Future Intended: Taking pride in positive change

We believe in creating a city where everyone feels that they belong, can be who they are and love whomever they choose. In honour of #PrideMonth, we’re spotlighting five programs we support that serve LGBTQ+ people.

Queer and trans youth collaborative

  • After the closing of the Well, Hamilton’s only LGBTQ+ resource hub at the time, the Queer and Trans Youth Collaborative working group came together. Support from HCF helped provide training to youth-serving social service organizations to better engage with young LGBTQ+ Hamiltonians.

The Rainbow Railroad

  • For many LGBTQ+ people around the world, the threat of state-enabled murder, violence and persecution is a daily reality. Toronto-based Rainbow Railroad helps them to escape from these home countries and relocate somewhere they can live their lives in peace and comfort. We’re proud to support this important and life-saving work via the Ray Brillinger and Cy Hack Fund. Watch this powerful video on the work of the Rainbow Railroad.

Rainbow Prom

  • Every student deserves a prom – one that’s safe, welcoming and joyful. In 2008, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board initiated the Rainbow Prom, a positive and safe place where all students can express their gender identities and sexual orientations. We’re proud to support this now annual tradition in Hamilton.

Trauma-sensitive yoga

  • Post-traumatic stress can have a negative impact on mental and physical health. This program at North Hamilton Community Health Centre addresses the high rates of trauma in the LGBTQ+ community and the lack of physical and mental health programming specifically for LGBTQ+ folks in Hamilton. Through yoga, participants engage in a healing experience in an affirming, safe and supportive space.


  • Sometimes folks just need a place to engage with others and feel comfortable. The Kaleidoscope program, a partnership between Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club and NGen Youth Centre, is a LGBTQ+ youth circle that provides a safe and positive space for participants to share experiences, receive peer support and simply be themselves.

Honourable mention: The Unicorn Fund

  • “All LGBTQ+ people need places of support, opportunities to shine and a chance to speak their brilliant truth.” This newly established fund will directly benefit LGBTQ+ kids and their families through granting.

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.

Future Intended: Supporting seniors in Hamilton

The latest Vital Signs data on seniors in Hamilton suggests that the number of people aged 65 and older is significantly increasing. Hamilton can and must be an age-friendly city. We are working towards that goal by supporting a number of programs that provide services for seniors.

Hamilton rural seniors’ grocery bus project

  • At St. Matthew’s House, this program that starts with preventing food insecurity ends with improving quality of life for seniors, as the food delivery team develops relationships with seniors to find out the other needs they may have. Read more about this program here.

Music for Memories

  • The power of music is truly wondrous. Sweet sounds of the past can ignite memories even for people suffering from dementia. The Music for Memories program at Alzheimer’s Society of Hamilton and Halton gives patients access to iPods and specially curated playlists. The result – happy memories associated with the music – can be extremely beneficial to quality of life.

Senior Women4Change learning series

  • If knowledge is half the battle then this series of workshops from Hamilton Council on Aging is a major boon for seniors looking to improve their health and well-being. From housing and transportation to recreation, financial entitlements, community services and civic engagement, the workshops, run by volunteers, serve to inform seniors about the resources available to them.

Seniors’ symphony experience

  • Love classical music? Love being a senior? You’re in luck! Designed with seniors in mind, the Seniors’ Symphony Experience at Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra includes a series of perks including discounts, free performances, a Talk & Tea series, Classical 101 talks at senior centres and more.

Aging Artfully

  • Creative expression is an important part of the human experience at all ages. Seniors in Dundas have an amazing opportunity to access the arts through the Aging Artfully program at Dundas Valley School of Art. By offering this program for free, DVSA is able to engage seniors who may be facing social, economic, physical and mental health challenges.

Would you like to learn more? Check out this Vital Signs chat with experts discussing the latest data on seniors and aging in Hamilton. You can also watch this episode of Vital Signs TV called Is Hamilton an age-friendly city?

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 and more.

