An inclusive society that values and supports the full engagement of it’s young people in the civic, social, economic and cultural life of diverse and environmentally healthy communities.
Laidlaw Foundation invests in innovative ideas, convenes interested parties, shares its learning and advocates for change in support of young people being healthy, creative and fully engaged citizens.
Tamer Ibrahim - Youth CI Program Manager
Ana Skinner - Program Manager
Veanna Octive - Office Manager
Jehad Aliweiwi - Executive Director
Bétul Keles - Program Manager
Saeed Selvam - Public Policy Manager
Ajeev Bhatia - Program Manager
Hanifa Kassam (President)
Gave Lindo (Vice-Chair)
Paul Fensom (Vice-Chair)
Finance and Audit
Andre Lewis (Chair)
Paul Fensom (Vice-Chair)
Governance and Recruitment
Gave Lindo (Chair)
Derek Ballantyne (Vice-Chair)
May Wong (Chair)
Karen Ng (Vice-Chair)
Lyon Smith (Vice-Chair)
Paul Fensom (Chair)
Derek Ballantyne (Vice Chair)
Youth-Led Community Change Advisory CommittEE
Karen Ng (Chair)
Family Fund Committee
Cameron Laidlaw (Chair)
Indigenous Youth and Community Futures Fund Advisory Committee
Similarly, one of our biggest achievements of 2017 was the development of an Indigenous engagement strategy, guided by a remarkable and diverse group of young community advisors. We’ve committed to having both a dedicated fund for Indigenous youth and ensuring we are investing in Indigenous-led projects across all of our funding streams.
We also welcomed, Saeed Selvam, the foundation’s first policy manager to build our in-house capacity to effectively engage with policymaking and support systemic change. Moving forward, we will be supporting our grantees’ public policy efforts through funding, training and direct advocacy support on issues related to youth in remand and those in/leaving care. We will also be examining emerging policy issues in the ever-changing youth sector that impact the health and well being of Ontario’s young people which will include dynamic, civic engagement activities.
As well, 2017 saw us renew, for three more years, the successful and innovative Youth Collective Impact (Youth CI) partnership between Laidlaw, the McConnell Foundation’s Innoweave platform and the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Youth CI has evolved as a program on which successful collaboration in service of positive outcomes can be conceived, developed and delivered.
Over the next three years, Youth CI will encompass a range of new and existing services to improve early-stage collaborative development and support youth leaders that want to develop relatively large initiatives with clear goals and strategic outcomes.
2017 was a good year for the Laidlaw Foundation, full of change and progress.
We welcomed a new staff member, improved our granting programs, developed an Indigenous engagement strategy, finalized impact and mission-related investment framework and renewed the Youth Collective Impact strategic partnership with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the McConnell Family Foundation. We made significant improvements to our granting programs: our Board led the process, which created three integrated, more efficient funding streams with clear and simple guidelines
Then beyond grants, considering other ways the Foundation’s financial resources can be made to serve our mission remains a key priority in Laidlaw’s current strategic plan. To that end, Board members last year approved an impact investing policy that allows allocation of endowment capital to vehicles that (as well as generating financial returns) further the Foundation’s social purpose.
Along with all these activities came challenges, of course, which we would be remiss not to acknowledge. These included the length of time it took to finalize the Indigenous strategy. One of our strategic objectives is also to expand the Foundation’s reach, yet many of our activities remain heavily focus on the Greater Toronto Area — even if we are already taking concrete steps to ensure that groups outside the GTA are aware of Laidlaw’s programs and funding opportunities.
But the key to overcoming such obstacles, and at the heart of all progress made last year, was the passion, dedication, talent and leadership of Laidlaw’s staff and Board. For their efforts, we are sincerely grateful. With their help, we are confident that young people will continue achieving amazing things.
So we invite you to read through our annual report, which highlights the creative ways that the Laidlaw team engaged with youth across the province in 2017. We look forward
to hearing your thoughts, and suggestions you may have for improving our work and reach.
Youth leadership and lived experiences are at the centre of our decision-making processes. We learn from the communities we work with and listen to what young people have to say. We know that young people are knowledgeable about the challenges they face and have clear insights on how to respond.
