In 2018, the Scaling Impact program provided long-term funding to groups that make our communities, institutions and policies more inclusive. Here is a look at The Citizen Empowerment Project and their work as agents of change:

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    Grantee Spotlight: Citizen Empowerment Project

    2017 Scaling Impact

    The Project

    The Citizen Empowerment Project (CEP) was established in 2014 by racialized youth who came together to foster dialogue about policing issues impacting Toronto. CEP launched

    #JaneandFinchVotes, a nonpartisan voter mobilization campaign and civic engagement workshop series aimed at racialized and newcomer youth aged 14-30.  With the previous two elections (Provincial and Municipal), and the upcoming Federal election, the fund supports CEP to engage newcomers, low-income and racialized youth and families in voter engagement and youth civic engagement processes in Jane and Finch, Rexdale and Cooksville.

    Since receiving the grant:

    The group has formed three Youth Councils: two in Jane & Finch (both north and south side) and one in Rexdale, with youth between the ages of 12-26. They meet on a bi-weekly basis during the school year, and on a weekly basis during the summer months. These meetings are designed to inform participants on current political issues and educate the council members on various aspects of Canadian politics.

    In partnership with Ryerson University, CEP attended an advocacy tour during the US Midterm Elections in Chicago. The group had an opportunity to send two participants and one program lead to meet various politicians, local organizers, community organizations that are doing similar work on a larger scale.

    CEP’s Rexdale Youth Council, in partnership with Yonge Street Mission and Maytree Foundation, is working on a Poverty Reduction Strategy with the City of Toronto. The Youth Council is preparing a community consultation event with the residents of Rexdale to enable them to voice their concerns in the following areas:

    o    food security

    o    transportation

    o    housing stability

    o    employment and services

    Recently, CEP convened a joint council meeting with both sides (north and south) of the Jane & Finch Youth Councils. This is a huge accomplished considering the relationship/history of these two populations. More importantly, following the meeting, the South Jane and Finch Youth Council (18-26) agreed to mentor and take on a leadership role with the North Jane and Finch Youth Council (12-17). As CEP’s mission is to develop community leaders, this opportunity will help the older participants to exercise and develop their leadership skills, while at the same time educating other community members on civic engagement.

    Currently, CEP is building its relationship with Humber College as a way to bridge the gaps between the Rexdale Community and the institution.

The Yellowhead Institute

In 2018, Knowledge Building grants supported powerful advocates for policy and institutional change to address the root causes of inequities. Here's a look at the Yellowhead Institute working to make our communities more inclusive.

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    Grantee Spotlight: YELLOWHEAD INSTITUTE

    Yellowhead Institute is a First Nation-led research centre and think tank at Ryerson University. By prioritizing First Nation philosophy and self-determination, Yellowhead focuses on issues related to land and governance, while creating critical and accessible analysis and education.

    A three year partnership with the Laidlaw Foundation will support the Institute in co-creating a multi-generational mentorship program, with a specific focus on the assertion of jurisdiction over lands and water in First Nation territories in Ontario.

    Over the course of the project, Yellowhead will take a stepped approach to engage youth meaningfully through learning and training opportunities, which will be integrated within the Institute's research agenda. Youth input and experiences will actively inform the processes and outputs of the project in three areas: research and policy analysis, capacity building and knowledge sharing. Moreover, this partnership will cultivate opportunities for both the Yellowhead team and the Laidlaw Foundation to learn lessons that can be applied to future project design, program evaluation and partnership development related to First Nation-led initiatives.

Social Planning Toronto

Social Planning Toronto (STP) is a non-profit, charitable community organization that works to improve equity, social justice and quality of life in Toronto through community capacity building, community education and advocacy, policy research and analysis, and social reporting.

Making Wraparound Supports Available to Incarcerated Youth in Ontario

The Collective Impact to Reduce Incarceration Group, convened and led by the Toronto-based grassroots initiative Nikki Knows, has taken on an important mission: to reduce the number of young people, aged 18-34, who are incarcerated in Ontario.

