacity for non-profit Indigenous housing and service providers in British Columbia, ensuring youth experiencing homelessness in Ontario transition to secure, safe and stable housing, and exploring community land trusts as a pathway to farmland for young farmers in Saskatchewan.

Disability Alliance BC’s Right Fit Program in Vancouver is improving supply, accessibility and inclusivity in affordable housing options for people living with disabilities, while the Canadian Centre for Housing Rights is assessing the impact of rent regulations on affordability-related housing loss in Alberta and Ontario to push for sector reforms.

The Foundation is particularly pleased that these grants reflect our commitment to deeper and longer-standing relationships with organizations and communities. Nearly 40% of those funded in this latest round had previously received a grant from CDF. Vancouver’s EcoTrust received their sixth program grant in a relationship that dates to 2006. In our next granting round CDF will formalize that history of long-term support for organizations by providing more intentional multi-year grants and capacity-strengthening supports.

 This fall, CDF begins a purposeful shift toward more multi-year grants and supports for our partners when we offer some 2-year project grants in all of our streams and begin phasing-in 3–5-year grants for longer-term partners.

Anne Mark, Director of Programs at the Catherine Donnelly Foundation, notes “This change represents a strengthening of a trust-based approach in our work and is the first of a series of operational efforts to become more accessible, transparent and equitable in our granting.

Find a complete list of Spring 2024 grants below.

The Catherine Donnelly Foundation is now accepting letters of interest for our 2024 Fall grants. Organizations are invited to apply for the Civic Engagement, Environment and Housing streams by July 12, 2024.  For granting guidelines, visit

We are committed to reducing barriers to grant applications and willingly work with organizations to accept proposals if issues arise.

For more information contact Steve Brearton, Communications and Policy Officer, ay

Civic Engagement for Social Change

Afrique au Féminin • Parents Agents Multipliers 3.0 • Montréal, QC • $25,000

The Parents Agents Multipliers (PAM) project engages and empowers newly arrived women in Montreal’s Parc-Extension neighbourhood by reducing isolation, connecting them with a peer network and developing leadership skills to address local needs, such as childcare or access to services. The nine-month adult education and mutual-aid program supports a group of 10 to 20 immigrant women from diverse backgrounds. This is the third grant to the PAM program, whose community-based approach builds bridges between coexisting cultures.

Black Women’s Institute for Health • Empowering Voices: Advocacy and Wellness for Black WomenToronto, ON • $30,000

The Black Women’s Institute for Health advocates for the health and survival of Black women and focuses on social determinants of health. This holistic health advocacy program for Black women features educational workshops on health rights, a peer/Sistering mentorship initiative and the development of a Black women’s health crisis line. All work is supported by partnerships with health professionals and organizations. Empowering Voices is an urgent response to the overlooked healthcare crisis facing this demographic whose barriers often result in inferior health outcomes.

Centre for Migrant Workers Rights Nova Scotia (Halifax Refugee Clinic) • Annapolis Valley Migrant Solidarity Network • Halifax, NS • $20,000

The Centre for Migrant Worker Rights Nova Scotia is a community-based organization which advocates for equal rights for migrant workers in Nova Scotia and provides direct supports, outreach, education, and advocacy to advance justice. The Annapolis Valley Migrant Solidarity Network aims to create technical tools to support volunteers to engage in mutual aid and solidarity with migrant workers, deepen outreach activities and offer workshops aimed at fostering solidarity and relationships between migrant workers and Nova Scotians.

John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights • Strengthening Facilitation for Human Rights • Edmonton, AB • $22,000

Funding will assist John Humphrey Centre’s Human Rights Facilitator Program to address post-pandemic human rights issues and support under-resourced groups including those experiencing homelessness, First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples as well as racialized and low-income communities. The program will be offered at no-cost and provide mentorship and guidance to participants who lead their community-based human rights learning and dialogue spaces. JHC has been running the Human Rights Facilitator Training program since 2006 to embed a culture of human rights and peace building in Edmonton.