Future Intended: Centre stage in Hamilton

With such a rich heritage of live theatre in Hamilton, it certainly does feel as though “all the world’s a stage”! Here are just a few examples of programs and organizations supported through HCF grants that enhance Hamilton’s tradition of live theatre.

  • Operating grants for community theatres

Operating support for community theatre is key to a thriving performing arts culture. Through the Alfred & Joan Robertshaw Memorial Fund, we’re proud to support the day-to-day operations of a number of local theatres including Theatre Ancaster, Hamilton Theatre Inc., Players’ Guild of Hamilton Inc., Village Theatre Waterdown and Theatre Aquarius. Read more about the Robertshaws’ love story and community theatre legacy here.

  • Hamilton Festival Theatre Company

The professional development of a new generation of artists in Hamilton is essential to sustaining our city’s cultural renaissance. The Artistic Leadership and Entrepreneurial Training Program is an arts education initiative from Hamilton Festival Theatre Company that does exactly that. Participants work with theatre artists and mentors to develop their skills and their own works, attend a diverse range of performances, and help mount the annual Frost Bites Festival.

  • Shakespearience In-class Experience

Students in elementary and secondary school get a taste of the Bard through this program that turned 20 last year. But the experience is also designed to enhance confidence and communication skills. Through the work of Shakespeare, students develop soft skills that help them in future endeavours, both in their personal and professional lives.

  • Theatre Aquarius Ovation Outreach Enrollment Program

The performing arts should be enjoyed by everyone. Theatre Aquarius makes good on this idea by providing 160 no-cost registrations for various education programs to youth who would otherwise be unable to afford them. These programs help participants develop life-skills and self-expression, working to increase diversity and instil a passion for the arts.

  • The Connect Theatre Project

After last year’s Connect Theatre Project presentation of Guys and Dolls, Dundas residents are in for another special treat this summer. Local youth will flex their creative muscles for a production of Mamma Mia! No Dundas high school currently runs a musical theatre program so this project, rehearsed and performed at Dundas Baptist Church, provides an opportunity for young people to feel empowered and engage in a large-scale and high-quality Broadway musical.

Future Intended is an ongoing series that spotlights some of our most recent granting in categories like physical activity, Indigenous communities, literacy, food, the environment and more.


Feathered friends

Rodent chow might not be on everyone’s wish list, but it is at the top of the Owl Foundation’s needs. Pine shavings are a close second.

For over 40 years, the Owl Foundation has worked with Humane Societies, vets, SPCAs and fellow rehab organizations to care for orphaned and injured owls (and other birds of prey as needed). Their goal is to nurse them back to health and reintroduce these magnificent birds into the wild. Owls that cannot be reintroduced into the wild are considered for placement in foster parent or breeding programs.

Food and bedding are necessities for the Owl Foundation. The supplies support the 1200 or so mice and rats that are used to feed the injured owls. Support for these feathered friends comes from the McCallum, McBride and Malloch Foundation Funds.


Excerpt from Legacy winter 2019 newsletter

Empowering women to succeed

Soroptimist International of Hamilton-Burlington recognizes that education is one of the most effective means to bring positive change to a woman’s life and that supporting a woman’s desire to improve her own and her family’s lives benefits the entire community.

Soroptimist International works to improve the lives of women and girls in 120 countries. Locally, through their “Live Your Dream” program, Soroptimists provide financial assistance to women who are sole supporters of their families to pursue education improves their skills, potential and feelings of self-worth. Most of the women receiving assistance are survivors of sexual assault, poverty, or addiction.

It’s a need clearly identified in HCF’s 2018 Vital Signs Report: Hamilton women living in poverty face multiple barriers to improving their education and, as a result, the path to prosperity. Supported by an HCF grant, local Soroptimists are responding with plans to increase the number of awards.

Swimming with a mission

Hamilton children with disabilities are learning to swim, thanks to a partnership between SWAM Hamilton and Special Olympics Ontario. The program uses rigorously-selected student volunteers from McMaster University to give low-cost swimming and water safety lessons to children with special needs aged 2-18.

Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children under the age of 10 in Canada, and the risk is increased for youth with sensory-motor or intellectual limitations.