We take their lead and we do not shy away from the
critical issues they raise. Our granting approach embeds the following principles:
• is grounded in the experiences and insights of young people and their allies;
• confronts and works to dismantle systemic barriers to access and inclusion;
• supports strategies that are forward thinking, scalable, and results-oriented;
• is focused on systemic change while responding to immediate community priorities; and
• is evidence-based and builds on effective approaches and practices.
1. Our new funding streams enable us to support a wide range of activities from youth-led groups testing out new ideas to tackle their community challenges to scaling up their impactful strategies. As well, we’re funding research, knowledge building and knowledge sharing projects.
2. As part of our commitment to reconciliation, we developed an Indigenous Strategy, which then led to the development of an Indigenous Advisory Committee, who then designed the Indigenous Youth and Community Futures Fund. The Fund is currently supporting Indigenous youth to connect with their land, languages and cultures.
3. We renewed our partnership with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and Innoweave, to support Youth Collective Impact (Youth CI), with the addition of funding and training specific to grassroots youth groups interested in learning collective impact tools to further their work.
4. We increased our internal capacity to support our grantees to engage with advocacy and policy work, including hosting workshops and offering one-on-one supports. We’ve also identified specific issue areas where the Foundation will focus its policy-change efforts.
Indigenous Youth and
Community Futures Fund
The IYCFF is an example of how we are grounding our work in the recommendations by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and acting on our commitment to the Philanthropic Community’s Declaration of Action in a very tangible way. Taking our lead from our Indigenous Advisory Committee, made up of eight Indigenous young people, we designed a funding stream that is centered around connecting Indigenous young people to their land, languages and cultures; strengthening relationships within and across communities; and supporting the transmission of traditional knowledge to future generations.
The Fund is a significant commitment, but we know that this is only a start. And there is more to our engagement and learning strategy than the Fund! You will find below a brief overview of the process that led to the development of the strategy. We hope that it inspires other colleagues who are seeking to play an active role in accelerating the TRC’s calls to action and to realize their commitment to the Declaration of Action.
11 Projects Funded
Attawapiskat Aski Kistendamon
Eagle Lake First Nation Youth Council
Naotkamegwanning Youth Council
Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation
Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre
People Acquiring Life Skills
Tkaronto 2 Spirit Change Makers
The Traditional Men’s Health
and Wellness Group
The Wolves Den
Nestor Falls, ON
Serpent River, ON
Elliot Lake, ON
Batchawana, Garden River, Thassalon, Missisaugi, Serpent River, Sagamok, Whitefish
GRANTEE SPOTLIGHT: Dwadewayehsta’ Gayogohono’- Moving the Cayuga Language Forward
Cayuga is one of the indigenous languages that are close to extinction with less than 40 first language Cayuga speakers around the world. Dwadewayehsta’ Gayogohono’ has been providing Cayuga language learning opportunities within the Six Nations of the Grand River in southern Ontario since 2005. This grant will support the group to develop and execute a two-year Cayuga language immersion program. Following the American Council for Teaching Foreign Languages guidelines for speaking, the program will offer many opportunities to those who want to connect with their language and/or advance their skills while targeting young people living on the reserve.
“We have seen positive impacts individuals feel when they are able to understand and speak their own language. There is a really hard reality that we as Indigenous people feel when we talk about the horrific history and treatment we are still subject to today. Yet, we are still here and able to work towards a brighter path for our people. The youth of our community are clamouring to know their roots and we are here to provide learning opportunities to them”.
GRANTEE SPOTLIGHT: Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation - Onigaming Walking/Hiking Trails
This project, located in the community of Onigaming, will support Indigenous youth to build hiking trails around the community and identify medicinal plants along these trails through the guidance of their Elders and in collaboration with Mikinaak School.
“This project is important to us because we will be taking care of our land. It will show the beauty of our community that we call home. We believe connecting young people to the land is an important way of connecting them to their cultural identity and what it means to be Anishinaabeg”.
Youth-Led Community Change Program
(In 2018, the Youth-Led Community Change Program will be funded under our Youth Direct Action grant.)
The Foundation provides funding to youth-led groups across Ontario to identify issues that are affecting their communities and implement projects that catalyze change and bring awareness to their experiences.
