We entered 2021 hopeful and optimistic after a year of so much uncertainty. We were ready to face new challenges, to support more solutions and begin facing our new normal. COVID-19 vaccinations were rolled out and we took slow but sure steps to reopening.
However, as the year progressed and new waves of different COVID-19 variants appeared in our community and in others coast-to-coast, we adjusted. We consistently pivoted but through it all, we continued supporting your charitable goals, the needs of our charitable sector and the people in our community.
At The Foundation, we engaged in another year of remote work, remote programming and remote events but together with our volunteers, Fundholders and donors, we were able to accomplish a number of exciting initiatives and fund important solutions. If anything, the pandemic has shown us how important it is to continue to work together.
Our 2021 Business Plan began a fundamental shift to align our work to the United Nations Social Development Goals (SDGs). With three major SDG-aligned priorities, The Foundation envisions a community where no one is left behind.
The year was filled with many changes, challenges and successes. To meet our priority of local opportunities in Education, Employment and Training, our Community Education Awards Hub increased in funding by over $30,000 through new Foundation Fundholder awards and increased its users by 37%. This program supports both local students and organizations offering scholarships, bursaries and educational awards in a time of virtual learning. The same is true for Community Classroom, which continued another year of online programming, free for students and teachers in publicly-funded schools in Oakville.
We thanked Brian Hanna for his tireless work through uncharted territory at our May Annual General meeting, as Bindu stepped into the role of Board Chair. The same evening, we hosted Oakville-raised Olympian Donovan Bailey to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his Gold Medal wins at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games as part of Pass the Baton Canada.
In the summer, together with a number of community partners, we published Living Your Best Life: A Report on the Vitality of Older Adults in Our Communities. The report looked at what aging is like in our communities and highlighted a number of striking statistics and areas for improvement. It was our first multimedia report, including both video and written components, which we think is a great model for future reports. This research culminated in the funding of new park equipment for older adults at Memorial Park, with the Rotary Clubs of Oakville.
We have continued to listen and learn from our neighbours, our local organizations and others to educate not only ourselves but those around us and meet our priority to reduce inequities in our operations and our communities.
Together with Enable Education, we created a new educational course to help charitable organizations improve their DEI knowledge and awareness. To improve our own DEI efforts, we introduced a new top-up program during our 2021 GIVEOakville campaign that allocated 15% of top-up dollars to BIPOC-led and gender equity organizations.
As part of our continuing journey to Truth and Reconciliation, together, with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and Elder Peter Schuler, we launched Debwewin: The Oakville Truth Project to put a focus on having conversations around the truth of Oakville’s past.
“What better place to begin to seek the truth than your own local community?”
Our third priority of Community Resiliency and Charitable Sector Recovery is crystalized in innovative solutions to problems in our community. We stepped up as a funder when no one else was able to, providing our first microloan to assist a charity that needed a new air conditioner to continue their programming. We were able to close this gap with the help of our Fundholders and implement this pilot as a new initiative in our 2022 programming.
Our membership within Community Foundations of Canada continues to afford our community and local charitable organizations the opportunity to apply for national funding programs. This included the Gender Equality Fund, the Investment Readiness Program and the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative. This connection, and our connection to other community foundations across Canada, continues to be an invaluable asset.
After a rollercoaster year in 2020, our investments closed at +14.3% in 2021 which helped our Fundholders meet their granting priorities and the charity agencies co-invested in our Investment Pool meet their budgets. The Foundation granted more than $4 million throughout the year. In addition to this granting, we also stewarded $1.8 million through two rounds of granting for the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative.
We are grateful to our staff, committee and board members, volunteers and Fundholders for their tireless work in making Oakville a community where no one is left behind.