Rotary Forever Fund

Rotary Forever

The Rotary Club of Hamilton carries out a literacy program at north-end schools, where club members provide reading assistance to students throughout the school year.

The Rotary Club of Hamilton carries out a literacy program at north-end schools, where club members provide reading assistance to students throughout the school year.

Hamilton’s first and largest Rotary Club, with almost a century of putting the Rotary motto of “Service above Self” in practice, has created a way for the club’s good work to be supported in perpetuity.

Of the 12 local clubs, the Downtown Rotary Club has become the first to launch an endowment fund with Hamilton Community Foundation. There are two options for making a gift to the Rotary Forever Fund: as an immediate donation from a living donor, or as a bequest identified in a person’s will. All gifts are pooled and invested. The capital is left untouched and only the investment income is disbursed to support Rotary projects and initiatives, as decided by the club’s Board of Directors.

“With the creation of this fund at HCF, we’re giving people a unique opportunity to leave a legacy that supports the work of Rotary,” says Robert Beres, Club President for 2006­-2007.  “In our club alone we have members with decades of service to Rotary; we can now offer them a way to benefit the club’s projects forever.” In addition, the fund is “open”, meaning that Rotarians and non-Rotarians alike can contribute.

The Downtown Rotary Club still undertakes annual fundraising campaigns and events such as its Hallowe’en Haunted House, or Spring Uncorked, a food and wine tasting event. Monies raised from those and other initiatives help to fund literacy programs and other supports aimed at underprivileged youth.

“Our club has given out an average of $72,000 annually in charitable donations over the past five years, and our members provide hands-on service too, such as helping children at north-end schools learn to read and do math,” explains past president Keith McIntyre. “The endowment fund at HCF is a different vehicle for giving – it allows us to take the long view and build something permanent.”

Excerpt from 2006-2007 Annual Report


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The Lawyers’ Legacy for Children

Lawyer's Legacy

Hamilton’s lawyers have come together as a community to launch a permanent endowment fund to benefit local children. Long known for their individual support of a myriad of causes with their resources and time, Hamilton’s lawyers have chosen to work collectively to build a fund that will have an impact in perpetuity.

“We want this fund to be here to help Hamilton’s children forever,” says Justice Ray Harris, who was the driving force behind efforts to create the fund. “An endowed fund at Hamilton Community Foundation is the perfect way to ensure that.”

The Lawyers’ Legacy for Children is intended to help Hamilton children develop in the spirit of community and generosity that has characterized the contributions of Hamilton’s lawyers. The first grant made was to support autistic children in Hamilton.

The Hamilton Lawyers’ Club agreed to collaborate with HCF to establish the fund and developed the process by which regular grants will be recommended in the future.

The fund’s founding contribution came from the proceeds of the 2006 stage production, ‘Inherit the Wind’, which Justice Harris co-directed with former Theatre Aquarius artistic director Max Reimer. Local lawyers and judges played all the roles, to the delight of Hamilton audiences.

This unique theatre genre – the Lawyers’ Show – originated in Hamilton in 1983 when the Lawyers’ Club produced ‘12 Angry Men’ (also directed by Justice Harris). It has since been widely emulated in support of many worthy causes in communities across Canada and the U.S.

Hamilton’s lawyers and judges have made substantial contributions to augment the fund and are planning another Lawyers’ Show and other fundraising initiatives to build the endowment.

“Thanks to the generosity of Hamilton’s lawyers, this fund will endure for centuries,” says Justice Harris. “It will have a lasting impact that reflects our legal community’s commitment to the community at large and will always be there to help the children.”

Excerpt from 2008-2009 Annual Report


A legacy that continues

Since 2008, 16 grants have been awarded from the Lawyers Legacy Fund supporting important initiatives throughout the community.  The fund continues to grow with the fund capital reaching over $447,000 – truly a legacy that will have impact forever.


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Women 4 Change

Donate or renew your Women 4 Change contribution here.

W4C_Logo_Contribute 2


For all of our latest updates click here to see our winter newsletter.

Check out the most recent research paper that W4C commissioned which provides a current review of gender-specific issues faced by women and girls in Hamilton at all stages in life.

If you are interested in learning more about these events or how to become a W4C contributor, please contact Sheree Meredith

What is Women 4 Change?

Women 4 Change was established in 2012 by a group of local women who came together with HCF in a mission to inspire and enable the women of Hamilton to become leaders in philanthropy, while improving the lives of women and girls in our community through collective giving.

The founders of Women 4 Change envisioned an initiative where contributors would work collaboratively to achieve transformational change. They established a field of interest fund at Hamilton Community Foundation, to which each person contributes annually, as the vehicle through which annual grants to local organizations will be made. Throughout the year a number of educational and social opportunities are provided to enable contributors to learn about philanthropy and the issues they care about. They have established guiding principles to ensure the Women 4 Change initiative grows and develops in a meaningful and informed way.


