January 26, 2021

Fall 2020 Grants

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Fall 2020 grants from the Catherine Donnelly Foundation support 30 organizations offering innovative solutions in housing, the environment and adult education for social change.

2020 has been an extraordinary year. The pandemic has had an outsized impact on both marginalized communities and the agencies and nonprofits that work to support them. Amidst the crisis, however, there are signs that the inequities highlighted by the Coronavirus and global movements have awakened an insatiable desire for change.

Movements seeking true equity, such as Black Lives Matter, have gained mass recognition, while holistic and loving solutions to global human impacts, such as those voiced by Indigenous land and water stewards, are taking root.

In funding 30 organizations that work in the areas of housing, the environment and adult education for social change, the Catherine Donnelly Foundation has granted $618,072 to innovators that chose hope over despair and are boldly working to create a more equitable and just society.

The Black Leadership Institute on Social Action for Change, a project of Skills for Change, is among the Adult Education grantees. The Toronto-area Leadership Institute provides participants with the skills to address barriers faced by Black people and improve local lives. In Yellowknife, NT, Dene Nahjo’s on-the-land Hide Tanning Mentorship will advance social and environmental justice for northern peoples while promoting youth leadership along with Indigenous values, climate action and modern land claims.

Grants in our Environment stream aim to build up industries that generate green jobs and support resilient place-based, wellbeing economies that protect human rights and equitable wealth distribution, but also ensure those positive initiatives include communities and voices traditionally excluded from the work of building a new, low-carbon economy, including racialized, low income and Indigenous Peoples.

The Catherine Donnelly Foundation prioritizes work with First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities to enhance their capacity and share their worldview of an interconnected relationship with nature as a foundation for building a sustainable future.

Among the organizations funded who work toward a clean and just recovery are Green Jobs Oshawa in partnership with CSJ Foundation for Research and Education, who link economic restructuring, the environment and jobs by converting closed manufacturing facilities to socially useful production, and Dogwood and the Institute for New Economics, whose Local Power campaign is building community-driven, clean electricity solutions in B.C. by working with First Nations, among other efforts.

Funding for Indigenous Clean Energy’s Bringing It Home project, meanwhile, recognizes an inseparable bond between nature, justice for the marginalized, a commitment to society and reconciliation with Inuit, First Nations and Métis people.

Helping create sustainable and affordable housing solutions for all Canadian residents and addressing the systemic causes of a lack of housing access is an important theme among Housing grants.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Political Economy of Rent initiative will support tenants across Canada to mobilize for more affordable and more secure shelter by examining the root causes of the current housing crisis. Investors for Affordable Cities, a project of the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) in partnership with Columbia Institute, will address systemic imbalance in the financial system by encouraging institutional investors to implement responsible real estate strategies that support accessible and inclusive communities

Taken together, the work of these organizations is a reminder that the status quo is being disrupted and that today, we have an opportunity to build the future we need by being imaginative, collaborative, and just.

Find the complete list of Fall 2020 grants below.

The Catherine Donnelly Foundation opened its Spring grant round at the end of December 2020, with a deadline for letters of interest of February 10, 2021. Organizations are invited to apply for the Adult Education stream. The Environment and Housing streams will be closed for unsolicited applications. For granting guidelines please visit We are committed to reducing barriers to grant applications and willingly work with organizations to accept proposals if issues arise.

Adult Education

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind • Sight Loss Advocacy in BC • Toronto, ON ($20,000) The CNIB will develop and deliver group training sessions on advocacy and human rights for members of the sight loss community in British Columbia. This project will use a train-the-trainer model to support, connect, empower and amplify voices to inform new accessibility legislation in British Columbia.

The Centre for Civic Religious Literacy in partnership with Islamic Family & Social Services Association • Religious, spiritual, and non-religious understanding in rural Canada: A pilot project to promote social and economic well-being through religious literacy • Edmonton, AB ($20,000) This multi-year project aims to improve the social and economic well-being of the rural communities in Alberta and Temiskaming Shores, Ontario by applying religious and spiritual literacy and practices to support identities and reduce tensions. Learned lessons will be explored, adapted and applied in other communities.

