Future Intended: Read all about it!

Reading and writing can be two of life’s greatest joys. Here in Hamilton, recent research suggests that early childhood literacy rates are steadily rising but there’s still room for improvement. At HCF we understand the importance of education (see our ABACUS initiative) and so we’re proud to support local programs, organizations and festivals that not only help build basic literacy skills but also encourage the appreciation of literary arts. Here are just a few.

  • GritLIT Festival 2018

Now in its 14th year, the gritLIT Readers and Writers Festival is a celebration of Canadian literature. The theme this year is “A Place to Belong” and includes events that “celebrate, question and challenge the idea of belonging”. GritLIT takes place from April 12 – 15 this year — check out the full schedule here.

  • Sit! Stay! Read!

This program, a partnership between the Hamilton Public Library and Hamilton-Burlington SPCA, gets reluctant kids to start reading – through the power of puppy love! Trained pet therapy dogs and volunteers help children to read books aloud and further develop their literary skills. The program runs until the end of May 2018.

  • Shakespearience

Actors Colm Feore and Kenneth Branagh are big fans. So is hip-hop artist Drake. And it’s easy to see why. The Shakespearience literacy program demystifies the Elizabethan prose that can perplex young students and gives them the chance to learn Shakespeare from the perspective of actors who perform the Bard’s works. We’re proud to help give hundreds of local students the Shakespearience of a lifetime!

  • Jack Parent reading program

One-on-one tutoring is a great way to help children improve their literacy skills while also building self-confidence. At this Neighbour to Neighbour Centre program  volunteer tutors assist Grades 1-3 students from 14 Hamilton Mountain schools with reading.

  • Running & Reading Club

This club at Start2Finish helps kids keep their minds and bodies fit. Activities — including “word of the day” character-building, circuit training, journaling, and nutritious snacks — encourage youths to develop healthy lifestyles and literacy aptitude. The program culminates with the Start2Finish 5K Running & Reading Challenge and an awards ceremony that recognizes the kids’ achievements.

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

The Karen and Peter Turkstra Family Foundation Fund

Turkstra Lumber has been operating in Hamilton and South Western Ontario for over 65 years. As active members of their community, Karen and Peter Turkstra sought to give back.

The Karen & Peter Turkstra Family Foundation Fund was established in 2012 to support the charitable giving of their family.  Their prime focus has been on providing donations in the areas of youth, nutrition and education.

Since inception, the Karen & Peter Turkstra Family Foundation Fund has provided over 50 grants to community organizations including: Interval House of Hamilton, Hamilton Food Share, Mission Services of Hamilton, Healthy Community – Healthy Youth Flamborough and Robert Land Community Association amongst many other charities working to make Hamilton a vibrant and inclusive place.

Working with HCF, the Turkstra family are able to use their fund to address unmet needs in the community, now and forever.

Future Intended: Empowering women and girls in Hamilton

At HCF we believe that supporting and empowering women and girls is a crucial element in building a vibrant and inclusive Hamilton. Research undertaken by Women 4 Change demonstrates the impact of gender inequality and suggests that women and girls in our city need additional supports to thrive. Here are some of the latest local projects we support that are directed toward this effort.

  • Syrian Girls Leadership and Integration March Break Camp

The teenage years are a crucial time of physical, emotional, spiritual and social development for young girls. Transitioning to a new culture can be especially challenging in this context. A free program from YWCA provides young girls who have fled Syria as refugees the opportunity to develop leadership, recreational and personal skills during a week-long March Break camp session.

  • Willow Storytelling Program

From January to March, this program – a partnership between Good Shepherd Women’s Services and Steel City Stories – included women from a variety of backgrounds sharing their stories and experiences and culminated in performances that celebrate International Women’s Day.

  • Coding Boot Camp for Women

We love this program that allows women to flex their coding muscles. Last fall, a group of women had the opportunity to participate in a 12-week coding boot camp at the Eva Rothwell Centre which included building websites and digital applications. The program was a partnership between Industry Education Council of Hamilton and Mohawk College. Read more here.

  • Phoenix Place

After fleeing from physical and emotional violence, women and their dependent children face challenges in rebuilding their lives. We’re glad to support the Phoenix Place program at YWCA which empowers women and children in these situations with access to affordable housing, part of a wider strategy to end violence against women.

