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    A remarkable donation to Hamilton Community Foundation will help ensure local cats will be healthy, safe and wanted – forever. The Foundation will give an annual grant of over $65,000 in perpetuity to the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA to fund feline health and well-being, thanks to the donation of an estate from lifelong pet lover and long-time…

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    Program builds real-world work experience Michael Young always wanted to work as a security guard. Good Shepherd’s MarketPlace work experience program helped him get there. The MarketPlace is part of Good Shepherd’s Venture Centre, a massive repurposed car dealership in downtown Hamilton that opened as the organization’s clothing and emergency food program in 2015 and…

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    Canadian ICT workers are in short supply Ten Grade 6, 7 and 8 students are spending their nutrition break learning how to make a video game—and at the same time learning they could have a bright future in technology.  The club at Viscount Montgomery Elementary School is one of 17 currently offered to middle school-aged students…

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    When your child is in the hospital, the last thing you want to hear is you’ve lost your job because you’ve spent too much time away from work. Thanks to the medical-legal partnership started by Pro Bono Ontario (PBO) at McMaster Children’s Hospital, low-income families can get much-needed legal support when faced with such difficult…

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    “When women give today, one thing they want to know about is the impact they are having,” says Renate Davidson. Renate is a long-term, respected volunteer with HCF and many other organizations across Hamilton. As a founding donor to HCF’s Women 4 Change (W4C) initiative, she is struck by how women’s philanthropy “has evolved to…

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    The art of spoken word is an ancient tradition that continues today through Hamilton Youth Poets. Created in 2012, “HYP” provides a platform for new young voices to muse on their city through poetry, journalism and hip-hop. “HYP gives Hamilton’s youth have an opportunity to develop their creative skills and have their voices heard,” says…

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    The Riverdale Salad Bowl is a community solution to provide access to fresh produce and improve food security. We were proud to support the community garden in this great east Hamilton neighbourhood.

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    A grant from HCF is helping to put more girls on the playing field by providing sport hijabs to 20 local schools.  For Muslim girls, taking part in athletics can be challenging when wearing a traditional hijab due to the fear that it could fall off, or that the fastening pin could injure a player. …

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    New “one-stop” kiosks are bridging the digital divide and making information more accessible to older adults. Responding to a community need, The Dundas InfoSpot for 55+ is a web-based computer application, curating information about programs and services in an age-friendly format.  Led by the Hamilton Council on Aging, and supported by HCF, InfoSpot draws listings…

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    Community starts early in the McQuesten neighbourhood, and that includes cultivating its young urban farmers through Sprouts Camp. Throughout the summer,  kids from this east Hamilton community attended the camp, focused around the neighbourhood’s urban farm.   Camp days always included a long visit to the garden, a bounty harvest and a lesson or two about gardening…

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    Putting more foundation assets to work in the community is the goal of HCF’s Hamilton Community Investment Fund (HCIF). The fund’s latest loan is a great example. Early in 2015, HCIF provided mortgage financing to Indwell to build 47 supportive housing units on Main Street East just east of Kenilworth – on a former used…

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    A banner in the McQuesten neighbourhood meeting room is covered in brightly coloured drawings of veggies and fruit. There’s a market stand. Greenhouses. People. And even a cow. Bold statements like “food oasis,” “80% production,” “school trips” and “from observer to farmer” punctuate the pictures. This is the neighbourhood’s vision for the McQuesten urban farm—a…

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    The high school prom is a cherished tradition. It’s a celebratory experience where students say farewell to high school and hello to the next phase of life. But prom has not always been a welcoming, positive experience for every student. In the past, many Hamilton students who identified as LGBTQI often missed out on that…

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    Hamilton is getting its act together with a program to support its emerging theatre-makers. ALERT, which stands for Artistic Leadership and Entrepreneurial Training, is a no-cost educational initiative of The Hamilton Fringe Festival. The focus is on helping performing artists aged 19 to 30 develop their artistic and production skills.  “We want to give a…

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    Back to School Moms has a simple formula: onsite childcare plus certified teachers plus supportive peers equals more women who successfully sit their high school equivalency exam. The goal is to increase the women’s financial independence and, as a result, the quality of life for their children. Newcomer moms aged 19 years and older can…

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    Hamilton’s older urban neighbourhoods have one defining feature: alleyways. Ward 3 alone represents 37 per cent of all alleyways in Hamilton, the largest percentage of alleyways in any ward. While they offer easy access to homes and businesses, alleyways have grown to be the site for illegal dumping, overgrown vegetation and drainage problems. Green Venture…

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    From the iconic Canadian National Railway tracks to the fast-growing development of the new James North GO station, you will find the past and present converging in north Hamilton. Central Neighbourhood Association (CNA) wants to shed light on the rich history and celebrate the future of the neighbourhood – one story at a time. This…