Helping Hastings County youth to obtain their high school diploma

The Hastings County Youth Collective Impact, one of Youth CI’s largest collaboratives, is aimed at increasing high school graduation rates for youth aged 12-18 and 18-30 in order to reach parity with the provincial average by 2026.

Supporting the Well-Being and Mental Health of Mushkegowuk Youth

One of Youth CI’s newest collectives, Mushkegowuk Youth, has brought together individuals and organizations dedicated to supporting the well-being and mental health of Indigenous youth.


After 10 years under an administrative partner, Amadeusz is now a not-for-profit organization that has built its own systems and infrastructure, giving Amadeusz the foundation it needs to scale up and scale out.

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    Grantee Spotlight: AMADEUSZ

    Through direct education programming, Amadeusz provides high school completion and post secondary courses for youth aged 18-30 held in remand in 3 detention centres in the Greater Toronto Area.  In 2018, Amadeusz serviced 211 youth in remand, graduated 16 new high school grads and delivered 19 post-secondary courses. Amadeusz also engages in research publishing Responding to Neoliberalism: The Case of The Look at my Life Project in Critical Social Work in 2018.

    In July 2018, in partnership with Humber College, Laidlaw Foundation and the City of Toronto's Toronto Youth Equity Strategy, Amadeusz launched a research project titled Look at my Life: ‘SPARKS’ for Firearm Possession Among Young People in Toronto. Based on the recommendations and actions identified through the research, Amadeusz launched and piloted a new project named Project Prosper.  Project Prosper works with youth throughout incarceration and coordinates existing systems to support their transition to create a positive foundation for themselves in community.


Literal Change is dedicated to providing remedial literacy support in vulnerable and marginalized communities across Toronto. It is currently operating in the city’s two major remand facilities, The Toronto East Detention Centre (7 Literacy Teachers, 14 Students) and Toronto South Detention Centre (16 Literacy Teachers, 22 Students). This year, Literal Change is looking to expand its volunteer base in both The Toronto East and Toronto South Detention Centres.

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    Grantee Spotlight: LITERAL CHANGE

    In September 2018, Literal Change launched its Youth Literacy Initiative in the Jane/Finch community which currently has 10 Literacy Teachers and 8 Students. In 2020, the program will be expanded to include Toronto's east-end youth courts, open custody facilities, and additional students in need of remedial literacy support.

    It is estimated that approximately 20% of the mainstream classroom does not learn in the same way as the majority. Literal Change’s volunteer teachers pride themselves on creating positive educational experiences that are individualized and student-centred. The goal is to help each learner reach his/her potential while acquiring the skills and strategies required for navigating a world that is overwhelmingly dominated by print and text.

Aski Kistendamon – Respecting the Land in Attawapiskat

Aski Kistendamon engaged Indigenous youth in cultural activities in order to re-familiarize them with their culture and to encourage youth-driven activities and organization.

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    Grantee Spotlight: Aski Kistendamon – Respecting the Land in Attawapiskat

    As part of the project, a music video was produced showing youth’s land-based activities, including winter ice (net) fishing, spring goose hunt, and food processing on the land. Participants had the opportunity to try out instruments, discuss their experience with the land based activities, express it musically and write lyrics (language of their choice –Cree or English or both). The workshop was filmed and produced into a music video that will be shared with other young people and communities.

    The project also included the creation of a felt art mural. The mural tells Attawapiskat’s stories using the river as the lead continuum. The river flows through three eras the Attawapiskat people have experienced in the last 500 years from pre-contact, through contact, mainly marked by the residential schools, to the present, which also looks into the future, interpreting the meaning of reconciliation.



Brantford Youth Council

Brantford Youth Council hosted a post-election event where elected officials met and greeted a variety of youth action groups and Brantford’s youth population.

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    Grantee Spotlight: MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS - POPUPS 2018 - Brantford Youth Council

    This event was a partnership between Brantford Youth Council, Brantford Boys and Girls Club, and Brant County Health Unit. It was open to the youth and was held at Woodman Park Community Centre.

    The one-night event took place on May 1st but was scheduled to be completed in early January. The group faced many difficulties organizing with the City Council as they were met with many excuses/reasons as to why some councillors could not attend. At one point, they even connected with the Foundation as they were concerned they would not meet the deliverables of their project. Staff provided the group with different ways on how to connect with the councillors, and even provided a few extensions on the project completion date.