20 Projects Funded
East Scarborough Storefront
Canadian Council for Refugees
Beausoleil First Nation Youth Council
Black Lives Matter Toronto c/o Children’s Peace Theatre
Naadmaagit Ki-Ningo c/o Tides Canada
Learning Disabilities Association of York Region
Mno Wiisini Gitigaanan/Tides Canada
National Youth In Care Network
NGEN Youth Centre
Youth Sexual Health Advisory Committe\e / AIDS Committee of C/K/W
Youth Social Infrastructure Collaborative / Children’s Peace Theatre
Get Out There
Healing Through Art
Ontario Indigenous Youth Partnership Program/ Tides Canada
Christian Island, ON
Greater Toronto Area
York Region, ON
Greater Toronto Area
Greater Toronto Area and Northern ON
Greater Toronto Area
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Waterloo, ON, Kitchener, ON, Cambridge, ON
Thunder Bay, ON, Algoma, ON
Elgin County, ON
Youth Sector Innovation
Youth Sector Innovation grants enable the Foundation to invest in innovative projects in the youth sector, engage in collaborative funding and expand its reach. The primary focus is on working with new partners, unusual suspects, and through collaborative efforts, to expand the reach and impact of the Foundation’s work.
4 Projects Funded
(In 2018, the Youth Sector Innovation activities will be covered under our Youth Direct Action grant)
4Rs Youth Movement
Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion
Thinking Rock Community Arts
Youth Sector Innovation pop-ups
PopUps are micro-grants developed under the Youth Sector Innovation stream. They are designed to address issues that the Foundation wants to bring greater attention to. In 2017, there were two focuses for our PopUp grants:
1) Resilience 150
2) Amplifying Grassroots Youth Organizing
Resilience 150 PopUp
To give voice to alternative narratives and actions during this contentious year, we offered grants of up to $1000 to support projects that celebrate Indigenous resilience and resistance on this land. These grants supported opportunities for learning, reflection and relationship building that strengthen community efforts to ensure the stories, experiences, and priorities of Indigenous voices are not drowned out by fireworks and festivities in the year of Canada’s 150th birthday.
38 Projects Funded
Birchmount Community Action Council
Creatively Meeting Each Other Where We Are
Egale Canada Human Rights Trust
Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre
Grand Arts Project
Strengthening Hamilton’s Aboriginal Education
Six Nations Youth Council
Wahnapitae First Nation
Amjiwnaang Water Gathering and Toxic Tour
Assembly of Seven Generations
Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians
Barrie Native Friendship Centre
Biindigen Healing and Arts
The Canadian Canoe Museum
Davenport - Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre
Onaman Collective Youth Group
Fort Albany First Nation
Indigenous Student Association of Glendon
Making Sense of Place, Making Sense of Movement/Governing Council for the University of Toronto
McMaster Indigenous Student Community Alliance
Native Canadian Centre of Toronto
Newcomer Student Association of Ryerson
Paprika Theatre Festival
Strong as a Mother
Sexual Assault Centre of Brant
Tsi Kionhnheht ne Onkwawenna Language Circle
Two Spirit Youth; Identity, Traditional Knowledges and Community Service Needs
Walking with our Sisters Toronto
Yotuni Social Enterprise
Richmond Hill, ON
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Thunder Bay, ON
Elliot Lake, ON
Fort Albany, ON
Tyendinaga Territory, ON
Grantee Spotlight: The Aamjiwnaang Water Gathering and Toxic Tour
Organized by Indigenous youth who are strongly connected to Indigenous frontline environ-mental struggles in Sarnia, this event was a celebration of the resilience of the waters and the youth, for persisting through hundreds of years of violence. Aamjiwnaang Water Gathering was a two day event at Maawn Doosh Gumig (the community centre at Aamjiwnaang). The event featured ceremonies, classes, Toxic Tours (a complete tour, history, information session of Chemical Valley), music, and much more that promote learning and celebrating the sacredness of water. The goal of this event was to unify everyone to protect and keep water clean and sacred.
The two-day event wrapped up in late 2017 and was considered a huge success for the community and organizers. The event collaborated with a dozen partners including environmental advocacy groups, research groups and local farmers to offer educational workshops, ceremony, and water walks where community members held signs and banners as the toured the toxic bodies of water polluted by local oil corporations and factories. Youth were bussed in from across Ontario, including youth from the GTA. The event had approximately 150 community members participate.