Dene Nahjo (A Project on MakeWay’s Shared Platform) • Hide Tanning Mentorship – DehCho Delivery 2021 • Yellowknife, NWT ($25,000) An on-the-land program for Indigenous peoples will teach traditional Dene hide tanning techniques as well as instruction on how to manage a bush camp. Facilitated discussions will focus on decolonization, Indigenous resurgence, Indigenous leadership values, climate action and modern land claims.

Hives for Humanity Society  in partnership with PHS Community Services Society • Empowering Leadership through the Culture of the Hive • Vancouver, BC ($4,000) This workshop series focuses on public speaking and group facilitation to build pathways to governance and leadership through an inclusive, creative culture of connection built around gardens and bee hives. Participants will identify social inequalities they experience and develop collective actions to share their voices with allies for social justice.

John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights • Stride Forward: Restorative Justice and Community-Based Advocacy • Edmonton, AB ($20,000) Stride Forward will strengthen the Stride Advocacy Network by hosting meetings and workshops to build individual understanding of Indigenous-based/trauma-informed restorative justice practices. Workshops will build skills to use these practices in advocacy work with victims and offenders.

Ka Ni Kanichihk Inc.• Heart Medicine Lodge • Winnipeg, MB ($30,000)  Resources will enable the Heart Medicine Lodge adult education program to adapt programming to pandemic conditions. Embedded in the project are Indigenous cultural practices which define self and create pathways for reconciliation and facilitate the breakdown of systemic barriers.

MABELLEarts • The Mabelle Avenue Project (MAP) • Toronto, ON ($20,000) MAP is a community-led, social and economic development program that seeks to revitalize existing communal spaces that are currently inaccessible to residents. Funding supports adult education, training and job development for community leaders.

Multifaith Housing Initiative • Drawing Water: Divining our Power through Creative Writing • Ottawa, ON ($17,500) This project seeks to advance the leadership of racialized and immigrant/refugee women and build cross-cultural-racial, interfaith allyship through creative writing. Participants will explore the impact of colonization and racial injustice, along with other forms of marginalization.

Skills for Change • Black Leadership Institute on Social Action for Change (SAC) • Toronto, ON ($20,000) The SAC initiative gathers members of the Toronto region’s Black community for leadership development. Participants will gain transferable skills to drive local change related to the intersectional barriers faced by Black people.

VIDEA • Oskinîkiwak Askîy: Future World • Victoria, BC ($24,900) The Oskinîkiwak Askîy: Future World project will choose five Indigenous female, male and 2-Spirited youth leaders from communities from across Canada to create a media campaign highlighting Indigenous-led initiatives and teachings on the intersecting themes of environmental sustainability and gender equality.


Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (Ontario) • The Political Economy of Rent • Toronto, ON ($20,380) This project aims to support tenants across Canada to mobilize for more affordable and more secure housing by examining the root causes of the current housing crisis. A demographic portrait of Canada’s tenants and research on collective action by tenants will be included.

Logifem Inc. • Achieving sustainable housing for women and families leaving sheltered living by shifting to a systems approach • Montreal, QC ($29,410) Montreal-based organizations supporting women who experience housing instability, aim to shift from an emergency-only response model to a sustainable systems housing approach. The network will create, implement and evaluate housing supports and strengthen organizations working with women and children.

Partners for Youth Inc. • Mentoring for Mental Health and Wellness • Fredericton, NB ($12,500) This initiative addresses the service gap related to ongoing mentorship and support for youth who seek mental health treatment. This community-based initiative will support the mental heath of youth and recruit, train and assist volunteer mentors to provide education and employment supports.

Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) in partnership with Columbia Institute • Investors for Affordable Cities • Vancouver, BC ($25,000) This project will mobilize actors in the financial system to address practices that are driving housing unaffordability. The initiative will encourage institutional investors to implement responsible real estate strategies and enlist policy makers to stop predatory behavior and promote housing investment that support inclusive communities.

Siloam Mission • Exit Up! • Winnipeg, MB ($20,000) The Exit Up! program provides opportunities for Indigenous young adults who have left the care of Child and Family Services to develop skills for living interdependently. The program provides culturally safe and relevant opportunities to help participants achieve their goals.