How will we make a difference?

Women 4 Change’s dual focus on philanthropic leadership among Hamilton’s women, and improving the lives of women and girls in this community, is central to how grants are made and how the contributors are engaged throughout the year. By joining together in these efforts we can create greater impact and work toward our goal of making a difference.

Early research undertaken by Women 4 Change shows that there are women and girls in this community in desperate need of additional supports to thrive. From this research we have included some notable facts below:

  • 16% of people in families in Hamilton whose major income earner was a female lived in low income compared to only 5.1% of persons in households where the major income earner was a male
  • Older women are more than twice as likely to be living in poverty (22%) as older men (10%)
  • Women are underrepresented among Hamilton’s elected officials, at the highest levels of local public sector institutions as well as in the private sector.

Read the full research paper to learn more. The Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton produced the 2010 Women in Poverty report, that may also be of interest along with this report from the Girls Action Foundation. Subsequent studies commissioned by W4C have focused on Women’s Philanthropy and STEM:  Challenges and Opportunities.

Building on this knowledge, early W4C grants have focused on programs that focus on middle school-aged girls, are built on research, have measurable outcomes and aim to:

  • Foster independence and self-confidence
  • Remove barriers to success
  • Promote positive relationships

Read more about the first grant or watch the Girls ONLY video

To date, 18 grants totaling just under $189,000 have been awarded. These have provided the following support:

  • Hamilton Council on Aging, Senior Learning Series
  • Industry Education Council, Computer/Coding Workshop for Mature Women
  • Shalem Mental Health Network, Creating Community One Senior at a Time
  • Social Research Planning Council, Legal Holistic Pilot Program
  • Industry Education Council of Hamilton, Coding Boot Camp for Women
  • YWCA, Good Beginnings Program & Bones Plus
  • Hamilton East Kiwanis Boys’ and Girls’ Club to support a mix of girls-only programs
  • Queen Victoria School, Girls Only Program andGirls Only Camp and McMaster Trip
  • Liberty for Youth, Bright Choices for Girls Program
  • Joseph Immigrant Women’s Centre, Back to School Moms
  • Fit Active Beautiful (FAB) Foundation, Expansion of Riverdale Site
  • Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Foundation, Girls Only Program

In addition, Women 4 Change hosts a breakfast each fall to celebrate the power and potential of women’s philanthropy.  View this short video

How can I get involved?

Supporters of Women 4 Change are asked to make an annual donation of $1,500 ($500 for contributors 40 and under). Donations are split to provide:

  • $1,000 for granting in the current year
  • $350 to build an endowment fund
  • $150 to cover administration of the giving circle

Grants will be made to organizations whose goals match those of the Women 4 Change fund at Hamilton Community Foundation. There will be an annual program of education and other events that all contributors will be invited to attend. The first will be an educational event addressing topics related to improving the lives of women and girls in Hamilton. The second event will share the stories of the organizations and people who are benefiting from the grants. Additional opportunities for involvement may be presented to contributors from time to time as appropriate.

Here’s what some of our current contributors are saying about Women 4 Change:

“The opportunity to create multiple pathways for giving/engaging that inspire women across educational backgrounds, experiences, ages and cultures to share their gifts in ways that are creative, thoughtful and supported by research”

“I am excited to see young women thrive and improve their lives with the support and interest of other women (of any age)”

“To realize I have the ability to help others … to learn that there are many other women who are devoted to philanthropy.  Together we will make a difference”


To learn more please contact Sheree Meredith at Hamilton Community Foundation or call 905-523-5600.

Riverdale Salad Bowl

The Riverdale Salad Bowl is a community solution to provide access to fresh produce and improve food security. We were proud to support the community garden in this great east Hamilton neighbourhood.

Sport hijab – a win for girls

A grant from HCF is helping to put more girls on the playing field by providing sport hijabs to 20 local schools.  For Muslim girls, taking part in athletics can be challenging when wearing a traditional hijab due to the fear that it could fall off, or that the fastening pin could injure a player.  It’s a particular risk in sports like basketball and soccer.  Sport hijabs eliminate these risks with a design that accommodates physical activity. The program, also supported by the Hamilton Muslim Association, will make the hijabs available on loan, just like other sports equipment, helping the girls to enjoy and reap the benefits of more athletic participation both in gym class and on school teams.


Excerpt from Legacy newsletter, Fall 2015

The Dundas InfoSpot

New “one-stop” kiosks are bridging the digital divide and making information more accessible to older adults. Responding to a community need, The Dundas InfoSpot for 55+ is a web-based computer application, curating information about programs and services in an age-friendly format. DundasInfoSpot

Led by the Hamilton Council on Aging, and supported by HCF, InfoSpot draws listings from Information Hamilton’s directory of community services. The kiosks use large touch-screen computers to ensure content readability, and wheelchair/scooter accessibility.  Users can also print their search results in an age-friendly font size.  The kiosks are installed at the Dundas Public Library and the Dundas Lions Memorial Community Centre where volunteers of the Dundas Active 55+ Steering Committee can assist InfoSpot users. In addition, InfoSpot is also accessible online from any computer.