“Our organization has very little stable/continued funding on a yearly basis. We rely on community financial support and fundraising. Having the grant of 1000$ secured meant that we could focus on other aspects of organizing, mostly including programming and educational opportunities. This led to an increase in programming, crafts and educational opportunities for participants.”
Amplifying Grassroots Youth Organizing PopUp
Across Ontario, young people are taking action in real and immediate ways to improve the health and well-being of their peers, families, and communities. They are often learning by doing, and their efforts can go unnoticed or be under-appreciated. In this round of PopUp funding, we offered groups $500 to support skills building in community organizing.
8 Projects Funded
The Black Women Collective
Brant Youth Pride
niizh jijaag gashkibijigan - Supporting Two Spirit and Trans Youth Tool Kit
Resiliency 4 Recovery
Toronto Youth Food Policy Council
Through Scaling Impact, we are committed to deepening our investments in youth-led projects by providing longer-term funding to groups that have already tested out different strategies for making our communities/institutions/policies more inclusive and have an established model and approach primed to go to scale. These grants support youth-led groups to expand and strengthen their models so that they can influence decision-makers/systems affecting their communities and reach more young people.
6 projects funded
Canadian Roots Exchange
Citizen Empowerment Project
NGen Youth Centre
Sudbury, ON, Manitoulin Island, ON, Ottawa, ON, and surrounding areas
Toronto and Mississauga, ON
grantee spotlight: Canadian Roots Exchange
Canadian Roots Exchange (CRE) is a community of Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth committed to building honest and equitable relationships, contributing to creating a Canada where youth stand in solidarity to promote respect, understanding, and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples
CRE builds bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth in Canada by facilitating dialogue and strengthening relationships through leadership programs. This grant supports the scaling up of youth reconciliation initiatives underway in Sudbury and Manitoulin, as well as Ottawa and surrounding regions.
We invest in research, policy, advocacy and communications strategies that ensure our partners’ efforts are recognized and contribute to lasting change. In collaboration with community partners, experts, think tanks, and research institutes, our knowledge building grants respond to specific knowledge gaps and support projects that are focused on the translation of the existing knowledge in accessible, innovative and relevant ways to support policy, program and service changes to improve the outcomes and experiences of young people facing exclusion.
1 project funded
Social Planning Toronto
The Foundation supports research to generate immediate, relevant knowledge of youth issues and the youth sector: to engage in public policy related activities, specifically focusing on the education system, youth justice system and the not-for-profit sector, and to inform its advocacy agenda. The Foundation makes research grants to organizations and individuals with expertise and lived experience.
3 projects funded
(Moving forward, our research activities will be covered under our Knowledge Building grants)
The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada
University of Saskatchewan, Department of Indigenous Studies
Thunder Bay, ON
Community-Based Education Strategies
The Foundation had a stream focused on youth-driven community based education strategies (CBES) that reach young people pushed out of, or marginalized, by the formal education system. These initiatives support young people to attain credits, to re-engage with the school system and to graduate or pursue further education or training. Community-based Education Strategies are developed by communities, young people and educations to reach young people who are not being served effectively by the education system and to create opportunities for them to re-engage with their education in more meaningful and empowered ways.
Center for Spanish Speaking People
Teach for Canada
youth collective impact
Youth CI has been a valuable addition to the social sector, and continues to support collaboratives across Ontario, working to address issues that directly improve the lives of young people. 2017 marks Youth CI’s final year of funded activity which, since its launch in 2014, has supported 68 collaboratives through workshops, coaching and funding and reached 20 communities across Ontario. These collaboratives are approaching community change in new ways, exploring root causes that prevent young people from succeeding and developing strategies to remove barriers. Today, collaboratives from the program’s first intake are beginning to see the results of their community-wide efforts, with some reaching further by exploring policy changes to better meet the needs of young people.
Looking ahead, we are pleased to renew our partnership with Innoweave to deliver Youth CI to current and new collaboratives for three more years. We’re building on the strengths of the program model by adding new elements to better support grassroots youth-led groups, improve support to very early-stage groups, and offer larger scale grants to better support collaboratives at the implementation stage..
