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Gay Lea Foundation announces first round of 2019 grants

Since its creation in 2014, the Gay Lea Foundation has awarded more than $890,000 in grants to more than 40 registered Canadian charities doing important development work in Canada and around the world.

Today, the Foundation announced the 15 registered Canadian charities selected to receive grants in the first of two funding rounds in 2019.

Chosen for their commitment to poverty relief, dedication to the advancement of education and/or purposes beneficial to community development, the 15 grant recipients were selected from a pool of 52 applicant organizations by the Foundation’s 10-member Board of Directors, comprised of Gay Lea Foods employees, shareholders, delegates and directors.

Read on to learn more about these organizations, the unique projects they’ve undertaken to cultivate hope for those who need it most, and how Gay Lea Foods is making a difference for people and families around the world!



Autism Speaks Canada is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families by supporting and working with community partners; enhancing resources and services; increasing understanding, acceptance and inclusion of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.


Canada’s first virtual, multi-faceted online platform created to improve the way the autism community (Canadians with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), families, caregivers, clinicians, researchers, educators, service providers, employers, community partners and policymakers) interacts, disseminates, accesses and utilizes credible information.

Gay Lea Foundation Donation: $7,500 to help build a strong community of ASC CONNECT members (both on and off-line) to share, learn and find support through the platform’s key features including: a navigation system of services and supports; a comprehensive library of resources; community forums, and; opportunities for mentorship support.



Founded in 1984 in response to the famine in Ethiopia, Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief (CPAR) is a non-profit organization working in partnership with health professionals, vulnerable communities, governments and diverse organizations to build healthy communities in Africa.

Project: The “Green Schools Network” (GSN)

Building on the success of earlier CPAR programming that saw the construction of four rainwater harvesting (RWH) tanks adjacent to four partner primary schools in the Kasungu District of Malawi, the Green Schools Network project will see CPAR initiate a range of activities within the schools to improve sanitation and hygiene practices among students, and show students and teachers how to use run-off water from the tanks to grow both fruit and non-fruit trees (to improve nutritional practices and act as windbreaks).

Gay Lea Foundation Donation: $40,000 to provide more than 4,800 students with the required tools and seedlings to plant trees and allow CPAR to provide training in the areas of agriculture, permaculture, groundwater management, environmental protection, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene. Funding from the Foundation will also be used to construct a fifth RWH tank at a primary school in the Kasungu District and enable CPAR to work with primary school administrators to create linkages between the five partner community schools.



Together with network partners, staff and volunteers, Community Care serves more than 9,000 clients across the City of Kawartha Lakes (CKL) annually by delivering home and community supports, health and wellness programs and hospice services in more than 75 sites across the communities that make up the CKL, many in rural and remote settings.

 Project: Community Care Specialized Transportation Services

With no accessible public transportation for people with disabilities between communities, Community Care’s Transportation Services provides accessible, reliable and affordable transportation for older adults and people with disabilities in CKL (close to 62,000 rides per year).

Gay Lea Foundation Donation: $8,000 to support the purchase of a new, commercial retrofitted vehicle that meets safety standards for wheelchairs and stretchers, enabling the replacement an older vehicle that requires costly and frequent repairs.



Community Living North Halton works in partnership with families and communities to provide supports and services for more than 500 children and adults with developmental disabilities in north Halton.

Project: Saturday Centre Program

Offered twice a month during the school year at five different sites across north Halton, the Saturday Centre Program is an enjoyable and friendly recreation program for children and youth with developmental disabilities, aged five -21 years. The program currently has a long wait list.

Gay Lea Foundation Donation: $5,000 to support the required staffing and program set-up costs, including arts and crafts supplies, sports equipment along with others.



Diabetes Canada leads the fight against diabetes in Canada. Active in more than 150 communities across the country, the organization works to works to build awareness of the disease and its implications, prevent its onset and consequences, and help those affected live healthy lives by supporting them through research, advocacy, education and services.

Project: Camp Jean Nelson

 As the only summer camp in Alberta for children with type 1 diabetes, Camp Jean Nelson provides children living with type 1 diabetes the opportunity to enjoy an authentic summer camp experience in a medically accommodating environment.