Excerpt from Legacy newsletter, Fall 2015

Sprouting healthy citizens

Community starts early in the McQuesten neighbourhood, and that includes cultivating its young urban farmers through Sprouts Camp. Throughout the summer,  kids from this east Hamilton community attended the camp, focused around the neighbourhood’s urban farm.  McQuesten2 Camp days always included a long visit to the garden, a bounty harvest and a lesson or two about gardening and nature. An HCF grant contributed to the camp’s programming, allowing about 150 neighbourhood  children to participate.

The Urban Farm has started with a community garden and a learning space.  The farm will be fully operational in spring 2016.  Nestled behind the St. Helen Centre on Britannia Avenue, the farm is managed by a group of volunteers and yields a wide range of produce, from tomatoes to potatoes and cantaloupes to ground cherries.

The farm doubled up as a hub of activity for the kids at camp. Aside from harvesting the produce, they learned gardening tips, whether it is recognizing when a cantaloupe is ripe or being aware of harmful bugs. Kids were encouraged to learn and grow by combining recreational activities with hands-on opportunities.

See more Sprouts camp photos in the McQuesten Urban Farm album on Facebook:  HamCommFdn, and read more at


Excerpt from Legacy newsletter, Fall 2015


Home making

Home makingPutting more foundation assets to work in the community is the goal of HCF’s Hamilton Community Investment Fund (HCIF). The fund’s latest loan is a great example.

Early in 2015, HCIF provided mortgage financing to Indwell to build 47 supportive housing units on Main Street East just east of Kenilworth – on a former used car lot. Indwell has a stellar track record in Ontario and enthusiastic support in the local neighbourhood. Its Perkins Centre, across the street, provides 46 affordable bachelor apartments.

The 47 new units are much needed: the City of Hamilton counts 5600 households on its waiting list for affordable social housing.

“Financially,” says Indwell’s executive director, Jeff Neven, “with all levels of government, private donations, and Hamilton Community Foundation’s loan, this is a model that works for building affordable housing. And it’s an important example of the Hamilton community taking care of its most marginalized citizens.”

As a condition of government capital funding, Indwell guarantees that the apartments will remain affordable for 40 years for tenants receiving Ontario Disability Support Program.

HCF’s Executive Vice-President of Finance and Operations, Annette Aquin, is passionate about the HCIF role: “Lending is another tool in the foundation’s tool-chest. The Indwell loan illustrates the power of investing a portion of our assets differently: it’s low risk, high impact recycling of capital to address urgent community needs.”

Excerpt from Legacy newsletter, Spring 2015

The Martin Foundation Fund

Martin Foundation

The Martin Foundation Fund at HCF will continue the charitable legacy established by law partners and siblings Argue Martin (left) and Hubert Martin (right) in 1968.

“Hamilton Community Foundation is the perfect home for the Martin Foundation as we transition to a new phase,” says family member Rosalind Johnston. “The legacy of the Martin family, and the Martin & Martin law firm, continues in Hamilton with this step.”

Argue Martin and Hubert Martin (Rosalind’s uncle and father respectively) were partners of the venerable Hamilton law firm and established the Martin Foundation in 1968 to support charitable causes.  Rosalind was a director of the foundation for more than 30 years, along with Argue’s son-in-law, the late Peter Richardson, and Martin & Martin law partner (now retired) Mary Lou Dingle.

“My father and uncle often favoured organizations that were just starting out, “ Rosalind says “and we concentrated on this area because of our roots in Hamilton. They felt an obligation to give back to the community in many ways.” Over the years, the Martin Foundation has supported hundreds of local organizations in the social services and the arts.

Hamilton Community Foundation was a natural choice as the Martin Foundation considered succession planning. Argue Martin was a founder and first president of HCF and Hubert was also a strong supporter.

“Dad would have loved this arrangement,” Rosalind says of the move to HCF in 2012. “He was a very forward-thinking man.”

Rosalind now sits on the advisory committee for the fund at Hamilton Community Foundation and has input into the grantmaking decisions. But the administrative work is handled by HCF. “This is a perfect solution for the future,” she says. “We used to spend hours poring over requests. Now, Hamilton Community Foundation handles all the applications and paperwork, but we continue to have input into how the money is spent. I’m thrilled.”

Excerpt from 2012-2013 Annual Report


The Mount Hamilton United Church Legacy Fund

Over the past year a number of long-standing organizations, now in transition, have turned to HCF to create a legacy by establishing new fund.

The Mount Hamilton United Church Legacy Fund recognizes the church’s 100 years serving Hamilton until May of this year.  It will continue to give back to the city as part of HCF’s community fund.

Excerpt from Legacy newsletter, Fall 2012