8 projects funded
Brantford Brant Youth Collective Impact
LGBTQ+ Youth Collective Impact Project
Hastings County Youth CI
Prince Edward County Youth Collective Impact Initiative
A Way Home Peterborough
Wellington County Youth Homelessness Committee
Lanark County, ON
County of Hastings, ON
Prince Edward County, ON
Wellington County, ON
grantee Spotlight-Wellington County Rural Youth Homelessness Committee
Wellington County has set out a bold plan to address youth homelessness in the community, bringing diverse stakeholders to support the implementation of a collective impact strategy. With Wyndham House at the helm, eight organizations are working together, taking critical steps to support youth who enter the homelessness system to maintain housing within 30 days.
The most significant challenge the collective identified was the lack of awareness of youth homelessness existing in Wellington County and a misunderstanding of youth homelessness in general. In order to realize their vision, the collective is mobilizing the community to increase the range of available housing options, increasing housing stability, and reducing youth discharged from institutions, in addition to developing a comprehensive community awareness campaign.
In May, 2017 we hired our first Public Policy Manager, Saeed Selvam to assist our grantees with their advocacy, government relations, and public policy efforts. This commitment to change is what will influence and inspire our public policy efforts into the near future as we examine policy gaps in youth justice and education along with potential solutions, informed by evidence, research and most importantly, our grantees. Our policy efforts will seek to inform legislation, elevate the ongoing efforts of our grantees and seek to actively advocate for the health and well-being of Ontario’s young people.
Last October we convened over 200 partners, grantees, stakeholders and elected officials at the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon housed in the Toronto Public Library for a full day of learning and discussion.
The event was a unique opportunity to engage grantees and partners on a large scale in open and honest discourse on topics ranging from lessons in public policy to best practices in evaluation and promoting wellness of frontline workers. The event was divided between morning and afternoon sessions with a spoken word performance during the lunch hour.
Opening blessings from Indigenous Elder Andrew Wesley, keynote remarks from Minister Michael Coteau and Councillor Neethan Shan, workshops throughout the day and the closing panel on ‘how the philanthropic sector can work in better solidarity with Indigenous communities’ closed off a very inspiring day.
Public Policy 101 Workshop
On July 19th, 2017, we convened a mix of grantees, stakeholders and government relations’ staff from various sectors for our first Influencing Public Policy 101 workshop and was led by our Public Policy Manager featuring a Senior Policy Advisor to Premier Wynne, James Janeiro. The goal of the event was to provide an introduction to effective advocacy tactics and skills for organizations looking to influence or amend particular policies. It also provided participants with a unique perspective in respect to government constraints, what they respond to and what peaks an elected official’s attention.
Public Policy Participation
From May 2017 onwards, we’ve been honored to have been invited and participate on a series of panels and convenings by our partners.
Provincial Partnership Table, MCYS
CEGN Annual Conference
YWCA National Conference
Maytree Looking Ahead Policy Conference with PM Trudeau
U of T Roundtable on the Future of Policy with President Gertler
Educational Attainment for Indigenous youth: A visit to Thunder Bay with Teach for Canada
We joined one of our grantees, Teach for Canada, in their Summer Enrichment Program, led by Indigenous leaders, northern teachers, and education experts. The program helps teachers learn about the histories and cultures of northern First Nations communities in order to adopt culturally-relevant pedagogies, enables them to visit a First Nations community, and to establish self-care practices.
in the field
Educational Attainment for youth in Jane and Finch: visits with YAAACE and Success Beyond Limits
We met with two grantees working on educational attainment strategies for youth living in Jane and Finch: YAAACE and Success Beyond Limits. YAAACE provides wrap-around supports, expanded opportunities and academic interventions to promote academic engagement young people from kindergarten to grade 8 living in the Jane and Finch community of Toronto. Their summer institute, hosted at C. W. Jeffery’s supports over 400 students attend to enter the school year at their grade level. During this site visit, we had the opportunity to meet with Mike Clemons of the Pinball Clemons Foundation, who discussed his interest in matching funds to ensure YAAACE can expand its reach.
We then visited Osgoode Hall at York University to see Success Beyond Limit’s summer program in action. Success Beyond Limits was developed in response to high suspension and dropout rates in the Jane and Finch community of Toronto, coupled with unsettling low graduation rates. This summer program supports grade 8 students to transition to grade 9, through a community-based credit attainment program where they earn their first high school credit and develop positive peer relationships prior to starting grade nine.
