Grants and student awards



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: ABACUS+ (Guidelines for ABACUS Liftoff! program for students in Grades 4 and 5 are here.)

This call is for programs that support the overall development of children, focusing on social, emotional and academic learning. Programs must serve students in the middle-school years (Grades 6, 7 and 8) and/or those transitioning into secondary school (Grade 9 and the start of Grade 10).

ABACUS is based on the understanding that students and their families start thinking about life after high school early – during their middle-school years. Another critical period in a student’s academic journey is the transition into secondary school. Students are adapting to a new environment: a larger group of classmates, more teachers, and a semestered way of learning. Research shows that academic success in Grade 9 is a strong predictor of high school completion and post-secondary access.

HCF’s focus is on funding programs serving students who continue to be underserved in the education system. This includes Indigenous, Black and racialized students; Two-Spirit and LGBTQIA+ students; students who are first-generation attenders (i.e. whose parents did not attend post-secondary); and students who are: newcomers, male, have special education needs, have disabilities, have disciplinary records or who are from low-income families. HCF will prioritize programs that take an intersectional approach and are focused on the students’ overall development to meet their unique needs.

The ongoing evolution of ABACUS is integral to our broader education goal to strengthen the equity, wellness and academic achievement of Hamilton students.   

Grants up to a maximum of $65,000 annually are available; organizations may apply for up to two years of funding for their program. Grants are based on a school year and funding will be allocated prior to the September 2022 school year. Funding is also available to support program planning and evaluation costs, as well as year-round programming that aims to retain connections with students and bridge learning gaps over the summer.

Eligibility criteria

Proposal assessment

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: 

Successful applicants will be invited to become part of a Community of Practice and will be expected to participate in evaluation and information-sharing activities as requested by HCF.

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 May 2, 2022 at 5:00 p.m.. Applications will not be accepted after that time.

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