Caring dads

Caring Dads is a program offered in Canada, the U.S. and Europe that has shown significant success in working with fathers at-risk of using abusive behaviour with their families. Now, the program will be offered in Hamilton for the first time, filling an urgent local need identified by agencies addressing family violence.

Thanks to an HCF grant, Hamilton fathers will no longer have to be referred to Caring Dads programs in other cities. Offered by Catholic Family Services, Caring Dads emphasizes helping fathers to build strong, supportive relationships with their children. It works to increase a father’s ability to respond appropriately to kids’ misbehaviour, co-parent with their children’s mothers and put their kids’ needs first.

Excerpt from Spring 2017 Legacy Newsletter

A family affair

The Hamilton Philharmonic continued its tradition of bringing classical music to new ears with a complementary invitation for families living in City Housing Hamilton to attend its Family Concert Experience.

Supported by an HCF Creative Arts Fund grant, the program aims to introduce families to their local professional symphony, create a sense of belonging in their community’s arts organizations and build a special family experience. It included pre-concert activities such as create-your-own-instrument crafts and an instrument “petting zoo”.

As an early “welcome to your symphony,” HPO representatives attended tenant meetings to promote the concerts. Of City Housing Hamilton’s 13,000 residents, almost half are children.

Excerpt from Spring Legacy 2017 newsletter

Infant food bank fills a gap

Essential Aid, a Hamilton organization focused on nutrition for children under four, is filling a critical gap in the food bank system by stocking a wide range of infant formulas.

The nutrition needs of infants are unique and many formula-fed infants can’t tolerate a change.  Traditional food banks are unable to provide a selection of formula as it is expensive and product donations are difficult to acquire.   By offering multiple formulas, Essential Aid assists families in immediate need – no proof of income is required as the organization believes that an emergency can happen to anyone. The infant food bank is seeing an ever-increasing demand; HCF’s grant will help to meet the needs of an average 200 children monthly.

Essential Aid also offers a breastfeeding support program which provides education, one-on-one support from a volunteer nurse and supplies.  Last year, the organization provided emergency formula, diapers and breastfeeding equipment to 1,765 children, many of whose families were referred by other local food banks.


Exceprt from 2016 Fall Legacy newsletter

Enriching activities

ABACUS is HCF’s initiative to improve graduation and post-secondary access rates by focusing on students in the middle-school years.  To support the critical role of teachers in this goal, Hamilton Community Foundation launched a new small grants program – up to $500 – for Grade 6, 7 and 8 teachers to provide enrichment activities that support overall ABACUS objectives.

Including exciting ventures like a hands-on opportunity to design, test and build pneumatic and hydraulic systems, to experiencing pre-1850 Canadian history at Battlefield Park, to publishing a student-produced community newspaper, the first round drew almost 70 applications from teachers across the city, reflecting a wide range of projects that share an academic focus and a goal to improve student achievement.

Teachers take note:  the next application deadline for ABACUS Teacher Grants is March 1, 2017.  Check it out at


Exceprt from 2016 Fall Legacy newsletter

Help to start a new life

A new program at the Ellen Osler Home in Dundas is helping women ease back into the community, before, during and after their release from serving a federal sentence.

Supported by an HCF grant, the program provides “in-reach” staff who accompany and assist the women during stressful times such as parole board hearings, and the transition to Ellen Osler which can happen on short notice.  Once they arrive at the home, it supports a smoother transition in practical ways, such as helping to pay for transportation to work commitments or reconnecting with family.  It also enables the women to participate in community activities – recreational classes for example – that help them build stronger relationships and support beyond their involvement with the correctional system.


Excerpt from the 2016 Fall Legacy newsletter

Double Play

chhip2A recent Hamilton Community Foundation grant to a new partnership project called the City of Hamilton Home Improvement Project (CHHIP) is like making two grants in one.

The program brings together the City’s Neighbourhood Action Strategy, CityHousing Hamilton, Threshold School of Building and the Foundation, and works toward a dual purpose:  providing job skills to unemployed young people aged 18 to 29, while improving social housing space.

The participants are drawn primarily from the City of Hamilton’s priority neighbourhoods.  They receive two weeks of training in basic construction skills, and then put knowledge into practice helping to renovate some of CityHousing’s units over the course of six months.  The improvements allow the units, vacant due to disrepair, to eventually be used again as social housing.

One of CHHIP’s goals is to break down barriers to quality employment training opportunities. Along with providing the practical short-term supports that are often needed to work in construction– things like boots, a hard hat and a bus pass to get to the site – CHHIP also helps participants look to the longer term.  It offers the opportunity to obtain high school credits and connects participants with resume preparation, job search and employment counselling services once the program is completed.

There’s also an intrinsic value to the work, as participants have reported increased self-worth and self-confidence to enter the job market. As participant Robin Pringle recently told the CBC, “you get to see your hard work at the end of the day and you can say ‘look at what I did’.  And that’s a good feeling.”


