Redeemer University-Committed to Hamilton

A small group of HCF staff and board members started the day with a discussion over breakfast with new Redeemer President Hubert Krygsman and his leadership team.

Much of the conversation focused on ways in which Redeemer faculty and students are involved in supporting community efforts in Code Red neighbourhoods. Thankfully, Dr. Krygsman shares the enthusiastic commitment of his predecessor (and HCF Board member) Dr. Justin Cooper to build upon Redeemer’s many strong and collaborative community partnerships. It is really encouraging to have the leadership of our three great post-secondary institutions (Mac, Mohawk and Redeemer) so committed to working to find solutions to Hamilton’s challenges.

Let action flow from Scattered Sites

As I listened to the speakers and panelists at this week’s Affordable Housing Flagship / SPRC Scattered Sites event, I was struck by how many of the right people were in attendance: policy makers, housing advocates, funders and both private and non-profit sector housing builders and operators. Right there. In one room.

To those who are familiar with the Affordable Housing Flagship this won’t come as a surprise. The Flagship itself is a community collaborative consisting of over 20 member organizations across the full spectrum of stakeholders in our community.

Scattered Sites provided an opportunity for ideas to be shared, discussed, and debated. Verdiroc Development Corporation shared its experience building and managing social housing projects in Toronto — and beyond. Attendees also heard about an innovative approach from Winnipeg called Pocket Houses that redefine one’s concept of a boarding house and provide an intriguing model for the development of infill sites in Hamilton. For more information see:

Hamilton needs affordable housing. Scattered Sites showcased innovative ideas and approaches and the discussion highlighted how these approaches and others could be adopted to a made in Hamilton solution. Now is the time for the next step: action!

Pick a project. Bring in the right people. And let us collectively work through the challenges so that we can create new affordable housing for this community.

Spec’s Steve Buist Wins Hillman Prize for Code Red

Breaking news…the Spec’s Steve Buist has been awarded the Hillman Foundation’s (New York City) 1st Prize for Canadian journalism for the groundbreaking Code Red series on concentrated poverty in Hamilton. The award recognizes national excellence in social justice reporting. Congratulations to Steve, researcher Neal Johnson and the Hamilton Spectator for making such a profound impact with their work. .Presentation of the award is scheduled for May 19th in NYC and I hope to attend.

Tues March 8 at 7pm — Code Red: Prescription for Healthy Neighbourhoods Speaker Series

The second in the Code Red: Prescription for Healthy Neighbourhoods Speaker Series is scheduled for this Tuesday March 8, 7:00 pm at the Hamilton Spectator Auditorium.

Please plan to come hear Dr. Neil Bradford from the University of Western Ontario, as he explores neighbourhood transformation through “urban development agreements”. These agreements are comprehensive strategies that bring together the resources of all levels of government, businesses and communities to transform neighbourhoods. Dr. Bradford takes stock of the possibilities for Hamilton and asks what could an urban development agreement do for us? And who needs a seat at the table?

Hope to see you there for an interesting and informative presentation and discussion!

To RSVP please email or for more information please see:


Hoop Dreams

OK sports fans…Saturday night at halftime of the Ontario University Basketball Final Four Championship at Mac there is a celebrity 3 point shooting contest. Yours truly will be teamed with an OUAA All-Star and will square off against Ti-Cat Dave Stala, CH’s Ken Welch and some others trying to claim old athlete bragging rights. It’s been 25 years since I last knocked down a 3 pointer playing in a game that counted, but don’t bet against me. Should be fun as long as the paramedics are standing by! Here is a link to one of my favourite Spec columns describing my love of the game.–revelling-in-memories-of-a-lifelong-love-affair-with-basketball

Feds on the right Pathway

Does HCF’s very own Grace Diffey have the ear of the Prime Minister of Canada? Less than two weeks after she blogged about it here in this illustrious forum, the federal government announced today that it is making a $20 million commitment over the next four years to the charitable organization Pathways to Education Canada.

For those not familiar with it, Pathways is a non-profit organization founded in 2001 in the Regent Park community in Toronto “to reduce poverty and its effects by lowering high school drop out rates and increasing access to post-secondary education amongst disadvantaged youth…” Pathways’ approach is to provide support to high school students in four key areas: academic, social, financial, and advocacy, recognizing that support across these areas is far more effective than support in any one area alone.

Pathways has been evaluated and shown to be successful and cost-effective in reducing drop-out rates. It has expanded into other communities – including in Hamilton – with the same promise. And, fresh commitments from the federal government, the provincial government in Manitoba as well as continued support from corporate donors, private philanthropists and community foundations – including the Young Fund at the Hamilton Community Foundation – there is reason to be hopeful that Pathways’ success will be replicated in an ever-increasing number of neighbourhoods across the country.
For more information on Pathways to Education Canada, please see:

For more information on Pathways in Hamilton, please see:


Friday…Can See the Weekend from here!

Good finish to the week. Large turnout of leaders from a cross section of Hamilton’s environmental/social and artistic organizations this morning at Dundurn Coach House to hear Nora Sobolov (Community Forward Fund) and Annette Aquin talk about the potential for HCF’s soon to launch $5M Community Investment Fund to provide innovative financial assistance with the important work that these agencies do.

Finished the morning in a very engaging and animated Code Red panel discussion with the Board of North Hamilton Community Heath Centre along with Spec reporter Steve Buist and Mac’s Jeff Wingard focused on what we can do to improve the health and educational performance of people in our most challenged neighborhoods.

A full day on the speaker’s circuit

A busy Thursday on tap. I will be in Kitchener this afternoon along with Annette Aquin and Bill Young to make a presentation to the Hallman Foundation about social finance generally and HCF’s progress on community investing. I am sure Bill’s infectious enthusiasm for the topic will carry the day while Annette and I attempt to fill in any gaps.  

I then have to hurry back to Hamilton to deliver the Keynote at the opening of the amazing new North Hamilton Community Health Centre where I will recognize the transformative power of hope that the leadership there is providing to a challenged part of our community.

Finally, this evening I get to indulge my love of sports trivia by attending the annual CYO Sports Celebrity Dinner at Hamilton Convention Centre.

Pathways to Education

Tomorrow evening I will be attending the grand opening of the North Hamilton Community Health Centre’s new facility. It will be an exciting moment for so many people associated with the fabulous work done by this organization, not the least of which is introducing Pathways to Education to Hamilton – a program that does what it takes to keep kids in school.

CBC had a great interview this morning with the CEO of Pathways. They started with “a handful of bus tickets and about $2,000,” and have expanded to 11 communities, including ours.  Have a listen:

Ottawa Community Foundation Presentation-Fighting Poverty in Hamilton

Early Tuesday flight to Ottawa to meet and speak to the Board of the Ottawa Community Foundation with a “lessons learned” presentation on HCF’s poverty work in Hamilton. Ottawa is fortunate to have one of Canada’s most progressive Community Foundations under the leadership of a remarkable CEO and Order of Canada recipient, Barb McInnes. Looking forward to a lively exchange of ideas. In a “Six Degrees of Separation” coincidence, the O.C.F. Board is Chaired by Scott Wilson who happens to be the brother of my buddy and former Spec columnist Paul Wilson.