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    Some 80 at-risk youth are singing a new tune, thanks to a Liberty for Youth program. With the help of a karaoke music studio, leadership curriculum and volunteer mentors from Hamilton Police Services, the program helps participants identify their strengths, connect with caring adults and make constructive choices. Supported by an HCF grant, karaoke in…

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    Community health brokers build a bridge to wellness in Crown Point A successful cancer screening program called CASTLE (Creating Access to Screening and Training in the Living Environment) is expanding to help residents in the Crown Point neighbourhood take important steps to better overall health. Focus groups in this east Hamilton community revealed the need…

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    For older adults, taking the bus spells freedom – no matter what language they speak. Social isolation can affect all seniors but those from ethno-culturally diverse communities are at greater risk.  A grant from HCF is helping the Hamilton Council on Aging to expand its successful “Let’s Take the Bus” workshop designed to increase these…

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    Beyond food security, Neighbour 2 Neighbour Centre knows that community gardens and food programming offer opportunities to learn the value of local food and build relationships between communities. A grant from HCF is helping N2N to expand its programming to connect teens and seniors through food, creating an intergenerational food garden and cooking programming.  Working…

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    What happens when Beethoven meets Thomas Edison? The Hamilton Wentworth District School Board’s answer to this is Learning Through the Arts (LTTA), a series of innovative programs that combine core curriculum with art-based teaching methods to create fun learning experiences that encourage students’ creativity and self-expression in the learning process. The HWDSB placed specially-trained Arts…

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    A physician’s prescription for learning invites parents to share the gift of literacy with their kids There isn’t a pill to improve lit­eracy. But a new program is offer­ing a prescription that’s getting families off to a great start. Read to Your Baby provides family physicians with the tools to start important conversations with parents…

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    Cutting treatment delays for abused children  It’s hard to accept that children as young as three are being sexually abused. But that is a reality the Community Child Abuse Council faces squarely every day. They provide proven treatment, education, and prevention programs to Hamilton’s abused children.  Timely treatment is transformative for children who suffer sexual…

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    The Dougher Community Fund grew from a quiet appreciation of life in Dundas Grants from the fund are dedicated to enabling others to have the same opportunity, now and forever. The donor had a single goal: to ensure future residents would enjoy the community’s many assets as she and her family had. It only made…

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    It’s hard for older adults in Flamborough to get to senior-focused exercise classes. That’s why a grant from HCF is helping Flamborough Information and Community Services to expand the Wheel of Fitness, an educational exercise program that helps seniors from isolated rural communities get moving. There is a definite need. A key recommendation in the…

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    Monarch butterfly numbers are in freefall. A January 2014 count by the World Wildlife Fund shows North America’s population has hit an all-time low – and may disappear completely. That’s not news to the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club. But it does make its latest project, with partner Environment Hamilton, all the more important. Supported by an…

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    HCF is helping more families put money in the bank for higher education through a program to increase access to the Canada Learning Bond Studies show that youth who have even modest education savings are 50 percent more likely to go on to post-secondary schooling than those who have none.  Targeted directly at low-income families,…

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    Adolescence is hard enough – now consider the additional impact of a cancer diagnosis on a teen or on a young adult anxious to get on with life.  A grant from HCF is supporting Wellwood Resource Centre to help this vulnerable group. The Canadian Cancer Society reports that adolescents and young adults have unique needs…

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    A bustling new addition to Hamilton’s food landscape represents two milestones:  the city’s first co-op grocery store and the latest loan from the Hamilton Community Investment Fund (HCIF). Like all co-ops The Mustard Seed, located just west of Locke Street on York Boulevard, is member-owned, though you don’t have to be a member to shop…

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    It was the perfect example of connecting people, ideas and resources when Hamilton Community Foundation helped launch a program that trained out-of-work people in construction and gave downtown residents small exterior property renovations they could not otherwise afford. Last spring, HCF grants manager Sharon Charters learned about the need for a home renovation loans program…

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    The Foundation’s ability to connect local needs with national resources means kids will be on the ice this winter at Eastwood Arena. Skate the Dream is a local program that helps remove barriers preventing Hamilton children from learning to skate and to play hockey.  This season, the program will be fully funded by a grant…

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    A Hamilton Community Foundation grant is helping to support Expansion 2013 at the Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre (ASAC), a project that will enable the centre offer its more than 30 arts, music and health programs and social opportunities to a burgeoning seniors population.  Established in 1974, the Centre has undergone a number of expansions. Today,…

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    Healthy eating on a budget with an emphasis on local, seasonal foods is the premise for a new series of cooking segments airing on Cable 14’s “Hamilton Life” this fall. The segments use ingredients from the Good Food Box, a city-wide monthly food distribution program run by Environment Hamilton that provides a variety of fresh,…

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    Terry Yates is one of HCF’s longest-serving volunteers.  In this 2014 video he discusses the importance of community philanthropy and his view of HCF’s strengths.

