New funding aims at providing "stimulus package" against impact of economic downturn

Hamilton, March 2, 2009 – Hamilton Community Foundation (HCF) today announced $1 million in new grant opportunities to support its ongoing work to reduce poverty in Hamilton. Some $150,000 of the funds will go to responding to needs created by the economic downturn.

The funds represent a second year of granting available through HCF’s Tackling Poverty Together (TPT) program, a five-year, $5 million initiative. The grant opportunities will continue to focus on anti- poverty work in six key neighbourhoods, and broader programs to address systems and policies that prevent people from moving out of poverty.

“Since Hamilton Community Foundation’s focused commitment to this issue started in 2004, we have seen meaningful impact in helping Hamiltonians along the path out of poverty. These new opportunities support work that builds on the successes seen so far,” says Sheree Meredith, Vice-President of Grants and Community Initiatives. “For instance more than 1,200 children received academic and literacy help, through TPT’s first phase. This is a critical poverty prevention strategy, because we know that adults with low literacy are twice as likely to be unemployed. Statistics Canada tells us that each additional year of education a person receives is worth an additional 8.3 percent on their paycheques, and there are also societal benefits in terms of increased labour productivity and GDP.”

Carolyn Milne, HCF’s President and CEO says that reports as of last month, show that over 25,000 people have been reached through TPT, with many positive results. Despite the progress however, she says poverty still remains one of Hamilton’s most critical issues, 
particularly in the current economy. 

“Research, experience and the results show that we need to keep investing in prevention and reduction programs for real and lasting solutions,” says Ms. Milne. “At the same time, we know there are immediate needs created by the downturn, for example, food security, housing and employment. We also know that meeting these basic requirements can be a catalyst to engaging people in other programs such as employment readiness. Accordingly, the Foundation has committed $150,000 to parallel the notion of a ‘stimulus package’ for innovative and practical solutions to these needs.” 

HCF’s $1 million investment into the community will also include funds designated to support ongoing poverty-reduction programs that work within its priorities of youth, education and citizen engagement. These programs will be led by four organizations:  Hamilton-Wentworth and Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Boards, Environment Hamilton, the YMCA’s Youth Engagement and Action Hamilton and Wesley Urban Ministries.

“For example, the funds will enable the school boards to expand programs to high-needs schools across the city,” says Sheree Meredith. “These are programs that help answer basic needs such as nutrition, and also those that level the playing field on things like access to field trips. The grants also help these organizations to expand poverty-reduction strategies that have an environmental impact, such as helping low-income households to reduce heating costs.”

Grant applications are due April 3, 2009, and are reviewed by the Foundation’s TPT advisory committee which is made up of board members and volunteers from a broad range of the public. Decisions will be announced in June.

Hamilton Community Foundation was founded in 1954. Through HCF, donors achieve their philanthropic goals by giving back to their community in ways that mean most to them. HCF also brings people together to convene solutions to Hamilton's most pressing challenges, such as poverty, youth and citizen engagement and environmental protection. HCF has total assets of approximately $120 million and since it was founded, has made grants to our community totalling more than $51 million. Last year, through the generosity of its donors, Hamilton Community Foundation made grants of approximately $6.2 million to Hamilton organizations involved in health, social services, arts, environment, education and recreation.

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For a Backgrounder and a PDF of the press release click here.


CONTACT: 
Sheree Meredith, Vice-President – Grants & Community Initiatives 
Carolyn Milne, President & CEO 
Hamilton Community Foundation 
905-523-5600

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