Grants and student awards

New: ABACUS Liftoff!

New: ABACUS Liftoff!

ABACUS, a collaborative initiative of Hamilton Community Foundation and The Fairmont Foundation, is a 10-year commitment to education. Its goal is to increase the likelihood that young people facing multiple barriers graduate high school and access postsecondary education, by focusing on the pivotal middle-school years.

Two new granting calls will close May 2, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. for programs that run in the 2022-23 school year. There will be an information session March 10, 2022 for organizations to learn more about the programs and applying to them.

Each of these calls reflects a refocusing of ABACUS to address particular needs uncovered through the Foundation’s research, experience and community consultation, including input from grantees. In particular, the refinements include an increased focus on the transition to high school, reading and numeracy in the earlier years, overall social and emotional wellness, and addressing the needs of students historically underserved in the education system.

Application guidelines for ABACUS Liftoff! Grades 4 and 5 pilot (Guidelines for the ABACUS+ program for students in Grades 6-8 and transition through Grade 9 and into Grade 10 are here)

This call is for programs that support children in Grades 4 and 5 to address reading acquisition and numeracy.  It is our hope that by doing so, students will be better prepared to transition into the critical middle school years.

Every summer, children forget some of what they learned during the previous school year. But now, because of increased interruptions to their learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, experts are warning that students are struggling even more. Students who already face barriers to education (e.g. racialized students, newcomer students, first-generation students, students with disabilities) are facing increased barriers and are struggling the most.

Hamilton Community Foundation’s research, experience and learning gained through ABACUS has reaffirmed that student wellness is central to their academic achievement. The need to focus on students who are already underserved by the education system is equally important. Equity, wellness and academic achievement are three key ingredients to a student achieving their learning goals. A “whole child approach,” one that focuses on a student’s overall development – not just their academic achievement, but their mental, emotional, physical health —  is central, especially at a time like this.

Grants up to a maximum of $25,000 for one year will be available to support initiatives addressing reading acquisition and numeracy for students in Grades 4 and 5.

Eligibility criteria

Proposal assessment

The following criteria will be used to assess all applications for support from ABACUS Liftoff!

Applications will be assessed to ensure there is demonstrated capacity and credibility to plan, implement, and evaluate the work. Applicants must also demonstrate sound fiscal policies and a commitment to financial accountability. In addition, the following criteria will be used for assessment:   

For more information on reading acquisition, numeracy and whole-child approach:

For more information about ABACUS please visit:

To apply:

You are required to complete an online application form which can be accessed here as of 1:00 p.m. March 1, 2022.  Please note that the portal will close on May 2, 2022 at 5:00 p.m.. Applications will not be accepted after that time.

For more information, please check our frequently asked questions page. If your question is not covered, please email us at