June 15, 2020

Spring 2020 Grants

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Spring 2020 grants from The Catherine Donnelly Foundation support 20 organizations offering innovative solutions in housing, the environment and adult education for social change.

The COVID-19 pandemic is demonstrating how marginalized communities are disproportionately vulnerable to health crises and economic shocks. This deeply challenging period has been especially difficult for those experiencing homelessness.

Outflow Ministry, which operates a men’s shelter and social enterprise programs in Saint John, NB, has seen their world turned upside-down. When public health rules were enacted in March, Outflow was forced to find a temporary building to house the shelter, erect plexiglass screens between socially-distanced beds and enact new health and safety rules. All within several weeks.

It was a massive undertaking for Executive Director Jayme Hall, and Outflow’s staff and volunteers, but one they met with determination and inventiveness. COVID-19 has demonstrated that Canada’s not-for-profit sector has flexible and effective solutions to assist communities, even under the most challenging of circumstances.

Understanding the resiliency and power of Canada’s caring not-for-profit sector is one reason The Catherine Donnelly Foundation is particularly pleased to announce Outflow Ministry and 19 other organizations will receive more than $600,000 to assist with their essential solutions for our most pressing problems.

Adult education, housing and environmental organizations from across Canada worked with the Foundation during the early stages of the pandemic to submit applications under difficult circumstances. We supported the process by individually connecting with those submitting applications, offering flexibility in how proposals were written and extending deadlines where necessary.

Outflow Ministry received funding to help develop a response to COVID-19 for those experiencing homelessness during and after the pandemic and to educate politicians, bureaucrats and the public in order to reduce regional barriers to housing. Promoting solutions that encourage systemic change is of urgent concern for the Foundation.

Grants also recognize those working to empower individuals to build more equitable communities. The Child Welfare League of Canada’s Learning Community on Reconciliation will assist organizations supporting families, children and youth to work creatively and respectfully with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, while Toronto and Vancouver’s Park People’s Sparking Change Learning Project will support community leaders within marginalized neighbourhoods through peer learning.

Additional funds in the area of adult education for social change are targeted to secure greater equity for women and to provide marginalized communities with the skills to participate in neighbourhood planning. Breast Cancer Action Quebec’s Workshops to Reduce Social Inequalities of Health empowers recent immigrants by creating skills to navigate the healthcare system, while Equity Planning Toolbox, a project of Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre, builds understanding and participation in the Toronto land use and development process.

We are particularly pleased that a number of the projects support innovative financial solutions to promote affordable housing projects. A grant to the Jubilee Fund in Winnipeg will assist in their work offering bridge financing to housing projects which can’t access traditional support, while a grant to The Circle Community Land Trust will help the team prepare for an innovative solution by assuming ownership of more than 700 homes currently owned by Toronto Community Housing.

Grants to groups helping the environment include assistance for Wellington Water Watcher’s People’s Water Tribunal, an event highlighting the impact in Central Ontario of extracting local water for bottled water, and support for Future Majority’s work to increase youth turnout during elections to encourage greater action on climate change, among other issues.

The Catherine Donnelly Foundation will open its fall grant round in June 2020, with a deadline for letters of interest in early August. 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.

Find a complete list of Spring 2020 grants below.

Adult Education

Action cancer du sein du Québec/Breast Cancer Action Quebec (Montréal, QC) • Workshops to Reduce Social Inequalities of health ($38,482)
Funding will support health-empowerment workshops delivered in French and English for newly-arrived adult learners. Participants identify the supports they need and with assistance, work with the community to bring about those changes.

Canadian Language Museum (Toronto, ON) • Sign Languages of Canada Travelling Exhibit Outreach Program ($7,000)
The Canadian Language Museum and members of Canada’s Deaf communities will create an interactive, traveling exhibition. Sign Languages of Canada will educate hearing visitors about the expressiveness and complexity of different sign languages and Deaf visitors will learn lesser-known aspects of their language’s history as well as develop cross-cultural awareness of other Deaf communities in Canada.

Child Welfare League of Canada (Ottawa, ON) • Learning Community on Reconciliation ($29,000)
Launched in May 2019, this learning community provides supports for organizations serving children, youth and families to strengthen their ability to work creatively and respectfully with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples as well as reflect on their practice and evaluate reconciliation initiatives, among other outcomes.

City for All Women Initiative (Ottawa, ON) • Making Voices Count ($34,000)
Making Voices Count connects Ottawa residents with city decision makers to create more equitable communities. The program builds capacity among urban, suburban and rural community organizations and resident leaders – particularly women – to encourage civic engagement that drives structural social change within marginalized communities.

Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre (Toronto, ON) • Equitable Planning Toolbox ($33,000)
The Equitable Planning Toolbox is a set of community-driven education tools designed to help marginalized communities take control over land-use decisions in their neighbourhoods. The goal is to promote equity, encourage democracy and deliver community benefit by helping residents understand and participate in planning and development in their neighbourhoods.

Nanaimo Foodshare Society (Nanaimo, BC) • Peer Connections ($33,517)
Funding for Nanaimo Foodshare Society will assist in developing, implementing and evaluating a peer mentorship program for low-income elders and elders with disabilities. Active elders, community stakeholders and supporting professionals will collaborate using an empowerment approach to address social isolation and healthy eating.