SWAM Canada is a national non-profit organization that offers affordable and accessible swimming lessons. In Hamilton, it has been providing one-on-one lessons to special-needs children for a decade at the downtown YMCA facility. Demand for the program is outpacing resources and HCF’s Ontario Endowment for Children & Youth in Recreation Fund is helping to fill the gap, with more than 100 children benefitting this year. The McMaster students who volunteer as instructors also benefit, developing leadership skills and valuable experience.


Excerpt from Legacy winter 2019 newsletter

ABACUS at three

In 2015, Hamilton Community Foundation set out  to create a pathway for more kids to graduate high school and move on to post-secondary education: college, university and the trades.

Known as ABACUS, this 10-year commitment is the primary focus of HCF’s Community Fund granting and leadership. It is unique in targeting students in Grades 6, 7, 8 — a critical transition period for young people that is key to their later success. By supporting middle school students, parents, educators and other partners, ABACUS works to help kids more effectively transition to high school, begin to set goals early and imagine a future with more possibilities.

ABACUS comprises three components: granting to increase the community’s capacity to meet the needs of this age group, an intensive one-on-one mentoring program called Grad Track, and support for systems change to address gaps that may present barriers to educational advancement.

At the three-year mark of ABACUS, Hamilton Community Foundation has funded a wide range of community-based programs. They include before, during and after-school activities such as mentoring, academic support, goal setting, and campus visits. Students are engaged through a wide variety of interests: the arts, sports, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) programs and others. Some numbers to date include 9,000 students participating, 29 initiatives funded, and 700 parents and 460 educators engaged.

ABACUS in action
Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club’s ABACUS after-school initiative illustrates the approach. Twice a week, students get homework help and have a range of academic and life skill learning experiences. Once a month, they broaden their perspectives on the future with outings to local high schools and post-secondary institutions. Some 75 middle school students are involved, along with more than 30 parents. The program reports outcomes that include:

• Better school attendance and homework completion
• More participation in leadership activities and volunteer opportunities outside school
• More positive attitudes toward school and learning
• A developing interest in post-secondary education
• Parental commitment to nurturing their child’s potential

“ABACUS goals are challenging, and the work is complex,” says Matt Goodman, Vice-President, Grants
& Community Initiatives. “But the indications are that we’re on the right track. Working with students at this pivotal point is transforming the way they view their own potential. That’s tremendously exciting for each student — but also for the whole community. Hamilton’s competitive future depends on it.”
Learn more and watch our video at ABACUSatHCF.ca


Excerpt from Legacy winter 2019 newsletter

A family honours its roots

Lou Serafini Jr. opens new facility, with Ward 3 Councillor Nrinder Nann and Mayor Fred Eisenberger

The new Serafini Family Ice & Splash Pad, located at the Bernie Morelli Recreation Centre, is a gift to Hamilton that exemplifies the family’s personal and business roots in the city, as well as its lifelong love of recreation.

“Hamilton has been central to our family’s history and we’re honoured to support this new facility,” says Lou Serafini Jr. “It represents both the city’s role in our lives, and our desire to share the benefits and enjoyment of recreation with young people who may not otherwise have an opportunity to explore their potential through sport.”
That goal is also being achieved by the first three grants from
the new Fengate Recreation Fund at HCF, established to increase access to sport and recreation in the neighbourhood surrounding the new rec centre. They include a grant to help make skates and helmets available for local children and families with limited financial resources, another to support a girls’ running program operating
at the nearby Prince of Wales School, and a third to subsidize participation in fee-based programs at the Bernie Morelli Rec Centre.
“The new facility can be enjoyed by families summer and winter and, coupled with the grants, is a remarkable tribute to the city,” says HCF President & CEO Terry Cooke. “We’re thrilled to play a role in helping the Serafini family achieve its philanthropic goals.”


Excerpt from Legacy winter 2019 newsletter

Future Intended: Some food for thought

Virginia Woolf wrote, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” We agree that good healthy food is essential for physical and mental health and well-being. From tackling hunger to providing job training opportunities, here’s a selection of programs we support that revolve around food as a way to bring positive change to people’s lives.

