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Gay Lea Foundation announces 11 new charitable grants

The Gay Lea Foundation is pleased to announce 11 new charitable grants totaling more than $190,000 in support for projects enhancing education, poverty relief, co-operative development and community well-being in Canada, Africa, and South Asia.

The projects were selected by the Foundation’s Board of Directors – comprised of Gay Lea Foods employees, members, delegates, and directors – as the co-operative celebrated Co-op Week from October 17-23.

“The Gay Lea Foundation was born from our co-operative values at Gay Lea Foods as well as a collective desire among our employees and shareholders to give back to communities,” says Foundation chair, Janet Ringelberg. “This year, it was incredibly fitting that we were able to come together during Co-op Week to celebrate the impact our Foundation has made here in Canada and around the world, and to further extend our reach by approving funding for 11 new projects.”

Since its creation in 2014, the Gay Lea Foundation has awarded more than $1.9 Million in charitable grants to more than 110 registered Canadian charities providing important humanitarian supports to communities in in Canada, Haiti, Central America, Asia, and Africa. Funding for the grants is provided by an annual $150,000 contribution from Gay Lea Foods, as well as an elective employee payroll deduction program and organized internal “Co-op Week” activities that regularly raise upward of $100,000 annually for the Foundation and the projects it supports.

Read on to learn more about the 11 latest projects supported by the Gay Lea Foundation.


Africa Community Technical Service (ACTS) Society

The Africa Community Technical Service Society – or “Acts for Water”, as it is commonly known – partners with communities in Uganda to deliver the life-giving benefits of clean water, including hygiene and sanitation, through a specific form of water delivery technology called Gravity Flow Systems (GFS). Visit

Project: Nyakigyera GFS Upgrade

Over 30 years, ACTS has successfully built more than 30 Gravity Flow Systems (GFS) in Uganda, serving hundreds of thousands of people. Now, rather than continuing to only build new GFS, they’ll be going back to some of their original systems to invest in new technology (and taps) that will extend the lifespan and original capacity of the systems, as well as delivering a new framework for sustainability and hygiene health.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $15,000 to support the upgrade and expansion of a 14-year-old GFS in Nyakigyera, Southwestern Uganda as well as the delivery of Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST) training in all catchment communities.


Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario

Working closely with its 28 local branches across the province, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario, is a non-profit, charitable organization committed to improving the lives of all Ontarians through leadership, collaboration, and the continual pursuit of excellence in community-based mental health and addiction services. Visit

Project: The ‘In the Know’ Program

In The Know is an evidence-based mental health literacy training program that aims to build mental health knowledge and increase help-seeking among farmers and the wider agricultural community. Offered free of charge and funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the four-hour training program delivers farmer-centered courses that have been shown to increase participants’ mental health knowledge and confidence in recognizing mental health struggles, speaking about mental health, and helping others who are struggling.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $25,000 to help CMHA Ontario reach over 2,560 farmers across Ontario in the first year of the program (2022) and eventually expand the program to reach every farmer in Ontario.


Canadian Physicians for Aid & Relief (CPAR)

Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief (CPAR) is a registered non-profit organization working in partnership with vulnerable populations and diverse organizations to overcome poverty and build healthy communities in Africa. Visit

Project: Green Schools: A Lasting Legacy

As a founding donor of The Green Schools Project, the Gay Lea Foundation was instrumental in providing almost 5,000 students in schools in Malawi with clean water, hands-on learning in sustainable agriculture, and essential lessons in health in 2019. Two years later, enhanced student engagement through school-based Agriculture Clubs is viewed as a critical source of knowledge transfer and generational transition for the project.

Gay Lea Foundation Donation: $25,000 to create a student engagement program that will continue to teach permaculture, soil conservation and sustainable agriculture practices while empowering students to put their learning into action through home and community-based gardens, as well as initiate activities that can pass knowledge to the younger students who will follow them.



CODE works with local civil society organizations and ministries of education to enhance education and improve children’s literacy in some of the poorest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Their mission is to enable student learning by increasing access to qualified educators and locally relevant, high quality learning materials. Visit

Project: Supporting Better Schools

After working with local partners and Mozambique’s Ministry of Education and Human Development for more than two decades, CODE has seen the dramatic impact of COVID-19 worsen poverty and erode hard won education system gains in the southern African nation. Through the Supporting Better Schools initiative, CODE will provide much-needed material support to 62 under-resourced primary schools across four provinces to ensure the gains achieved over the past 20 years are not completely eroded.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $15,750 to supply five schools in Mozambique with kits that contain locally procured school supplies, books, learning resources and hygiene items.


Community Living Huntsville

Community Living Huntsville is a not-for-profit, registered charity that supports and advocates alongside children and adults with developmental disabilities to live, work and play in unique and purposeful ways as respected and valued members of an inclusive community. Visit

Project: The Pathways Program

The Pathways Program offers youth and adults with developmental disabilities, who are deemed ineligible for Developmental Services Ontario-funded supports or waitlisted for funds, free access to a specially trained program coordinator to help them set goals, connect with community, strengthen personal networks, become stronger self-advocates, and navigate supports based on what matters to them. People can explore housing options, employment, education, lifelong-learning, spirituality, recreation and leisure, volunteerism, and more to build the life they want with the coordinator’s support.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $15,000 to support the sustainability and growth of the Pathways Program now and into the future.