Park People (Toronto, ON) • Sparking Change Learning Project • $30,500
Sparking Change Learning Project is a peer-learning program designed to develop volunteer community leaders within marginalized neighbourhoods. Park People will provide new Canadians, women and members of underserved communities in Toronto and Vancouver with the support they need to lead programs in their local parks. The program offers workshops, bus tours, peer-learning connections and 30 community-led park events.

SEED Winnipeg (Winnipeg, MB) • Strengthening Indigenous Communities through Money Stories • $33,000
SEED and the Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre will translate Money Stories, a unique, intergenerational money-management training program grounded in an Indigenous worldview, into Cree, Oji-Cree and/or Ojibway and assist Indigenous facilitators to learn and teach the initiatives in their communities. Delivered with a strengths-based community economic-development approach,
the curriculum will enhance economic sovereignty and promote Indigenous language revitalization.

Sierra Club of British Columbia Foundation (Vancouver, BC) • Relational Organizing and Popular Education for Climate Justice in Immigrant Communities • $23,000
Using popular education processes within community networks and drawing from lived experience, this initiative will co-create a shared analysis of the climate crisis and generate community-based actions for climate justice among immigrant and refugee communities in the lower mainland of BC. Marginalized communities disproportionately experience climate-change impacts and so equitable and just climate solutions must embrace their voices and their leaders.

Southern Stl’atl’imx Health Society (Mount Currie, BC) sponsored by Capilano University • Sqwelsqwel’min Action Research Project • $28,456
This participatory research initiative will seek to answer the question ‘What do families need to support their children’s learning?’ Members of the Southern Stl’atl’imx First Nations will create a process to seek feedback from their communities, analyze results and recommend next steps to support children and youth.

The Existence Project (Victoria, BC) sponsored by Tides Canada Initiatives Society • Keeping it Human For Communities • $34,000
This second grant from the Foundation will expand their storyteller training process to a new constituent base comprised primarily of women with lived experience of homelessness and to collaboratively deliver a peer-led anti-stigma storytelling initiative across Victoria. The Existence Project works with participants to develop and deliver workshops that facilitate dialogue between marginalized people and community members – transforming shame and isolation into dignity and connection to community.


Circle Community Land Trust (Toronto, ON) sponsored by Wigwamen Incorporated • $36,000
Circle Community Land Trust was formed to preserve and invest in more than 700 homes currently owned by Toronto Community Housing, but at risk of being sold to private property developers. The Foundation grant will assist in preparing the Land Trust to assume ownership, bring homes to a state of good repair and keep them affordable for low-income tenants.

Outflow Ministry Inc. (Saint John, NB) • City of Refuge • $15,000
City of Refuge assists people living homeless in St. John, NB to find and continue to live in safe and affordable housing. The initiative facilitates this process by educating politicians and government officials about homelessness and proven strategies to reduce homelessness as well as assisting stakeholders in developing regional supports. Part of this work will involve developing and communicating a homeless-focused response to COVID-19 during the pandemic and in the following period of recovery.

Jubilee Fund Inc. (Winnipeg, MB) • Building Sustainability for Housing Projects • $30,000
Jubilee Fund is a Winnipeg lender of last resort who offers bridge financing to housing projects when when foundations, donors and financial institutions can’t or won’t. Funds are intended to leverage support from others. A grant from the Foundation will support the Fund in building sustainable partnerships with community organizations, banks and other Manitoba housing stakeholders to ensure suitable projects are aware of Jubilee’s work.

Yonge Street Mission (Toronto, ON) • Education CI Model Development • $30,000
Funding to this initiative will support efforts to identify and address barriers to education for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness and creating a new educational approach designed by those young people. The project will draw on the guidance of youth leaders with lived experience to develop curriculum with an emphasis on experiential learning principles that address the multiple areas of support needed by homeless youth.


Future Majority (Toronto, ON) • $50,000
Future Majority promotes political action on climate change and affordable housing, among other issues, by working in non-urban ridings where increased youth voter turnout has the potential to shift election results toward progressive candidates. Funding supports increased democratic participation among youth to improve representation and action on these critical issues.

eDemocracy Solutions (Vancouver, BC) • The Climate Budget Project • $40,000
Through climate communications they will engage people from all walks of life in playing a meaningful role in helping to shape climate policy and action plans at the local level, as well as increasing ecological literacy to support increased community-level grassroots involvement. The goal is to go beyond “the choir” and reach a broad cross-section of community members, to increase equity and create a path forward with the social license and community buy-in required to make large scale change a reality.

Canada Green Building Council (Ottawa, ON) • Low-Carbon Buildings Workforce Coalition • $25,000
The Low-Carbon Buildings Workforce Coalition will gather industry, government, education, and labour stakeholders to champion investment in a low-carbon building workforce in the Greater Toronto Area. The coalition will support training for diverse workers in green construction skills and advance new strategies and tools to encourage investment in low-carbon buildings. Supporting an inclusive and diverse workforce will contribute to a just transition.

GreenPAC (Toronto, ON) • Every Day Advocates • $25,000
GreenPAC is a national, nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to building environmental leadership in politics. The organization hopes to encourage environmental accountability between elected representatives and the voters in their communities by empowering citizens through public events. Funding will support public mobilization and engagement to push for action on climate change.

Wellington Water Watchers (Guelph, ON) sponsored by Small Change Fund • People’s Water Tribunal • $30,000
Based in Central Ontario, the Peoples’ Water Tribunal will convene a panel of experts to hear public testimony and deliver a decision on the question “Should Ontario issue permits to take water for bottling to Nestlé and other private corporations?” Funding supports education and engagement related to the protection of water as a public, non-commercial resource.