Making life less taxing

Thanks to the Social Planning and Research Council’s free 2020 tax clinics, clients received an average refund and tax benefit of $3,359. It’s an income boost of more than 10 percent for those living on $30,000 a year that would have gone unclaimed without the program.

In total, since 2018, $9 million in refunds and tax benefits have come back to Hamilton residents living on low incomes. A grant from HCF’s Pandemic Response Fund helped keep the program running in 2021.

Program volunteers have assisted seniors, people with disabilities, single parents, working couples and others. The benefits go beyond financial. Clients report less stress and better food security. Some have been able to retain their immigration status as a result of the program.

“Many clients are terrified to do their own taxes,” one service provider said. In the words of another, “This program is a life-saver.”


Excerpt from 2021 Fall Legacy newsletter

Mapping for student success

Local students will benefit from The Hamilton Community Research Partnership (CRP) — a coalition whose groundbreaking work will provide insights into their pathways to, and through, secondary and post-secondary education.

CRP’s members are Hamilton’s two school boards, McMaster University and Mohawk College. Hamilton Community Foundation and the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario brought the group together in 2018, and are providing funding and organizational support.

The group’s purpose is to connect data housed by individual educational institutions, to provide a fuller understanding of students’ trajectories and how they could be affected by spending and other decisions. Within a secure infrastructure, CRP provides the means to share de-identified data and fill critical information gaps. This will lead to knowledge such as the characteristics and predictors of students’ likelihood to attend post-secondary and their success once there. It can provide information about the programming and assistance that may increase this likelihood, and how colleges and universities can support incoming students, particularly those who need it most.

“CRP is a good example of HCF’s systems-change work in education,” says Lorraine Valmadrid, HCF’s Learning and Evaluation Lead. “Deepening our understanding of student pathways also helps to ensure HCF’s roles as funder, convener and policy influencer are based on the best evidence.”

Like the Foundation, all CRP members will gain an improved, evidence- based understanding of how educational systems can support student success across the learning journey.

“Our interest in students doesn’t end when they leave us in Grade 12,” says Dave Hansen, director of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board. “CRP highlights what we can do at an early stage to increase the likelihood of success later, and defines the partnership’s shared purpose: to serve the students of Hamilton.”


Excerpt from 2021 Fall Legacy newsletter

Investing in an icon

Hamilton Community Foundation will have a new home in 2023. This fall, TAS, an impact development company, announced it had acquired the historic Coppley Building in downtown Hamilton. HCF is both a founding investor in the project and a future anchor tenant.

TAS plans to restore the Coppley Building’s original character and footprint, transforming it into a community-serving hub that will include a lively mix of commercial uses and tenants. Restoration and renovation is expected to begin in mid-2022, and TAS plans to start welcoming new tenants — including the Foundation — in mid-2023. HCF’s investment is part of its impact investing commitment that targets both social and financial returns.

“For over 165 years, this landmark has meant so much to the vibrancy of the core and the lives of many Hamiltonians who worked here,” says Terry Cooke, HCF’s President & CEO, pictured above with Mazyar Mortazavi, TAS President & CEO. “We look forward to partnering with TAS to deliver a new hub for commercial and social activity downtown.”


Excerpt from 2021 Fall Legacy newsletter

Future Intended: History Matters

Learning about history is crucial to how we engage in the present and frame the future. We’re proud to support a series of programs led by, and geared to, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of colour) communities that enhance historical literacy to tackle pressing issues like colonialism and racism.

Retracing Colonial Histories in Hamilton

Hamilton, like Canada as a whole, is steeped in a history of colonialism. This is the focus of a new program from Righting Relations, a women-led, pan-Canadian network of adult educators working towards a more just Canada through political and economic literacy. The program consists of a series of workshops with historical topics like the Water Walkers, Hamilton’s Black Community, Six Nations land struggles, 1492 Land Back and the Red Hill Valley Parkway. Workshops will feature storytelling with panel discussions, witness testimonials, community leaders and activists.


This program from Filipinas of HamOnt takes its meaning from the Filipino words saysay (sense) and kasaysayan (history). Drawing on experts from the local Filipina-Canadian community, the focus is on the “hyphenated” histories and contexts of Philippine, Southeast Asian, and Canadian heritage. The program combines workshops, a networking event, and a collaborative video production in time for the Philippine Independence Day on June 12.


