“If we are unhappy and discontented with things as they are; the fault lies not in our friends or our neighbours, but in ourselves—for we get out of this good old world only what we put into it; nothing more and nothing less.”

J.W. McConnell

Early 1990s

A New Agenda

By the 1990s, the Foundation had a small professional staff and a new, proactive mission to help Canadians adapt to the profound economic, political, and social changes affecting Canada. National initiatives were launched to promote community economic development, to support innovation in higher education, and to widen the impact of successful local innovations.


Mission statement

To enhance the ability of Canadians to understand, adapt, and respond creatively and effectively to the underlying forces which are transforming Canadian society and the world.


Tim Brodhead Appointed President

Following the retirement of Derek A. Price, Tim Brodhead was appointed President and CEO of the Foundation.

Foundation Initiative



Launched in 1998 to support student’s creative development through artistic activity—and to address declining arts programming in schools across Canada—ArtsSmarts brings together artists, teachers, and students to explore the formal education curriculum using art as a means of discovery and co-learning.


July 1998

Should you sow what you know?

A seminal publication that introduced the Foundation’s “applied dissemination” program—a precursor to Social Innovation Generation (SiG).

Download the Publication (238 KB)

Foundation Initiative

McGill-McConnell Program


Developed in partnership with McGill University, the McGill-McConnell program provided 120 leaders from non-profit organizations with a Masters level program that introduced contemporary perspectives to working on complex challenges in the voluntary sector and in society at large.

Foundation Initiative

Green Street


The Foundation launched Green Street in 1999 to encourage active participation by young people in environmental stewardship. Its strategy centered on supporting voluntary sector organizations in offering schools quality programs that responded to both student interest and teacher need.

Foundation Initiative

Supporting Family Caregivers


The Supporting Family Caregivers initiative was launched in 1999, with a coalition of health and social sector organizations, to promote policy change and improvements to service accessibility for Canada’s largely unrecognized population of family caregivers.

Foundation Initiative

Engaging Youth


During his lifetime J.W. McConnell supported organizations that served disadvantaged youth, including the YMCA and Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs. This focus on youth has continued—from 2000-2010 the Foundation has allocated nearly $50 million to projects benefiting youth.


October 2001

The ArtsSmarts Story

Demonstrates "the magic of creative learning through art, as well as the value and potential of art-infused education."

Download the Publication (7.1 MB)

Foundation Initiative

Vibrant Communities


An initiative of the Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement, the Caledon Institute of Social Policy, and the Foundation, Vibrant Communities is a national comprehensive place-based poverty reduction program.


June 2003

This Day is for Me: Caring for the Caregivers

Describes the informal caregiving experience and eight projects that addressed “respite for caregivers”.

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Foundation Initiative

Community Service-Learning


Community Service-Learning (CSL) combines classroom learning with volunteer work to achieve community goals.


A New Mission Statement

The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation engages Canadians in building a more innovative, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient society.

Foundation Initiative

Social Innovation Generation


Social Innovation Generation (SiG) is a collaboration between the Foundation and several partners to support and implement social innovation. Working across the community, public, and private sectors, SiG develops and shares new approaches to addressing complex social challenges.

Foundation Initiative

Sport for Development


With a particular emphasis on reaching vulnerable individuals and communities, the Sport for Development initiative supports a network of community leaders who use sport programs to promote community resiliency through social inclusion, healthy lifestyles, civic pride, and engagement.


November 2006

Accelerating our Impact: Philanthropy, Innovation and Social Change

Outlines the role of funders in supporting innovation and social change.

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Foundation Initiative



In partnership with the Maytree Foundation, ALLIES (Assisting Local Leaders with Immigrant Employment Strategies) works with government, private, and community sector partners to support local efforts across Canada to promote the suitable employment of skilled immigrants.


June 2007

Care Renewal: The policy implications of 13 caregiver respite projects

Identifies common themes emerging from 13 caregiver respite projects and provides policy recommendations.

Download the Report (963 KB)


The Biography

The biography, J.W. McConnell: Financier, Philanthropist, Patriot by William Fong is published in 2008.


October 2008

Learning to Live like We Plan on Staying Here: New Approaches to Sustainability Education in Canada

A short video discussing sustainability education in Canada.

Watch the video (15:47)


May 2009

Making the Path as We Walk It: Changing Context and Strategy on Green Street

Examines how Green Street—a national environmental education program—evolved over a decade in response to learning from the field.

Download the Report (5.8 MB)

Foundation Initiative

Sustainable Food Systems


Launched in 2010, the Foundation’s Sustainable Food Systems initiative focuses on strengthening regional food systems while enhancing consumers’ ability to make food choices that are healthy for them and the environment.


February 2010

On Not Letting a Crisis Go to Waste: An Innovation Agenda for Canada’s Community Sector

Explores implications of the 2008 economic downturn for Canada’s community sector, and argues that new approaches are needed to improve the wellbeing of Canadians and their communities.

Download the Publication (1.1 MB)


July 2010

DE 201: A Practitioner’s Guide to Developmental Evaluation

Builds on A Developmental Evaluation Primer to describe how to evaluate in complex and changing environments.

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September 2010

Getting Wisdom: The Transformative Power of Community Service-Learning

An overview of community service-learning and its impacts on universities, students, and communities.

Download the Publication (1.3 MB)


September 2010

YouthScape: A Funder’s Perspective

Documents the design, implementation, and evaluation of YouthScape and outlines strategies for involving marginalized young people in community development.

Download the Report (987 KB)


November 2010

Patterns, Principles, and Practices in Social Innovation

An overview of social innovation and its relevance to community and global issues.

Download the Report (264 KB)


Stephen Huddart Appointed President

In 2011, following the retirement of Tim Brodhead, Stephen Huddart was appointed President and CEO of the Foundation.

Foundation Initiative



Launched in 2011 in collaboration with Social Innovation Generation (SiG), Innoweave helps community organizations implement innovative approaches to work more effectively and enhance their impact.


September 2011


Resilience provides an understanding of why we fund what we do and highlights lessons learned from work with our grantees and partners.

Download the Publication (3.2 MB)


September 2011

Reflections on Philanthropy and Society: The Speeches of Tim Brodhead

A selection of speeches from past Foundation President Tim Brodhead.

Download the Publication (1.7 MB)


February 2012

Introducing Innoweave

A short motion graphic introducing the Foundation’s Innoweave initiative and the work of Platformation.

Watch the video (2:35)

Foundation Initiative

Aboriginal-Focused Philanthropy


The Foundation has identified partnerships among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organizations as a priority granting area, with a particular focus on supporting high quality, culturally relevant education for Aboriginal youth.


July 2012

Technology-Enabled Social Innovation: Selected Articles from the Technology Innovation Management Review

Highlights the promise and potential of technology-enabled social innovation and features contributions from some of Canada’s leading social innovators and entrepreneurs.

Download the Publication (2.5 MB)

Foundation Initiative

McConnell Social Innovation Fund


Improving the lives of Canadians—and contributing to a more resilient society—requires breakthrough ideas and approaches, game changing strategies and collaborations, and continuous innovation. Launched in 2012, the McConnell Social Innovation Fund provides community sector support in three categories: Early Stage Consolidation; Re-tooling for Growth; and Collaborations for Systemic Change.


Going Forward

Today, the Foundation carries on J.W. McConnell’s vision by supporting outstanding organizations working to tackle persistent social problems through community involvement, innovative thinking, and a clear commitment to building a stronger, more resilient Canada.