Nanny Angel Network

The Nanny Angel Network (NAN) was founded in 2009 to provide carefully vetted, trained, and matched volunteer caregivers (‘Nanny Angels’) for moms undergoing cancer treatment in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Since that time, the charity has evolved to provide a range of free programming to help children in the GTA and Kingston navigate their mom’s cancer journey, including specialized in-home childcare, virtual activity and homework support, peer-support, meal support, and more. Visit

Project: Program Expansion, Hamilton, Ontario

Cancer rates in Hamilton are higher than the provincial average and health-care professionals in the area have reached out to Nanny Angel Network to request that the charity expand its programs and services to local families in need.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $15,000 to help NAN expand its reach and bring its suite of proven support programs to Hamilton-area families impacted by cancer.


Teach for Canada

Teach For Canada works with First Nations education leaders, principals, teachers, and others to recruit, select, prepare, and support teachers to be successful in northern First Nations. Their overall goal is to support student success and close the education gap that exists between First Nations and non-First Nations communities. Visit

Project: 2021-22 Principal Recruitment & Retention Programming

As a direct response to community requests, Teach For Canada’s 2021-22 Principal Recruitment & Retention Programming will build upon the success of last year’s Principal Support Program to help further stabilize school environments and increase student success through ongoing recruitment, training and support programming for principals.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $25,000 to help support principals and aspiring principals across 25 First Nations in northern Ontario and Manitoba during the 2020-2021 school year.


Tanzania Education and Micro-Business Opportunity (TEMBO)

TEMBO Canada is a registered Canadian charity that supports educational and micro business opportunities for women and girls in the Longido District of northern Tanzania, a rural area in the heart of the Maasai community that is home to some of the country’s poorest people. Visit

Project: The Girl Care Program

While enrollment in secondary school is a critical first step for girls in northern Tanzania, many continue to live in the precarious balance between marriage and education. In response, TEMBO has developed the Girl Care program, a 24-hour care program for TEMBO-sponsored girls who face significant hardship while they are completing their secondary school education. Participants stay in the TEMBO Girls’ Hostel before, during and/or after the school year while a team of support staff ensures they are actively involved in skills development and education.

Gay Lea Foundation Donation: $7,000 to cover the cost of the Girl Care program for one calendar year (2022), including school supplies, program activities, food, medicine and first aid supplies, bedding toiletries, and staffing.


Thrive for Good

Thrive For Good is a Canadian-based not-for-profit charity that provides organic agricultural and nutrition training and development programs to people across three continents of the world. Visit

Project: Life Gardens

Thrive’s approach involves training and equipping communities to create sustainable “Life Gardens”, so they can grow their health, step out of poverty, and teach others to do the same. Now, in partnership with Gateway – a global organization that has part­nered with com­mu­ni­ties in Asia for more than twenty years through var­i­ous social devel­op­ment pro­grams – Thrive is bringing their innovative agriculture, nutrition, and health curriculum to India for the very first time.

Gay Lea Foundation grant:  $23,130 to train more than 400 Growing Health Champions in India who will cascade training and launch Life Gardens to people in more than 1,800 communities.


West Village Community Development Co-operative

The West Village Community Development Co-operative began more than 20 years ago as a volunteer group of neighbours who came together to develop programming for poor or disadvantaged children and youth. Now formally incorporated, the not-for-profit Community Development Co-operative works to engage residents in this priority neighbourhood and build community connections between people, their environment, and the local economy. Visit

Project: The Village Garden

The Village Garden project will transform half an acre on Westwood Road into community garden plots in order to reduce pressure on household budgets and provide access to safe nutritious food for more than 250 vulnerable adults and children in the West Willow Neighbourhood. As the garden ‘grows’, the co-op will provide skill development opportunities, gardening knowledge, food literacy, and food transformation skills training.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $5,000 to fund the purchase of two water tanks, gardening tools, plants for the perennial food fence that surrounds the garden, and plants for families unable to afford seedlings.


World Neighbours Canada Society

World Neighbours Canada Society (WNC) supports impoverished communities in Nepal, Burkina Faso, and Honduras through programming that leads people to analyze and solve their own problems, and the facilitation of work by local partners to carry out those solutions for widespread systemic benefit. Visit

Project: Ramechhap Water & Sanitation Program, Nepal

For more than 30 years, World Neighbours Canada has worked with local partners Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti (TSS) to alleviate poverty and increase self-reliance in the rural Ramechhap District of Nepal. In that time, they have helped village groups organize themselves to design, install, and maintain more than 180 gravity-fed water systems to bring clean, safe water to their communities. In the first half of 2022, they hope to facilitate the construction of an additional two to three water systems to provide clean water close to home for approximately 200 families and three schools.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $20,000 to support the purchase of materials, pay staff and hired technicians, and train local villagers in the construction and maintenance of the water system.

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