History can function to build character, generate pride and provide role models. A program from RAFIKI, an organization that supports Congolese and other Francophone Africans in Canada, seeks to help Black children of the French-speaking community discover their history and learn about the contribution of Black Canadians to Canada’s development.

Educating through video

TRAD started as a club at McMaster University in 2013 and has evolved into an online magazine that explores African cultures, ideas, philosophies and traditions, and serves Black youth in Ontario. An HCF grant will support TRAD in developing informative and interactive videos designed to connect local Black youth to Hamilton’s African diaspora and to one another.

Nuestra Historia

Asocacion Fraternidad Hispana (AFH) is a local organization committed to the inclusion and progress of Hamilton’s Hispanic community. A new program from AFH looks to help Hamilton’s Latin American community learn and engage with its roots. In collaboration with McMaster students, expert-led workshops (including Black and Indigenous Latin community members) will delve into topics such as race, identity and colonialism in Latin American history.

Our Future Intended blog is an ongoing series that spotlights some of our most recent granting in areas such as physical activityIndigenous communitiesliteracyfoodcommunity theatreseniors, our pandemic response and more.

Transforming Hamilton for trans-feminine folk

If you were assigned male at birth but identify as a woman, you may consider yourself trans-feminine. While some safe spaces exist where Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ Hamiltonians can spend time with peers, a program run by Compass Community Health (CCH) is helping to address a gap in support for trans- feminine people in the city.

An Edith H. Turner Foundation Fund grant is helping CCH, along with key partners Kyle’s Place and speqtrum, to create three trans-feminine peer support groups: one for youth, one for adults, and one to encourage intergenerational sharing.

The idea came from members of the trans-feminine community. The groups will be run by two peer facilitators who will receive training and ongoing support from several organizations, including the AIDS Network and YWCA. Along with CCH staff, these agencies will also support both the development and the health of peer facilitators whose work makes them susceptible to vicarious trauma and burnout. In turn, the agencies will benefit from hearing trans-feminine perspectives. Ongoing feedback will shape program delivery and ultimately help address gaps in trans-feminine research.

Excerpt from 2021 Spring Legacy newsletter

Supporting students

Hamilton’s high-school graduation rates have improved over the past decade, but there are still pockets of the city where students struggle. With HCF support, Munar Learning Center will expand its already successful after- school programming for Somali-Canadian students using the award-winning Pathways to Education model.

Some 80 students aged 10 to 17 at Hess Street Public School, Dr. Davey Elementary School and Bernie Custis Secondary School will receive one-on-one and group literacy and numeracy support, including six hours of tutoring a week. Building on already successful relationships with families, program volunteers — which include parents — will attend parent-teacher interviews, connect with teachers regarding student progress, track student attendance, encourage parent participation and help students set academic and social goals. Students with learning disabilities will receive individualized action plans.

The program is promoted by downtown mosques and local youth-serving organization Empowerment Squared, which helps recruit volunteers.

Excerpt from 2021 Spring Legacy newsletter

Mental health for all

Maintaining mental health is a challenge for many people and COVID-19 has made it worse. Fifty percent of Canadians say their mental health has deteriorated, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. In Hamilton, Shalem Mental Health Network has seen demand for its services increase 25 percent. Still, many can’t afford to get help.

With support from HCF, Shalem’s Counselling Assistance Program will allow 150 children, youth, couples, families and seniors on the margins and struggling with poverty and housing, to access psychotherapy sessions at a reduced cost.

Sessions are offered by video call unless there are safety, privacy or technology concerns that warrant in-person, socially-distanced meetings. Treatment plans identify sources of ongoing support once sessions are completed. Clients are asked to contribute a small sum to increase their own engagement in the process.

The short-term interventions used by Shalem staff have been shown to result in strong outcomes, balancing quality of care and cost.

Hundred Waters Fund

Lori Dessau Tauber and Lewis Tauber first envisioned an HCF fund as part of the couple’s Our Millennium project. They established the Hundred Waters Fund to support artists who are making innovative connections with their community, naming it in tribute to the ideas and work of Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, whose belief in the power of art and architecture to improve everyday life was a guiding principle for the couple.