Ministry of Children & Youth Services (MCYS)
As part of a broader response to challenges facing young people in Thunder Bay, the Ministry of Children & Youth Services (MCYS) hosted a series of events for young people in the community, including a design lab and information session about funding opportunities that can support their community projects. The event was hosted in partnership with the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Youth Opportunities Fund, YouthREX, the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, the Thunder Bay Community Foundation and other community-based organizations across the region. The event was an opportunity for us to connect with local youth in Thunder Bay, discuss issues affecting young people, and share information about Laidlaw funding opportunities, including our Resilience 150 PopUp and Youth CI’s Conversation Starter Micro Grant.
Educational Attainment for incarcerated youth: A tour of the Toronto South Detention Centre & Amadeusz
We participated in a tour of the Toronto South Detention Centre to see firsthand the challenges and opportunities of providing programs within remand custody facilities. Staff at the detention centre provided an in-depth tour and outlined their aspirations for Amadeusz (one of our CBES grantees) to become a more permanent program within the facility, including having their own dedicated classroom. We had the opportunity to meet with two young men who are participating in Amadeusz’s education programs: one is finishing up his GED so that he can access a trade apprenticeship when he is released, and the other is completing college courses in business. Both spoke of how this opportunity is providing them with a positive way to use their time, and concrete benefits that make them hopeful about their lives once they are released.
the family committee
In 2017, the Board approved the establishment of a Family Committee and a Family Fund that aim at engaging members of the Laidlaw Family both in the Foundation and in philanthropy and grant-making. Members of the Family worked with the Board in spearheading the process of design and operation of the Family Discretionary Grant Fund.
A Fund of $150,000 per year, initially for a three-year term, is in place to encourage Family Members to actively engage with philanthropy and, by association, to increase their long-term involvement with and support for the Foundation.
All descendants of Mr. R.A. Laidlaw, 18 years of age and older, will be eligible to make an application to the Fund on behalf of a recognized Canadian charitable organization, to a maximum of $10,000 per year, per Family Member. Applications could be in the form of one grant for $10,000 or a series of smaller micro grants. Family Members are encouraged to consider the mission of the Foundation with their grant applications.
The Family Committee oversees the administration of the Fund. It is comprised of the three Family Members on the Board, together with two other Family Members and two non-Family Board Members. Members of the Committee are appointed by the Board with a mandate to reach out to all eligible Family Members, promoting as well as encouraging the opportunities presented by the Fund.
In a span of one short year, the Family Committee and the Family Fund have achieved significant progress and created great momentum in engaging with the Family. In 2017, the Family Committee facilitated access to the fund and organized the first Family Reunion in years.
Through the Family Discretionary Grant Fund, 12 Family members made requests supporting 15 unique initiatives and projects. The Fund supported initiatives from different parts of the Province, including Kenora and downtown Toronto. The list of initiatives represents a diverse mix of issue areas ranging from arts and culture, community services, recreational, environmental and heritage preservation, amongst others.
In addition, the Family Committee planned and hosted a Laidlaw Family Gathering that was held in Toronto on October 29, 2017. 33 Family Members attended. The Chair of the Board and the Executive Director of the Foundation were also present at the gathering. They welcomed and greeted Family members on behalf of the Board.
The event was a resounding success over all. Organizers received plenty of positive feedback, and there was a clear desire to do this again.
The Committee maintains regular communications with Family Members. The first Newsletter, provided background information on the development of the Family Fund and included the fund’s Terms of Reference and the Family Committee mandate.
The second Newsletter, now named “Vital Signs”, included a brief summary on the Family Reunion, along with a thank you note on behalf of the Foundation and the Family Committee to all who attended the Family gathering and luncheon.
Further, the first “Vital Signs” included reflection on Remembrance Day and its special relevance to the Laidlaw Family. Bob Smith, the senior Family Member wrote:
“As I am sitting here writing this first edition of the Laidlaw Family “Vital Signs”, it is Remembrance Day, November 11, 2017. I am going to begin with a very sad Laidlaw Family In Memoriam. On January 31, 1944, Flying Officer Jeffery Cayley Laidlaw, a Navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force, was killed in action when the plane he was on crashed in Lagos, Nigeria. He was 25 years old. Uncle Jeff left behind to mourn him his beloved parents, Grannie and Granddad (Julia and Bobby Laidlaw) and his much-loved siblings, sister Kay and brothers Nick and Rod. Uncle Jeff was also my Godfather. I treasure the copy of a letter he sent me from overseas at the time of my first Christmas, Christmas 1942. He and I did actually meet as I have pictures of the two of us together in the living room and in the garden of the family home, 35 Jackes Avenue in Toronto. Lest We Forget”.