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    A striking gallery at the corner of James St. North and Cannon Street West represents two landmarks:  a new home for Hamilton Artists Inc. supported by the first investment from HCF’s new community investment fund. “It’s a stunning transformation at one of Hamilton’s most visible corners,” says Terry Cooke, HCF’s President & CEO.   “We are absolutely…

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Blog

 
 
 

In today’s economy, there are no guarantees of a financially secure adulthood for anybody, but chances improve dramatically with more and better education. It is therefore more essential than ever for students to obtain post-secondary education – college, university or a skilled trades apprenticeship.

Earlier this year, the Ontario Government announced that it would begin providing free tuition for low-income students to attend post-secondary school. This is welcome news, of course, but by itself it likely will not do much to change rates of post-secondary attendance for low-income students.

There are lots of reasons why children from lower-income families attend post-secondary school at lower rates than children from higher-income families, and lack of funds for tuition and books is only one of them. There is a whole network of economic, institutional and cultural barriers that keeps children from achieving their potential.

Far too many Hamilton children are being held back by this network of barriers. While the percentage of Hamilton adults who have not completed any post-secondary education is falling (from 15.7% in 2006 to 13% in 2011), there are still a number of Hamilton neighbourhoods in which low educational attainment is highly concentrated. In other words, there is a lot more we can do to set the next generation of students – every student – up for success.

A new collaborative initiative of the Hamilton Community Foundation and The Fairmount Foundation called ABACUS aims to identify and remove those barriers to open up better educational opportunities for more children.

ABACUS has the ambitious goal of aligning Hamilton’s school boards, post-secondary institutions, municipal government and community service providers around the specific goal of ensuring that more students complete high school, graduate and go on to post-secondary education.

Research into the effectiveness of early intervention strategies for students finds a number of components that are most commonly part of successful programs: a dedicated mentor who guides the student toward success; a curriculum personalized for the student’s learning needs; awareness and sensitivity of the student’s family culture; a positive, supportive peer group; financial assistance through incentives that include scholarships and grants; and a long-term commitment to maintaining the intervention through the student’s school experience.

Taking its cues from the evidence, ABACUS takes a proactive approach, starting early with children in middle school (grades 6, 7 and 8) to support children through this challenging period of development for a successful transition into high school.

The goal of the intervention is to: get both students and their parents thinking about post-secondary opportunities; encourage students to meet challenging, realistic goals for their education; help them prepare by developing their academic skills; support them with mentors, counsellors and extra-curricular activities; and provide financial supports where needed.

Instead of duplicating other efforts already underway, ABACUS is working with existing community programs that support its core intervention pillars to expand their reach, refine their delivery methods and foster better co-ordination between service providers.

For students who face the biggest challenges, a pilot program called Grad Track aims to deliver more intense programming and support for both the child and their parents to ensure they stay engaged with school.

But it’s not enough just to work directly with students. ABACUS also recognizes that the school and community systems in which students live and attend school need to be designed to ensure success for everyone. ABACUS works with educational providers to identify the gaps that kids can slip through, develop policies to close those gaps and then advocate for the changes that are needed.

There are a lot of systems that shape the lives of children attending school – the policies of the school board, of course, but also the way the municipality plans the child’s community, the availability of college and university outreach programs, and institutional decisions about where and how educational resources should be deployed.

Hamilton Community Foundation has a long and proud history of bringing various stakeholders to the table to tackle complex, difficult social challenges, and I’m especially proud of the work we’re doing with ABACUS.

That work would not be possible without the generosity of The Fairmount Foundation, established by Heidi Balsillie, who wants ABACUS to be a “game changer” for Hamilton’s future. As Heidi explains, “This kind of change does not happen quickly. But it has the potential to transform the whole community.”

 

Terry Cooke is President & CEO at Hamilton Community Foundation.

Terry Cooke

 

Originally published in Urbanicity July issue.

 
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International migration is driving Canada’s population growth. 19.8 per cent of Canada’s population is made up of immigrants, with women accounting for 52 per cent of the international migration. Locally, Hamilton has seen a 20 per cent increase in migration between 2011-2012. Despite the growth, immigrant women encounter challenges integrating in a new country, as…

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On Bell Let’s Talk Day, we’re sharing a grant story from our archives as part of the conversation on mental health. We’re proud to continue our support to this critical program that helps reduce barriers to mental health services for Hamilton youth. It’s described, at least on paper, as a mental health program. But for…

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The prevalence of mental health problem among Canadian children and young adults is staggering; Statistics Canada reports that youth aged 15 to 24 experience more mental health or substance abuse disorders than any other age group. Adolescence is often the time when many people experience their first signs of mental illness, and that’s why it’s important to treat it before it has a lasting impact on a person’s life.

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