Woman Abuse Council of Toronto (WomanACT) • Safe at Home • Toronto, ON ($24,772)  Violence is a leading cause of homelessness among women and a lack of access to safe and affordable housing is a key barrier for women fleeing violence. This project will develop policies and practices to support women to remain in their own home or find independent accommodation when leaving a violent relationship. Knowledge will be shared with policy makers, community agencies and funders.


Clean Energy Canada in partnership with Simon Fraser University • Amplifying the hopeful clean energy story in Canada • Vancouver, BC ($15,000)  This project will amplify good-news stories about clean energy in Canada through polling, editorial board meetings and ongoing strategic media briefs, with a focus on profiling jobs, economic impacts, examples of change and success stories about renewable energy in Canada’s Indigenous communities.

Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat (CAN-Rac) Canada and Foundation for Environmental Stewardship (FES) • Supporting a Just Recovery for all Canadians • Toronto, ON ($25,000) Funding will help gather a spectrum of Canadian civil society groups interested in creating and implementing policy and programming for a clean and Just Recovery. The program will also support the development of transition strategies and campaigns covering a variety of investments and activities.

Community Forests International • Common Ground: Engagement Organizing for New Forest Relationships • Sackville, NB ($20,000)  The project will mobilize citizen climate action in the Maritime region by amplifying common ground in land relationships among settlers and First Nations and by providing access to the emerging conservation economy. CFI will communicate shared knowledge and storytelling.

Dogwood in partnership with Institute for New Economics • Local Power • Victoria, BC ($30,000)  The Local Power campaign will remove obstacles to community-driven clean electricity in B.C. by surveying green recovery projects, partnering with First Nations to highlight Indigenous renewable power projects and helping draft clean energy legislation in the province.

For Our Kids •  Building a Parent Climate Movement •  Duncan, BC ($40,000) For Our Kids is a network of parents/guardians and grandparents in Canada fighting for a green, equitable, and just world for our kids and grandkids. This grant will support efforts to expand the network across Canada and assist local advocacy.

Global Catholic Climate Movement – Canada a project of Faith & the Common Good • Ecological Catholic Impact Investment Initiative • Toronto, ON ($25,000) This project aims to facilitate the migration of Catholic-held capital (in pension fund, endowments and other investment vehicles) to alternatives that will build a more sustainable and just world. Activities include developing ecological investment alternatives for faith communities.

Green Jobs Oshawa in partnership with CSJ Foundation for Research and Education • Environmental Conversion • Oshawa, ON ($25,000)  This project for environmentally conscious conversion of manufacturing will work to build a popular base for converting closed facilities to socially useful production, encourage worker and community engagement and advocate for links between economic restructuring, the environment and jobs with dignity.

Indigenous Clean Energy • Bringing It Home • Ottawa, ON ($20,000) Bringing It Home is a national initiative that will develop tools and resources, national financing solutions, and hands-on training to support Indigenous communities to implement energy efficiency projects.

Iron and Earth in partnership with Institute for New Economics • The Prosperous Transition Campaign: Fossil Fuel Industry Workers Calling for a Green Recovery • Victoria, BC ($20,000) The campaign will generate worker support for prosperous transition principles and green stimulus initiatives, amplify worker-supported priorities and organize to win workers’ policy priorities.

 The Share Reuse Repair Initiative (a Project of MakeWay Charitable Society) • Catalyzing a Just and Green Recovery through Sharing, Reuse and Repair • Vancouver, BC ($25,000) This project will engage members of marginalized communities to chronicle how circular economy practices like sharing, reuse and repair show up in their lives, build shared understanding of a Just Recovery and-create a Strategy Brief that uses their voices and stories to advocate for change.

West Kootenay EcoSociety • Just Transition in Heavy Industry-Based Rural Towns • Nelson, BC ($25,000) This project will connect with rural audiences in heavy-industry communities to build support for a just clean energy transition by undertaking ‘deep canvassing’, amplifying positive rural solutions and building support among workers and politicians to transition industry to low-carbon energy solutions.

World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada) New Economy in Renewable Energy: Gjoa Haven Energy Coop Toronto, ON ($15,000) Funding will support the creation of the Gjoa Haven Energy Coop by finalizing the legal and financial structure and building a business case for the new venture. Gjoa Haven will enable energy efficiency and renewable energy projects to increase employment, energy security and Inuit ownership in Nunavut.