  • Legal Holistic Pilot Project for Women

Empowering women takes many forms. This project, sponsored by Social Planning and Research Council, empowers women to participate in legal processes by providing legal advice and accompaniment to legal appointments, facilitating conversational women’s groups, and providing links to free community resources and wellness.

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

Future Intended: Spreadin’ rhythm around

Hamilton is definitely a music town. Through a variety of funds, we’re glad to be able to support local projects and organizations that spread the joy of music. From dance and jazz to music-related health research, here are just a few great music projects that we’re supporting this year.

Hamilton All-Star Jazz Band
Did you know that grads from the Hamilton All Star Jazz Band have garnered 33 Juno nominations, 11 Juno wins, and three Grammys? The band has performed at world-famous jazz festivals like Montreux in Switzerland and has featured more than a thousand young musicians since its inception in 1984. We’re glad to give continued support to this Hamilton treasure.

Dance for Parkinson’s
We love this research project which is a partnership between McMaster University’s Digital Music Lab, St. Joseph’s Healthcare, and St Peter’s Hospital. Participants – who dance, dance and dance some more – use a screen-based app and Microsoft’s Kinect camera whose motion-sensor technology allows researchers to study the effects of dance therapy on the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Arrell Youth Centre Productions
A new music program at the Arrell Youth Centre (operated by Banyan Community Services Foundation) will help troubled youths get back on track – by laying down some tracks of their own! The program will involve building a sound studio, music education, and writing and producing music under the guidance of professional musician mentors.

Chinese Cultural Association of Hamilton
Hamiltonians with Chinese heritage have a lot to celebrate this month. This project helps residents appreciate the arts through an array of cultural activities including a dance program for kids that culminated in a Chinese New Year performance.

Resonance Choir
Kids at the Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre will have an especially great reason to sing this year – for their health! This project which also includes partners Hamilton Health Sciences and Culture for Kids in the Arts, will look at how group vocalization and choir singing may benefit youths with physical disabilities, like respiratory and pulmonary diseases.


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

Passion, Planning, Power: HCF workshops help make the connection

Hamilton Community Foundation has an important role to play in stimulating and supporting Hamiltonians to be engaged and effective philanthropists.

One way we’re playing that role is through a new educational workshop titled Sharpen Your Impact. It takes participants through fun and interactive exercises that help them uncover what is important to them and why, and then to use that self-knowledge to build their personal philanthropic plan.

Sarah Wardrope attended a session hosted by Hamilton HIVE, a network for the city’s young professionals.  “It helped me to bring into focus the areas I am passionate about,” she says, “and to identify resources I already have, like my social media networks, that I can use to start making a difference.”

Sharpen Your Impact helps participants recognize that philanthropy goes beyond money, and to consider how they can focus assets such as time, connections, volunteerism and employment to foster the social change they envision.

Sheree Meredith, HCF’s Vice-President of Philanthropic Services says the workshop shows people how to reflect on what they are doing now – and could easily do in future. “It helps them bring together their efforts in a way that can increase the both the difference they make in the community and their own intrinsic satisfaction.”

To learn more about hosting or attending a Sharpen Your Impact workshop, please contact Jill Anderson: j.anderson@hamiltoncommunityfoundation.ca.

Excerpt from the 2017 Legacy Fall newsletter

A clearer future for kids

Five years after its launch, a local vision screening pilot program for school children is paying high-level dividends. The Ontario government recently indicated a new mandate for public health province-wide: to address vision.

HCF provided start-up funding in 2012 to the pilot at five high-need elementary schools. It discovered vision problems in 16 percent of the children screened. Of children who needed glasses, 18 percent didn’t have them. The project engaged multiple partners to provide screening space, transportation, expertise and equipment and more than 114 Hamilton schools are now involved. HCF has supported the program throughout, including subsidizing the cost for glasses.

HCF’s initial grant also helped document the project as a policy and public education tool. Now, incorporating that evidence into its broader findings, Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has mandated all public health units to address the need for vision screening.

“HCF’s funding was critical to getting this project going,” says Laura Laverty, from the City of Hamilton’s Healthy Families Division, ”and because of that, Hamilton has a head start on the province’s new vision mandate.”


Excerpt from the 2017 Legacy Fall newsletter

Code for Advancement

Women are flexing their coding muscles at a free 12-week bootcamp held at the Eva Rothwell Centre this fall.

