May 3 | 2017

Who will be FCT’s Next Scholarship Recipient?

Posted by:

ScholarshipScholarship applications are now being accepted.

Our Honourable William G. Davis Scholarship is now open for 2017 submissions. The program awards five $1,000 scholarships to students who have been accepted to or are currently enrolled at a post-secondary institution in Canada.

It is named after The Honourable William G. Davis, the 18th Premier of Ontario, whose passion for education contributed to his work in building Ontario’s community college system. Recipients of the scholarship are remarkable young people who aim to make a difference in the lives of others.

For instance, one of the 2016 William G. Davis Scholarship recipients, Bernice Ho is ready to make an impact through her education. She is currently enrolled at Queen’s University where she is studying to be a pediatrician. Bernice pursued her passion to work with children since high school by volunteering for the YMCA, tutoring elementary students, and working with the Markham Stouffville hospital to draw and colour with young patients. She is also the co-founder of the Sick Kids Foundations Club.

What really pushed her to follow her dream of being a pediatrician was a course that changed her world view.  “How I saw the world was profoundly changed by my Social Determinants of Health course because I learned that an individual’s socioeconomic status could impact their access to healthcare,” Bernice explains. “Therefore, my love for children and my passion to abolish such “guidelines” in healthcare policies encouraged me to become a pediatrician working alongside health promotion to implement affordable and available healthcare, so that each child, no matter their adversities, can get an equal start to life.”

We are proud to support Bernice in her academic journey and look forward to awarding scholarships to more deserving students this year.

Scholarship applications will be accepted till June 30, 2017. For details on how to apply, visit our website.

Best of luck to all the applicants!

Apr 24 | 2017

Celebrate National Volunteer Week with FCT!

Posted by:

National Volunteer WeekOur employees contribute their passion, time and money to dozens of local charities, food banks, youth and women’s organizations every year. This year, we’re stepping things up and celebrating National Volunteer Week (NVW) with our employees and with you! Share your commitment to volunteering with us by posting your stories and photos on social media. We will be doing the same all week!

At FCT, we’re invested in the communities where we live and work, and support organizations that are focused on alleviating poverty and homelessness. We are actively involved in fundraising and volunteer activities within our local communities—supporting organizations like Habitat for Humanity Canada, Red Cross Disaster Relief and Food For Life.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to see how our volunteers are helping out in the community!

What is National Volunteer Week?

National Volunteer Week is a North American initiative that has been running in Canada since 1943. NVW promotes and appreciates volunteerism in the community.

 How is FCT Celebrating National Volunteer Week?

Our FCT National Volunteer Team is running an employee fundraising event to help support our chosen charities across Canada and provide volunteer opportunities with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Halton Women’s Place and Food4Kids for employees throughout the week.

Volunteering in the Community

Last year, our employees volunteered 1,476 hours serving communities across Canada. One of the many memorable endeavors included participation in an initiative led by Home Suite Hope, a charity that helps low income single-parent families go from crisis to stability by breaking the cycle of poverty. They work with community partners like FCT to raise funds and purchase gifts, bringing joy to families in need. Teams of employees selected one family each and purchased gifts from the wish lists they provided. Among the 92 gifts purchased were new clothing, toys, and home supplies. It was a wonderful opportunity to help those in need and give them a reason to celebrate.

Paul McLeish, who leads our volunteer team says, “Being actively involved and seeing first-hand the struggles that exists in our communities is an extremely emotional and humbling experience. As much as I try to donate to causes, I find nothing is more rewarding then lending a helping hand to someone in need.”

Giving through the FCT Charitable Foundation

In 2012, the FCT Charitable Foundation (FCTCF) was created to aid FCT in supporting local organizations. The FCTCF is an employee-driven, non-profit registered charity and our mission is to support charitable organizations that help alleviate poverty and homelessness. In addition to volunteering and community giving, the foundation also supports post-secondary education by awarding scholarships to students attending post-secondary institutions in Canada.

May 4 | 2016

The FCT Charitable Foundation’s 2016 Scholarship Program is now accepting applications

Posted by:

Apply now for your chance at one of five $1,000 scholarshipscholarships

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” — Nelson Mandela

Now in its second year, The Honourable William G. Davis Scholarship is currently accepting applications. An initiative of the FCT Charitable Foundation, this scholarship was launched in April of 2015 as another way for FCT to help support students in our communities with financial assistance as they take on post-secondary education (and changing the world!).

Who is eligible?

Any student who is current enrolled in or accepted to a post-secondary Canadian educational institution can apply.

How to apply

Those students interested are asked to complete an online application form before June 30, 2016, which includes a short essay detailing why the applicant is most deserving. Details of community and volunteer involvement as well as extra-curricular activities are also required. The five chosen recipients will be contacted in August 2016.

To learn more about this wonderful opportunity visit FCT.ca. Best of luck!

May 12 | 2015

Celebrating philanthropy in our community

Posted by:

AFPsmallLast year, FCT was honoured to receive the 2014 National Philanthropy Day Outstanding Corporation Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Golden Horseshoe Chapter. Presented at the annual National Philanthropy Day event, this award recognized the many and ongoing contributions that FCT and the FCT Charitable Foundation (FCTC) continue to make to local charities, including those focused on anti-poverty and homelessness assistance, as well as improving the communities where we live and work in general.

Not only were we humbled by this recognition, we were also inspired by the stories from the other honourees who received a National Philanthropy Award. The event and the awards themselves serve as incredible reminders of the power of philanthropy within our community.