Excerpt from Legacy Fall newsletter


Positive spaces, leadership training and employment preparation are giving youth in priority neighbourhoods a leg up through the HCF-supported Growing Youth Leaders project.

The project is a partnership between the City of Hamilton’s recreation division and Riverdale and McQuesten neighbourhood residents and community development workers. The goal is to provide local youth with the necessary experience and skills to gain employment including recreational programming and leadership training and certification.

Research from the Social Planning & Research Council underscores the importance of this project:  youth is Hamilton’s fastest growing population, but many face issues associated with poverty including not completing high school and longer-term unemployment.  Job training, experience and opportunities help to address these risks.

Thirty-five hours of instruction including first-aid training, employment readiness and principles of healthy child development are designed to introduce youth to jobs in recreation and to build new skills. Participants have the opportunity to volunteer in a City of Hamilton rec centre, and all program graduates of are guaranteed an interview for paid recreation positions with the City.


Excerpt from Summer 2016 Legacy newsletter

Hitting the right note

An HCF grant is striking a chord in support of Sinfonia Ancaster’s inaugural concert season and orchestral programming.

Sinfonia Ancaster was born out of the music department program at Redeemer University and is now a part of the Ancaster Society of Performing Arts. The orchestra, consisting of 35 professional and emerging musicians, including students, performs a diverse and rich repertoire. It also serves as a mentoring program for young musicians who learn and develop their skills with guidance from professional musicians. Two priorities for the orchestra are to feature local talent as soloists and to present performances jointly with other community groups.


Excerpt from Summer 2016 Legacy newsletter

Lifting the load

A diagnosis of serious illness in the family can be devastating – and especially to children. Wellwood Resource Centre is lightening the burden for families in these situations.

With support from an HCF grant, Wellwood is expanding its Kids’ Program which offers practical assistance like door-to-door transportation to its facilities where it provides meals (which the kids help to prepare) and help with homework. Parents also benefit from this kind of support which provides relief and predictability. More than half of Kids’ Program participants live in Hamilton’s priority neighbourhoods.

Emotional and psychological well-being are crucial for young children in these scenarios. Serious illness can touch any family and this program goes a long way to ensure that children in these situations do not feel isolated or overwhelmed.


Excerpt from Summer 2016 Legacy newsletter

Three new loans making a big impact

Sacajawea Non-Profit Housing Inc.

A loan from HCF to Sacajawea Non-Profit Housing Inc. is enabling the organization to buy property where they will build 23 affordable rental apartment units for Aboriginal families. The project is located in an area well-served by transit, schools and services including grocery shopping, government services, parks and an Aboriginal Health Access Centre.

“The indigenous population in Hamilton is growing more quickly than the City’s overall population and the existing units run by Aboriginal providers are geared to families,” said Sacajawea Executive Director, Melanie McAulay. “While more affordable housing is needed for all family types, this building will help address an unmet housing need for singles, couples and small families.”

Sacajawea is a non-profit organization that builds and maintains housing for low- to moderate-income Aboriginal families. With this new building development project, Sacajawea will address a critical gap for one-person and small-family Aboriginal households in Hamilton.


Neighbour to Neighbour Food Centre

Good healthy food is something that everyone should enjoy regardless of income. A new initiative by Neighbour-to-Neighbour is geared towards ensuring that low-income families on the Hamilton Mountain have dignified access to healthy meals. The “community food centre” – the seventh of its kind in Canada – is a welcoming community space that offers a range of programs with healthy food at its core.

Last year Neighbour-to-Neighbour was chosen from among 24 Ontario towns and cities to partner with Community Food Centres of Canada to open a centre. The location at Limeridge Road West is well-placed — Neighbour-to-Neighbour cites some 35 percent of residents in some Mountain neighbourhoods live below the poverty line. A new loan from HCF will help to finance renovations to the facility before it opens as the community food centre.

Although addressing food insecurity is at the heart of this initiative, the community food centre is distinct from a food bank because it involves more than just access to food. It also offers programs for skills development and education around healthy eating. Indeed, the benefits of community food centres are wide-ranging and include improvements in both physical and mental health.


Trillium Housing Inc.

Housing affordability can make a world of difference for families. That’s where Trillium Housing comes in. Trillium is a non-profit organization that creates housing affordability through financing and developing entry-level homes. The Trillium team itself has significant expertise with a combined 100 years of experience in real estate, construction and housing innovation.

A recently approved loan from HCF will allow Trillium Housing to develop a new site with 66 affordable townhouses for families with annual incomes as low as $45,000, an income level below the local median. This new build site represents Trillium Housing’s second Hamilton project with financing from the Hamilton Community Investment Fund.

Of significance to eligible families is the Trillium Mortgage which combines with conventional financing to provide housing affordability, and is payment-free until resale or discharge. Moreover, the value of the mortgage is based on the individual circumstances of income-eligible buyers. This structure provides a simple yet effective way to offer housing affordability to families with eligible income levels.