    With that being said, the group persevered and became more motivated than ever to have their meet and greet, and more importantly, have their voices heard and possibly make their concerns a priority for the councillors in attendance. The group was very happy with the turnout, although some city officials (including the Mayor) cancelled at the last minute. They did have an opportunity to ask questions to some recently appointed councillors on topics related to youth health and wellbeing.

Northern Indigenous Youth Council (NIYC)

National Indigenous Day Celebration

Central Algoma Secondary School’s (CASS) Northern Indigenous Youth Council (NIYC) members were funded as part of the Indigenous Youth and Community Futures Fund 2019 Cohort.



Since 2008, Youth Leaps has worked in Scarborough within needs improvement areas to develop educational tools and models to increase educational attainment for youth.

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    Grantee Spotlight: YOUTH LEAPS LEARN2WORK!

    Its Learn2Work! Initiative is a response to the needs of young people who dropped out of the education system to join the labour market, only to face more barriers and overwhelming competition. The program provides academic support, skills and job development under one umbrella to support youth who are on Ontario Works to attain high school graduation and find employment.

    The program’s top three outcomes for youth have been the following: decreasing the need for Ontario Works, boosting the self-esteem and confidence of students and increasing youth employability.

    Learn2Work! has so far helped 120 youth to gain access to essential social services and to achieve their educational and employment goals. This on-going program caters, among others, to racialized, low-income youth, single parents, young women, youth in conflict with the law, as well as youth who have not completed high school.


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    News - Irwin Elman to Advise Laidlaw Foundation

    Mr. Elman has been a dedicated advocate for Ontario’s young people for many years and will provide a wealth of insights designed to enhance the Foundation’s impact, public policy and granting efforts. Earlier this year, the Foundation developed a five-year strategic plan that focuses on youth in the education, justice and child welfare systems.

    The Foundation is fortunate to be able to tap into Irwin’s expertise, deep connections to youth at the forefront of theses systems and his years of award-wining advocacy on behalf of young people systemically disadvantaged by those three systems.

Irwin Elman to Advise Laidlaw Foundation

The Laidlaw Foundation is proud to announce that former Ontario Child and Youth Advocate, Irwin Elman will serve as Special Advisor to the Foundation.

The Need for Centralization of Children’s Aid Societies

By: Chaviva Manson-Singer and Saeed Selvam


The stories of 7-year-old Katelynn Sampson and 5-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin are heartbreaking. Both children died while in the care of Children’s Aid Societies (CASs) in Ontario.

Wake Up York Region: Profiling the Voices of York Region Youth Pushed out of the Education System

By: Herleen Arora


In today’s society, higher levels of education attainment leads to greater labour force participation, reduced levels of reliance on income support programs, and higher earnings. In addition, there are an increased number of social benefits including positive health outcomes, civic participation, and community engagement.

The Philanthropic Community’s Declaration of Action

The Philanthropic Community’s Declaration of Action is a call to action inviting others to join in moving forward in an atmosphere of understanding, dignity and respect towards the shared goal of reconciliation.

Laidlaw Foundation is a proud signatory of the Declaration.

Foundation House – What’s all the buzz about?

Laidlaw Foundation is proud to be a founding member of Foundation House, a groundbreaking spatial experiment that brings together like-minded organizations in one creative and collaborative space.

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    News - Foundation House – What’s all the buzz about?

    Laidlaw will join the Counselling Foundation of Canada and the Lawson Foundation in the new space as of February 19, 2016. In addition to these anchor partners, Foundation House includes Ontario Nonprofit Network, ONN, a highly regarded thought leader in supporting the charitable and not for profit sector and Canadian Environmental Grantmakers Network(CEGN). We are also delighted to welcome Community Foundations Canada, Philanthropic Foundation Canada and The Circle on Aboriginal Philanthropy who will have offices in Foundation House.

    Foundation house is not about space sharing, its an idea market place that provides space for random encounters and deliberate collaboration.

    Below are links to three articles on Foundation House that provides a comprehensive overview of the development of Foundation House.