“It is the partnership idea Lew and I thought was vital and interesting — the creative ways artists can support and engage community to improve quality of life,” says Lori.

Since Lew’s passing in August 2019, Lori looks back and finds even more meaning in the way they established and grew the fund together.

“Lew’s imagination was sparked by Hundertwasser,” she says, reflecting on his art, book, coin and stamp collecting, curation of an international mail art show, and his book about the artist. “This fund is a very personal legacy.” She remembers Lew on birthdays and anniversaries by encouraging friends and family to donate to the fund, which also supports the Community Fund.

“Our grants are small so far,” says Lori, “but even a small grant can be very powerful if it’s just what someone needs at the right moment.”

Excerpt from 2021 Spring Legacy newsletter

Jane and Stewart Capell Dream Weaver Fund

Jane Capell has been connected with Hamilton Community Foundation for more than 20 years, including monthly giving and participation in the Women 4 Change giving circle. She is thrilled by the latest step in that relationship: she and her husband’s Dream Weaver Fund is about to begin granting. The potential to change people’s lives is exciting. “Stewart’s passion is hunger and food security,” Jane says. “Mine is more abstract. I think everyone needs to be able to dream. Some just need a leg up. I hope to help turn someone’s nugget of a dream into reality.”

The Capells have chosen to work through Hamilton Community Foundation because of its expertise and its permanence. “The Foundation has the boots on the ground to know where the needs in the community are. We think it’s important to be flexible so that our giving – today and long after we’re gone – can continue to meet changing community needs.”

As a financial planner, Jane encourages others to consider philanthropy in their overall financial plan, too. She stresses both the joys of giving and its potential tax benefits. “I show people the math and then let them think about their options,” she says, options which include both current giving and estate planning.

Hamilton Community Foundation worked through those options with the Capells and Jane sings HCF’s praises about that relationship.

“The care and consideration they give every donor is outstanding. Even as huge as the Foundation has grown, it’s as if you’re the only person they’re dealing with. They know you.”

Future Intended: Pandemic Response

In March 2020, Ontario declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many cities across Canada, Hamilton went into lockdown. Intended to keep people safe, the lockdown also meant that many vulnerable Hamiltonians could no longer access needed services in traditional ways. HCF established the Pandemic Response Fund to support charities working on the frontlines to keep people safe, healthy and connected. These are just a few local programs and organizations we’ve supported over the past several months.
Elizabeth Fry Society


    • In a crisis, the basics of life become a primary concern. When the pandemic hit Hamilton, Elizabeth Fry Society helped ease the worries of vulnerable women with comfort kits that included toiletries, clothing, food, hygiene products and baby essentials. The society serves criminalized women released from prison, homeless women and sex workers.

Islamic Relief Canada

    • Food security was a significant challenge when the pandemic hit, especially for populations that are already historically underserved. A grant from our Pandemic Response Fund supported the Barakah Box program, a joint venture with Mishka Social Services to provide culturally appropriate food boxes at the Hamilton Mountain Mosque. Clients include low-income families, newcomer and refugee families, seniors, and people who are differently-abled.

L’Arche Hamilton

    • Restrictions on in-person gatherings made it difficult to keep connected. A grant from HCF helped L’Arche to maintain appropriate levels of care for their clients, adults with intellectual disabilities. The purchase of new laptops allowed staff to work remotely and funds were also used to purchase “workpods” – private space dividers including beds – to set up in empty office spaces while staff worked from home. The spaces could be used to quarantine staff and clients in the event of infection.

Refuge Centre for Newcomer Health

    • The pandemic has a disproportionate effect on different communities, one of which is newcomers. Language barriers intensify this inequity. With support from HCF, Refuge Centre for Newcomer Health provided 600 hours of translation services to help newcomers navigate key pandemic information related including how to access government supports.

Wellwood Resource Centre

    • For people already dealing with serious illnesses, the pandemic was yet another challenge, from isolation to vulnerability and anxiety about entering hospitals and doctor’s offices. A grant from HCF helped Wellwood Resource Centre to make a transition to virtual programming and increased online resources. This builds on the organization’s plan for a “virtual community of support” for clients unable to come to its physical offices.

Our Future Intended blog is an ongoing series that spotlights some of our most recent granting in areas such as physical activity, Indigenous communities, literacy, food, community theatre, seniors and more.