  • Come to the Table at King’s Way Outreach Centre

The knowledge and skills for preparing healthy meals can be life-changing. Come to the Table empowers clients at King’s Way Outreach Centre to create healthy nutrient-dense meals. It also provides training on proper food handling and how to cook with limited food options.

  • Food4Kids Weekends without hunger

A recent grant from the Edith H. Turner Fund will help expand the Food4Kids Weekends without Hunger program to three high schools in Hamilton. Consistency of weekend food access has a significant impact on physical and mental health of students and academic development. The program, already a success in elementary schools, helps to increase the chances for all students to succeed.

  • Tackling Youth Hunger in Hamilton: A Mealshare Expansion

Buy one, give one — that’s the idea behind the Mealshare model. Mealshare teams up with local restaurants and one dollar from every order of designated menu items is donated to local charities that tackle youth hunger. Mealshare is partnering with Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club and makes its way to Hamilton this summer.

  • Wesley Urban Ministries Food Service Training Program

Vulnerable community members including youth and newcomers are getting a great start at First Start Café, a new social enterprise at Wesley Urban Ministries. The food service training program provides employment-related supports and career-development services. Clients learn independence and coping skills while increasing their chances for finding employment afterwards.

  • Food for Thought at YWCA Hamilton

Food for Thought builds on existing programs and resources at YWCA to empower women to succeed. The program works with the YWCA Employment Centre and At the Table Café social enterprise, to engage more than 60 women experiencing homelessness and other barriers. Among other things, the program increases food security, helps builds self-esteem, enhances employability, and provides leadership and life skills.

Future Intended is an ongoing series that spotlights some of our most recent granting in categories like physical activity, Indigenous communities, literacy, the environment and more.

Future Intended: Activating Hamilton’s youth

It can be easy to take fitness opportunities for granted. However, barriers persist that make access a challenge for many people. Fortunately, there are wonderful organizations in Hamilton working to make sure everybody has a chance to take part in healthy active lifestyles. Here are just a few programs we are proud to support that get kids active and having fun.

  • Start to Finish – Running and Reading Club

Kids in this program get a healthy dose of both exercise and literacy. In the Running and Reading Club, circuit training, running-based games and relay activities are followed by nutritious snacks, “word of the day” and reading with the coaches. It all culminates in a Reading and Running Challenge that includes a 5k run and a Jeopardy-style literacy game.

  • Liberty for Youth – Prodigal Sonz

Basketball, mentorship and leadership skills come together in this program at Liberty for Youth. Every practice starts with discussion led by a mentor who shares stories about dealing with challenges. Youth in the program also get the opportunity to deliver talks on a variety of issues like mental health, drugs and negative peer pressure and they learn skills relating to leadership, health, relationships, self-esteem and public speaking. In the summer, youth participate in the annual Liberty and Justice Unity Basketball Event in partnership with Hamilton Police Department.

  • Living Rock Ministries – Rock-in-Action

From ball hockey games and weekly fitness workouts to dodge ball and access to the gym at the YMCA, the Rock-in-Action program offers activities for at-risk youth while promoting social inclusion. Beyond the “basics”, the program helps decrease social isolation and allows youth to experience community in a meaningful way.

  • SWAM – Swimming with a mission

Teaching children water safety is crucial for preventing injuries. According to SWAM Canada, “disabled children are ten times likelier to suffer from a submersion injury than the general population”. The SWAM program gives preference to low-income families and uses student volunteers from McMaster University to give one-on-one swimming and water safety lessons to children with special needs.

  • Jump in Foundation – Physical Activation Program

This program is another great example of breaking down financial barriers for families seeking opportunities to keep their kids active. Through activities that are tailored to facilitate mental and physical well-being, youth suffering from mental health issues are given opportunities to reap the “emotional, physical and mental rewards” of a healthy lifestyle. Youth are even invited to bring a family member along for the fun!

Future Intended is an ongoing series that spotlights some of our most recent granting in categories like music, visual art, literacy, the environment and more.