Gay Lea Foundation Donation: $7,500 to support direct program expenses for Camp Jean Nelson and its campers, allowing the camp to continue operating on a subsidized fee model that allows children from all economic backgrounds to attend.



Established in 1980, FIDA and its working arm in Haiti provide resources to men and women in poor rural communities who are motivated to advance themselves economically by forming productive agricultural co-operatives. The organization currently partners with 27 co-operatives, representing over 12,000 members, to provide services ranging from training in co-operative management and sustainable agriculture/environmental practices to literacy, numeracy and other value-added educational programs.

Project: The Kreyòl Garden

The Kreyòl Garden is an industry-driven agroforestry model for short- and long-term agricultural revitalization in the Grand’Anse Department of Haiti, a once highly agriculturally productive area that experienced extreme devastation following Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Targeting approximately 3,000 members of three agricultural co-operatives and directly impacting more than 15,000 men, women and children, the model aims to repair environmental damage and introduce a sustainable solution to improve food security and provide increased income to farmers.

Gay Lea Foundation Donation: $40,000 over two years to support the second and third years of the three-year project, which will see continuing crop trials, the addition of a tree nursery for fruit and forest trees, the installation of new farming systems such as drip irrigation, and the incorporation of new fertilization techniques.



A network of neighbourhood groups, sponsoring agencies and program partners that brings their collective resources together to share information, provide support to meet the needs of children, youth and families, distribute available funding and advocate for community issues.

Project: Brant Ave Neighbourhood Group Food Pantry

The Brant Avenue Neighbourhood Group is an organization of community members committed to providing support and service for all members of the Brant Ave Neighbourhood in Guelph, strengthening individuals and families, and ensuring healthy growth and development for every child. The organization’s food pantry is regularly accessed by 152 families and more than 200 children per month.

Gay Lea Foundation Donation: $12,000 to keep the pantry and fridge stocked with fresh and non-perishable food for one year.



Launch Pad Youth Activity and Technology Centre (Launch Pad) is a unique skills development centre in Hanover, Ontario that helps youth aged 12-18 identify career interests and build their skills to fill vacant job positions in the Bruce-Grey area. The programs, taught by current or retired industry professionals, ensure a strong connection between Launch Pad’s training and current industry needs, all the while keeping young people employed and engaged in the rural community.

Project: Woodworking and Construction Training

With their current trades-based development programs at maximum capacity, Launch Pad was ready to add another skilled trade to their repertoire. The new woodworking programs will see participants learn principles of the trade, equipment operation and health and safety best practices.  Youth participating will also receive support in resume building, continuing education, and life skills. Youth at the intermediate and advanced levels will be matched to local employers for apprenticeship and job opportunities.

Gay Lea Foundation Donation: $10,000 to conduct minor renovations in the centre’s garage/commercial woodshop, including electrical upgrades to handle the woodworking machinery, the installation of a dust collection system for health and safety, as well as insulation so the space can be used year-round.



Founded in 1998, the New Haven Learning Centre is committed to the treatment and education of children and adults with autism and related disorders, focusing on interventions and support to help improve the quality of life for those affected.

Project: IMPACT Vocational Training Program

The IMPACT Program is designed to help break down barriers for people with developmental disabilities by helping them prepare for and obtain employment in their communities. The program includes pre-employment workshops, health and safety training, resume help, wage-subsidized work placements and job coaching support.

Gay Lea Foundation Donation: After Gay Lea Foods’ successful participation in New Haven’s 2017-2018 IMPACT work placement program, the Gay Lea Foundation was pleased to provide $20,520 to support the continuation of this valuable program in 2019.



From securing fresh and healthy food sources to driving change through policy research and innovative programming, the Ontario Association of Food Banks (Feed Ontario) unites food banks, industry partners, and local communities in our work to end hunger and poverty.

Project: Capacity Building Program

The Capacity Building Program provides Ontario Association of Food Banks member food banks with resources and support to grow their capacity to accept, store and distribute fresh food on an ongoing basis to adults and children facing hunger.