Missions Exeko • idAction CARI et L’Hirondelle • Montréal, QC • $20,000

Exeko has offered its cultural and intellectual mediation programs in the Montréal boroughs of Plateau Mont-Royal and Ville St-Laurent since 2016 and this new initiative supports two idAction workshops for young people from immigrant families. Research suggests that racialized and recent immigrants to Quebec experience more social integration issues than non-immigrants, a weaker sense of belonging and greater isolation. Collaborating with partners CARI St-Laurent and L’Hirondelle, these mediation workshops are aimed at developing decision-making skills, increasing involvement in community and civic life and honing entrepreneurial talents.

New Majority • Youth Voter Turnout and Field Director Leadership Development • Toronto, ON • $25,000

New Majority is a non-partisan organization focused on increasing civic engagement, particularly among underrepresented young people, by mobilizing democratic participation. Their goal is to increase voter turnout among those aged 18-44 by 5% in the 2025 federal election. Up to five newly hired regional field directors will work to achieve that aim by supporting get-out-the-vote efforts in upcoming provincial elections and encouraging community mobilization in the lead-up to the next federal election. New Majority also addresses a lack of diversity in Canadian political organizing through its hiring and outreach practices.

Northern Birthwork Collective (Makeway Charitable Society) • Northern Indigenous Birthwork ProjectYellowknife, NWT • $31,646

The Northern Birthwork Collective is developing a Northern Indigenous Birthwork Project to train northern and Indigenous birthworkers to provide services to Indigenous peoples and families in the Northwest Territories. In Northern communities, there is a lack of services for pregnancy, labour, birth and postpartum care that is grounded in Indigenous values, practices and traditions. This second grant to Northern Birthwork Collective will grow teaching tools and project materials, expand existing programming to new regions and seek greater regional representation for their Knowledge Keepers/Elders Advisory Committee.

The Sackville Commons Co-operative • Co-operative Community Hub and Collaborative Network for Social Change • Sackville, NB • $25,000

A community hub focused on sustainability, resource sharing, and arts and culture, The Sackville Commons Co-operative seeks to secure and expand grassroots community resources and infrastructure developed during the COVID pandemic. Funding will support the development of a collaborative network of community groups to share resources, networks, and trainings, including creating a website and newsletter, encouraging development initiatives, weekly youth and queer drop-ins as well as launching leadership training programs.

Women Transforming Cities • Cities Organize – Empowering BIPOC Women Community Change Leaders • Vancouver, BC • $29,500

Cities Organize is a six-week adult education program for Indigenous and racialized women across Canada to learn civic skills, community organizing, and how to take collective action on equity issues. Community organizing around equity-based issues is most effective when led by and for the people most impacted, yet those who are most under-represented are often least empowered to take on grassroots organizing to make change. This program builds the skills and confidence of Indigenous and racialized women who want to become change leaders through active citizenship. The virtual workshop series will cover material ranging from how to bring personal experiences to community work and how to care for yourself as an organizer.


Aboriginal Housing Management Association • The Resilient Indigenous Affordable Housing Capacity project • Vancouver, BC • $35,000

Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA) is an Indigenous-led non-profit committed to addressing the diverse housing needs of urban Indigenous communities in British Columbia. AHMA employs a comprehensive systems-based approach, forging partnerships to develop holistic solutions while advocating for equitable housing policies. The Resilient Indigenous Affordable Housing Capacity project aims to preserve existing building stock by fortifying networks among non-profit housing groups, unlocking essential funding for Indigenous housing projects, and fostering the development of data-driven retrofit projects across BC. The project also hopes to elevate AHMA’s capacity in project management and technical support, building condition assessments, and the sharing of information on asset management. CDF funding will help create new Project Manager and Project Coordinator positions.

Canadian Centre for Housing Rights • Secure Homes for Renters • Toronto, ON • $30,000

Renters across Canada are losing their homes because they cannot afford the rising cost of rental housing, which is made possible by weak rent regulations across the country. Secure Homes for Renters will undertake a research project to assess the impact of rent regulations on affordability-related housing loss in Alberta and Ontario and use that information to design a campaign highlighting the regulatory landscape and push for sector reforms.