The program, which is supported by HCF’s Women 4 Change and organized by Hamilton’s Industry Education Council and CitySchool by Mohawk, teaches women not currently in school to build websites and applications. Guest speakers and visits to Mohawk College provide inspiration and practical information about educational pathways.

The bootcamp addresses an important need in Canada. “With cumulative hiring requirements expected to reach as many as 232,000 by 2019,” reports the Information and Communications Technology Council, “attracting and retaining top female talent in this highly competitive market has never been more critical.”


Excerpt from the 2017 Legacy Fall newsletter

Heads up!

“Brain Smart: Let’s Play Safely,” is a research project that is tackling youth concussions head on.

Concussion can have lasting impact on all areas of a young person’s life: cognitive, social, physical and emotional. The project’s objectives are to reduce the risk of concussion in organized youth sports and increase knowledge of concussion management by coaches, athletes and parents. The initial focus is on the sports with the highest concussion rates: hockey and football.

The 16-month project is funded by a Community Health and Education Research grant, led by McMaster’s CanChild Centre for Disability Research. Numerous partners include the City of Hamilton, minor sports associations, Brain Injury Services, Lifemark Physiotherapy and the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board,

The project’s five phases include a baseline survey about concussion incidence, knowledge and attitudes and existing protocols, ; helping teams to develop or refine their concussion management protocols; outreach and education sessions for teams and players; a follow-up survey; and sharing results. The plan is to eventually expand the research to all minor sports in Hamilton.


Excerpt from 2017 Fall Legacy newsletter

Positive Connections

Next summer, local SoBi bikeshare hubs will be transformed by art, and in the process, increase the artists’ connection to community.

The artists will be participants in Proof Positive, a collaboration between Centre[3] for Print and Media Arts and the Regional Rehabilitation Centre that teams up 30 people who are undergoing physical and mental rehabilitation with two local experts. The participants will learn the fundamentals of printmaking, drawing, painting and photography while producing their own work on the theme of transformation. The program will be hosted at Centre[3]’s James North studio and the rehabilitation centre at the Hamilton General Hospital.

Access to collaborative, creative opportunities for self-expression is important for people whose disabilities may prevent them from going outside the rehabilitation centre and thus may isolate them from their community. Participants in the project, which is funded by an HCF Creative Arts grant, will use art to connect and share with the larger community, breaking down barriers to inclusion and sparking conversations at SoBi stations across the city.


Excerpt from 2017 Fall Legacy newsletter

Hamilton’s Alleyway Hero

There are more than 700 alleys in Hamilton. In its oldest neighbourhoods, these alleys gave horse-drawn carriages access to homes and businesses. Today they are transportation corridors and impromptu playgrounds, bike paths and shortcuts to school or work. Some are gang-tagged and littered with drug paraphernalia. Increasingly, they are leafy, flower-lined and bordered by public art. Brenda Duke, is determined to make every one safe and beautiful. 

Brenda started cleaning the alley behind her Gibson Landsdale home in 2011. The idea caught on, and she engaged more and more local residents in caring for their local alleys – spaces that accumulate garbage and blight neighbourhoods when neglected, but generate pride and healthy activity when reclaimed.

Brenda expanded her effort into Beautiful Alleys in 2015. Since then, the group has transformed roughly 200 alleys. Some 150 volunteers do twice-annual cleanups with support from the City of Hamilton, area BIAs, businesses and community organizations, supplies from Hamilton Clean & Green, McMaster University researchers cataloguing progress, and HCF small grants.

Brenda credits some of her success to HCF’s Neighbourhood Leadership Institute (NLI). Through her 10-week course in 2015, Brenda says she “refined her skills” and made her work more effective. She built networks and learned more about dealing with conflict. She remains a valued NLI alumni, mentoring other community leaders. “NLI is always there for you,” she says. “It’s continual learning. I recommend it to other leaders and help in any way I can.”

As she gears up for the next cleanup, Brenda has an ambitious goal – to put Beautiful Alleys out of business. “When residents take over the care of their alleys, you don’t need our group to come in,” she explains. Already, the number of “new” alleys needing help is going down – a sure sign her leadership is making a difference.

Excerpt from 2017 Fall Legacy newsletter