Gay Lea Foundation Donation: $20,000 to support capacity improvements at local food banks across Ontario, such as the purchase of new fridges, freezers, or other equipment or facility upgrades required to address the key capacity challenges that limit their ability to provide fresh food and meet the needs of their respective communities.



The Peel Family Education Centre (FEC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to parents and children, and to building stronger families through community-based parent-to-parent education, support and training.

Project: The Parenting in Partnership Program

Working in partnership with local schools in the Peel Region, FEC’s Parenting in Partnership Program provides support to parents through on-site parenting information and support services in select schools, one-night workshops that address targeted parenting concerns or topics, and the facilitation of parent meet-up groups.

Gay Lea Foundation Donation: $10,000 to support the expansion of the Parenting in Partnership Program further into the community in 2019, through the provision of workshops and support at local community centres and libraries where they hope to reach a larger new immigrant population and offer practical parenting information and support.



Shine Through The Rain helps those affected by life-threatening illnesses by providing guidance, support, and financial aid to those in need.

Project: Rural Rainy-Day Grocery & Shelter Program

The Rural Rainy-Day Grocery & Shelter Program addresses some of the unique needs patients face when living in rural areas, such as travel to appointments, parking fees, hotel stays, restaurant meals among others.

Gay Lea Foundation Donation: $5,000 to support the program, which provides between $100 and $1,000 per patient, per year, in the form of grocery gift cards and/or past-due rent and utility payments.



TEMBO Canada works to educate and empower women and girls in the Longido District of Tanzania, an impoverished region in the heart of the Maasai community. The organization’s focus and project work involve education sponsorship, vocational training, micro business loan opportunities, outreach education, and community learning.

Project: TEMBO English Camp (TEC)

TEC is a three-week academic support program for adolescent girls, delivered during the long school break between first and second term in June. Immersed in a supportive English-language learning environment, the girls study core subjects such as biology, geography, and civics while continuing to develop their language, literacy and study skills.

Gay Lea Foundation Donation: $10,000 to support the delivery of the camp in 2019, including the purchase of educational materials, the rental of local facilities and the provision of stipends to local secondary school teachers who will provide small group instructional opportunities and review.



Westview Christian Fellowship is a robust church and community space in the Queenston Neighbourhood of St. Catharines, Ontario.

Project: The Westview Centre4Women

During the week, Westview serves as a resource centre for women, providing group-based services that work to alleviate the effects of poverty, increase resilience and well-being, and build a healthier community. Programs include daycare for preschool children, hot meals, an accessible pantry, laundry services, gardening projects, haircuts, employment and housing services, and classes that help break down barriers and improve quality of life.

Gay Lea Foundation Donation: $6,000 to support the purchase of milk and eggs for the centre’s Plentiful Pantry, which provides low-income women with access to food and household items at a marginal cost. The small amount of funds raised will be used to purchase more milk and eggs, creating a self-supporting way to stock the pantry with these healthy essentials.



Established in 1911, Wilfrid Laurier University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs from campuses in Waterloo, Brantford, Kitchener and Toronto, and aspires to inspire lives of leadership and purpose through its academic programming, research and community outreach.

Projects: The Educator and Leadership Institute (ELI)

The Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Education, in partnership with schools in Haiti and organizations such as Desire2Learn, developed the Educator and Leadership Institute (ELI) in 2016 with a goal to impact student learning outcomes by building teaching and leadership capacity in Haiti. A concentrated summer learning institute led by Canadian instructors provides the primary means for the professional development work, supported by newly developed online resources for teachers and principals that extend the summer learning.

Female STEM Program

An initiative that pairs Haitian female high school and university students with Canadian female high school and university students, to encourage careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Participants spend a week together in the summer learning about each other’s culture, engaging in conversations about leadership in STEM-related fields, and sharing resources.

Gay Lea Foundation Donation: $25,000. $10,000 to support specialized leadership training for 25 Haitian lead instructors who will begin team-teaching with Canadian instructors in 2019, and eventually take over ELI with minimal support from Canadian instructors; $10,000 to support the development and deployment of new online learning resources in Haiti, and; $5,000 to facilitate meetings for female STEM program participants.

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