Spotlight on New Grants (June 2020)

In view of the critical nature of the period through which society is passing, the Board has decided to increase its granting activities. We have joined the Give5 initiative, which calls upon foundations to disburse at least 5% of their endowments instead of the statutory minimum of 3.5%. 

The Trustees of the McConnell Foundation have recently approved the following new grants.  


Focusing social innovation on societal transition 

Support from the Foundation to three organizations will help communities across Canada  address challenges ranging from the future of education and the future of work, to food security and environmental sustainability, using social innovation tools and approaches. 

Social Innovation Canada ($1.92M over three years)

This grant will permit Social Innovation Canada to support a network of local and regional organizations and commence work on a national challenge platform.

Maison de l’innovation sociale ($1.92M over three years)

A grant from the Foundation will enable la MIS to continue leading social innovation collaborations in Quebec, as well as connecting with the rest of Canada.

Systems Change Funders’ Group ($150K)

This grant will support Canadian contributions to a global funder coalition’s annual convenings, quarterly on-line workshops and publications. 


Equitable Transition to a Net Zero Carbon Economy 

The following six proposals support two complementary approaches to advancing a net zero carbon economy:

1) Supporting vulnerable communities to participate in a just transition 

2) Shifting capital investments to finance a just transition 

The third component of the Foundation’s strategy – deep greenhouse gas reductions – will be addressed at an upcoming meeting.

West Coast Environmental Law Research Foundation (WCEL) ($300K over three years)

WCEL’s Climate Law In Our Hands initiative will continue to work with community partners across BC to press local governments to ensure that global fossil fuel companies share local climate costs, and introduce the approach to Ontario. This grant will also enable WCEL to deliver a toolkit to Indigenous communities to help them estimate the costs of climate change. 

Climate Action Network Canada, Réseau Action Climate Canada (CAN-Rac) ($400K over three years) 

With this funding CAN-Rac, a national network of over 120 organizations, will advance the Supporting a Just Transition for all Canadians project, which involves just transition planning across strategic economic and societal sectors. 

Institute for Sustainable Finance (ISF), Queen’s University ($450K over three years)

The ISF offers sustainable finance education programs, research and support for collaboration among governments. This grant will support ISF’s Capital Mobilization Plan and Climate Finance Data Analytics Lab. 

Canada’s Climate Law Initiative (CCLI), University of British Columbia ($450K over three years)

The CCLI educates corporate boards on responsible governance in the era of climate change, with a focus on fiduciary responsibility and climate risk disclosure. A grant from the Foundation will support their Knowledge Mobilization and Policy Hub. 

Shift Action for Pension Wealth (Tides Canada) ($300K over two years)

Shift Action for Pension Wealth will focus on creating a self-sustaining pension holder movement supporting action and accountability by pension funds on climate risk. 

Public Sector Innovation Fund ($750K over three years)

Following on a Public Sector Innovation Fund established in 2017 and administered by the Foundation, the renewed Fund will support public sector innovators and their civil society partners to improve policy and program design.

No. 9 (210K over two years)

No. 9 has developed Imagining My Sustainable Community (IMSC), an innovative classroom program that enables students to work with architects to apply cre­ative think­ing and design to community envi­ron­mental issues. This grant will support bringing IMSC to four additional cities and to establish a complementary online platform. 

Unité de travail pour l’implantation de logement étudiant (UTILE) ($300K over two years)

UTILE is a Montreal-based organization that supports the development of student-led, socially financed, non-profit student housing. This grant will support UTILE to plan new projects in Quebec and begin work in the rest of Canada.

Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC) ($174K over two years)

TREC has developed a community bond model that enables charities and non-profit organizations to raise capital for community priorities. This grant will support efforts to scale TREC’s online delivery model across Canada.

Smart Prosperity Institute ($300K over two years)

A grant from the Foundation will support new strategic work for the Institute in collaboration with The Natural Step Canada, and the revitalization of a network for leaders in the private sector, civil society and Indigenous nations to advance collective action on environmental and economic transition.

Welcome Collective ($125K over two years)

The Welcome Collective supports refugee claimant families in Montreal. This grant will enable the organization to expand its services and evaluate the results.

Solon – Transition Lab ($150K over two years)

Solon’s Transition Lab leads human, social, economic and ecological transition at the neighbourhood level. A grant from the Foundation will assist Solon in sharing its neighbourhood level food security, mobility as a service and local economy innovations.

Saskatchewan Institute of Indian Technology (SIIT) ($250K over two years)

SIIT’s student wraparound service program called SOAR (Student Opportunity, Achievement and Retention) has increased student retention rates from 65% to 96%. This grant will allow SIIT to continue to adapt the SOAR program to the COVID-19 crisis, and advocate for the spread of wrap-around programs of this kind. 

Homewood Research Institute (HRI) (98K over one year)

HRI is a charity dedicated to transforming mental health and addiction treatment through research. This grant will support a project to ensure that widely available mental health apps are rigorously evaluated and the results made available to clinicians and the public.

Making the Shift ($180K over two years) 

Making the Shift, led by former UN Special Rapporteur on The Right to Housing, Leilani Farha, works to improve housing affordability. This grant will support work in partnership with the Canadian Urban Institute to introduce a human-rights based approach to housing strategy at the local government level.

Tides Canada ($240K over two years)

The Coalition for Action on Toxics, a project on Tides Canada’s shared platform, supports collaboration between four leading organizations to advance toxics legislation and policies in Canada. This grant will support the Coalition’s ongoing work.

Maple League Universities – Acadia, Bishop’s, Mount Allison, and St. Francis Xavier University ($100K over one year)

A grant from McConnell’s Re-Code initiative will enhance student learning during COVID-19 by helping to launch a Virtual Maple League Teaching and Learning Centre (V_MLTLC). The V_MLTLC will amplify impact and alleviate pressure on individual institutions by pooling efforts to curate and create resources tailored to the institutional model of Maple League universities and provide pedagogical support to faculty with a focus on online and course design and delivery.

In addition to the above, the Foundation has made a number of grants from the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which is now closed.