Moving forward, the Family Committee plans to engage more Family Members in the Fund and the Foundation in the future. 2019 marks two significant milestones, one is the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Foundation and the other is the 200thanniversary of the Family settling in Canada from Scotland. The Laidlaw Foundation will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of its founding in 2019, at which time the Family will be an important part of the celebrations.
Investing in the future
Over the years, the Laidlaw Foundation has supported organizations with more than just grants. We have taken loans on behalf of arts groups, provided loan guarantees and supported mortgages, helping build brick-and-mortar cultural infrastructure through projects such as theatre and dance companies.
Essentially, Laidlaw has long engaged in practices close to what is now known as “impact investment”: managing its money to achieve not only a financial return, but also social and environmental benefits.
So beyond using its endowment earnings to fund grantmaking, Laidlaw’s strategic plan for 2014–2018 included a clear call to develop “other means by which the financial resources of the Foundation can be put to the service of our vision.” In 2017, we focused on finding ways to ensure Laidlaw’s investments also advance its mission.
Following instructions from the Board, Laidlaw’s Investment Committee retained the consulting firm Mercer (mercer.ca) to help update our overall portfolio management policy. Surveying Laidlaw’s staff and stakeholders, Mercer found solid support for strengthening our emphasis on socially responsible investment. So while ethics have always been a priority, with Laidlaw working to monitor—and improve—the behaviour of companies whose shares it owns, last year we adopted new rules for our portfolio. It now operates with explicit environmental, social and governance standards: we will not invest in anything that profits from exploitation of children and/or weapons, for example, to ensure none of the Foundation’s holdings run counter to our programs and social mission.
But rather than just avoiding harm, Laidlaw wants to actually do good with its portfolio. So we hired a specialist advisory firm Purpose Capital (purposecap.com) to help us develop an impact investing framework. It focuses on finding opportunities that can provide at least modest financial returns, along with measurable social benefits. These range from investing directly in marginalized young people’s businesses, and in spaces and housing serving their communities, to sustainable agriculture and clean energy projects that protect the world they will inherit.
While the approach is growing more popular, good impact investments can still be difficult to identify—not to mention effectively manage or measure. And safeguarding the Foundation’s granting resources remains a key priority, even as we learn new ways to use our assets. So to start, the Board approved a strategy that “carves out” up to 5% of Laidlaw’s total December 2016 portfolio value (just over $3.7 million) for impact investment.
The remaining part of the Laidlaw portfolio (i.e. 95%) is not currently targeted for impact investments. However, Laidlaw has introduced a Socially Responsible Investment policy that includes Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors to ensure that this part of the portfolio is not invested in a manner that may be counter to the impact portfolio or grant making objectives.
To help administer this part of the portfolio, our Board also approved the Investment Committee’s recommendation that Laidlaw retain financial managers with impact expertise.
Following a thorough search process, supported by Purpose Capital, the Board hired Wetherby Asset Management (https://wetherby.com/). Their first task was to develop a customized impact investing policy statement, translating the Foundation’s financial and strategic priorities into a practical guide for asset allocation. The Board approved this statement in November 2017, and Wetherby will soon provide them and the Investment Committee with a selection of portfolio options that meet the new criteria.
For more information on Impact Investing strategy, policy or management advisory services please contact Jehad Aliweiwi at email@example.com
LAIDLAW FOUNDATION Investment overview & asset mix as of 12/31/2017
Cash and Equivalents
0% - 15%
30% - 50%
50% - 70%
15% - 25%
35% - 45%
35% - 45%
annual report 2017
mission and vision
GRANTING AT A GLANCE
Indigenous Youth and Community Futures Fund
grantee spotlight 1 & 2
Youth-Led Community Change Program
Youth Sector Innovation
Youth Sector Innovation and resilience PopUps
grantee spotlight 3