Disability Alliance BC • Contributing to lasting policy change through demonstrating the impact of accessible housing in BC • Vancouver, BC • $40,000

Disability Alliance BC’s Right Fit Program (RFP) in Metro Vancouver is the only program in Canada that directly matches wheelchair users to accessible, affordable, permanent housing complemented with independent living supports. This initiative will allow the RFP to conduct an impact survey of more than 140 clients to gather information to build awareness of housing issues faced by individuals with disabilities and use that information to advocate for improved supply, accessibility and inclusivity in affordable housing options for people living with disabilities.

Ecotrust Canada • Indigenous Housing & Homelands Toolkit • Vancouver, BC • $25,000

In fall 2022, CDF provided funding to Ecotrust to develop a toolkit to support First Nations in developing sustainable, culturally appropriate housing, particularly within the context of declared Aboriginal title lands and modern treaty lands in British Columbia. This second grant will make the Indigenous Housing & Homelands Toolkit more accessible to various demographics by developing complimentary infographics, workbooks with exercises and templates as well as in-person workshops designed and delivered for community leaders, community members and senior high school classes.

Freshwinds Eco-village Housing Co-op (Rising Tide Community Initiatives Inc.) • Freshwinds Phase 1 • Moncton, NB • $40,000

Freshwinds is a not-for-profit housing co-operative formed in the Tantramar area of New Brunswick in February 2023. Freshwinds secured capital to purchase land in Sackville and is proposing to develop a co-operative eco-village of over 100 units of housing that will be inclusive of underserved populations while having a mixture of affordable and market-rent units. The co-op will be developed in phases. Funding for Phase 1 will assist in developing a robust governance framework, effective marketing and communication tools and strategies, recruiting members to the co-op, and ensuring sufficient organizational capacity to manage its housing development and properly manage housing after construction.

National Farmers Foundation • Exploring Community Land Trusts for affordable housing and farmland access in rural communities • Saskatoon, SK • $20,000

Exploring Community Land Trusts addresses two pressing concerns for new and young farmers: how to access farmland and how to secure affordable, suitable, and safe housing that nurtures a sense of community. This initiative will explore the role of Community Land Trusts (CLTs) as a model for addressing these needs in rural communities. Strategic priorities include mobilizing public engagement, meeting municipal leaders to raise awareness of programs and policies that support CLT development, facilitating conversations with aligned non-profit housing groups and farming/food organizations and supporting coalition-building and strategic outreach.

StepStones for Youth • Building Connections – Homelessness Prevention Program • Toronto, ON • $20,000

Young people who are or have been involved in foster care face complex problems and experience high rates of homelessness and poverty. The key objectives of Building Connections are to help youth secure and maintain safe and stable housing and to reduce poverty, homelessness, and dependency on social systems for underserved young people. Diverse and inclusive wraparound supports include one-on-one assistance navigating housing systems and services, facilitating long-term, community-embedded housing solutions with extended family and community allies, and providing housing grants directly to landlords. Building Connections intends to increase participant’s stability, well-being, and connectedness.

The WoodGreen Foundation • Income Transition Project Phase III (Social Assistance to Employment) • Toronto, ON • $20,000

The Income Transition Project (ITP) is an innovative model that educates and enables Ontario Works government assistance recipients to better understand the financial process of transitioning from social assistance to employment. WoodGreen has completed two pilot research phases with over 100 clients in which they demonstrated the efficacy of the model and engaged and built capacity, through training, amongst a community of Ontario Employment Service Agencies and OW Case Workers. The funding requested supports the implementation of ITP Phase III which includes longer-term piloting, increased collaboration with employment services and creating an online version for greater scalability.

Vivre en Ville • Open Doors: mobilizing for systemic solutions to the housing crisisQuébec, QC • $40,000

Vivre en Ville is a Québec City-based organization that stimulates innovation and supports decision makers, professionals and citizens to develop sustainable and healthy communities throughout Québec. Funding will support an education and advocacy plan based on Portes Ouvertes, their 2022 position paper that advocated for greater productivity in the housing sector, building more units and creating a real estate market without speculation to end the affordability crisis. The Open Doors project aims to advance public housing policies, educate and mobilize for sustainable solutions to the affordability crisis and strengthen partnerships and collective strategies of civil society.