This year, I am pleased to announce that FCT is the official sponsor of the Outstanding Corporation Award. We look forward to celebrating the contributions of other corporations within the Golden Horseshoe and attending the 2015 National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon on Friday, November 13.

For more information on the luncheon and to find out how you can nominate an individual, corporation or volunteer for a National Philanthropy Award, you can visit the Association of Fundraising Professionals Golden Horseshoe website.

Best of luck to all of those applying and thank you — thank you for taking it upon yourself to truly make a difference in our community.

Apr 28 | 2015

The FCT Charitable Foundation announces The Honourable William G. Davis Scholarship

Posted by:

rsz_1davisw_col_300One of my favourite things to do at FCT is chair our employee-led FCT Charitable Foundation (FCTCF). In addition to raising funds for local charities that provide anti-poverty and homelessness assistance to communities where we operate, FCTCF ‘s mandate also includes providing scholarships to students for post-secondary education.

So it is my pleasure to announce the inaugural year of The Honourable William G. Davis FCTCF Scholarship.

For those outside of Ontario, the Honourable William G. Davis was the 18th Premier of Ontario who distinguished himself in many ways, most notably through his dedication to education by building Ontario’s community college system. From an FCT perspective, he has been the chair of our board since its inception a decade ago, and also served on the board of our American parent — First American —from 1997 to 2013. We, his FCT family, are very thankful for his guidance, insight and wit in leading our growth in Canada.

I am delighted to recognize Mr. Davis’ impressive dedication to FCT and to education in general with the launch of this new scholarship program.

This year FCTCF will offer five (5) $1,000 scholarships to students attending Canadian post-secondary institutions. We are targeting individuals from those communities where FCT employees live and work.

We have also assembled an impressive group to act as our expert scholarship review panel. The group includes a retired principal, teachers representative of several different boards, college instructors and community volunteers who will work together to advise the foundation on the selection of recipients.

scholarship_smallIf you know of a deserving candidate please encourage them to apply online.  Or, if you are a current or a new student at a Canadian post-secondary institution, please read the guidelines and if you qualify, submit your application by June 30, 2015. We will announce the recipients by the end of the summer.

The best of luck to all those applying!

Mar 25 | 2015

Cleveland’s green plan: rehabbing a great city’s economy

Posted by:

Last time, we looked at how the tiny town of Sangudo, Alberta, staked its future on the business savvy of its own talent, investing through a co-op whose success has remade the town’s economy and its real estate market. But does what worked in a microscopic rural community necessarily scale to succeed in the vast wastelands of a dying US inner city?

You don’t have to look far: the US’s economy now lives on two different planets, moving ever farther apart—and one of the “tells” defining which planet you’re on is infrastructure: the state of schools, highways, bridges, waterworks, public transport, inner city amenities, libraries, the list goes on. When the oil shock of the 1970s and the “global economy” politics of the 1980s combined to hit the old US economy right between the eyes, the first big industry to be “globalized” was US steel as Japanese and Korean factories out-innovated and out-competed the US firms.

Since the US entry into WWII in December, 1941, steel had been a critical part of a US economy driven by manufacturing. The great midwest industrial cities of Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Gary, all had steel in their veins. But in 1978, Cleveland was the first US city to default on its bond obligations, three decades before Detroit. Derided as “the mistake on the lake,” Cleveland suffered for years, as the dire state of its inner city became synonymous with “Rust Belt”;  combined with a long titles drought for its major sports teams (the NFL Browns left for Baltimore in 1995), Cleveland was a city on the ropes, its real estate prices tanking.

Enter what the activists call “community visioning” and the picture for successful community investing—and the parallel rise in residential real estate valuations in Cleveland—and things get a whole lot more interesting. Faced with a complex set of profound third-world problems in a first-world city, a core of dedicated citizens and innovative government people began to figure out how to use “anchor institutions” like hospitals and universities, dead essential to Cleveland’s future no matter what, in combination with local funding mechanisms, to grow local businesses.

The goals were overlapping and multifaceted, and the road to a viable model long and winding, but sustainability and growing property values through community-funded private ownership drove the strategy. The flight of the steel companies from Cleveland scarred the community’s memory: Clevelanders knew 30 years ago what it felt like to see a payroll of thousands of great jobs, benefits—and mortgage payments—leave town, never to return. At first, the green economy wasn’t even on the horizon—the game was simply to survive by “keeping the money in town.”

Meanwhile, even the World Bank and the Harvard Business Review were rethinking the economic principles which gutted the US’s steel belt, the World Bank actually questioning how globalization had damaged employee rights in the US; in 2010, a pair of studies, one in the Harvard Business Review and the other from Penn State’s business school, both agreed: per capita job growth and real estate price growth were intimately linked to the success not of “big payroll” companies (who could pull up stakes, tax breaks or not) but of locally owned businesses and *their* payrolls.

green-inner-city_smallSo Cleveland figured out that universities and hospitals have massive procurement needs…which can be fulfilled locally, by businesses purpose-built to serve these “anchor institutions”—with a twist: the emerging small businesses which won co-op investment are “green,” dedicated to cleaning up and keeping clean one of the most infamously dirty urban environments in the US. With these suppliers/vendors growing their businesses (and their payrolls), Cleveland’s real estate market began to grow in value, slowly, in select neighbourhoods at first, then across the metropolitan region along the Lake Erie shore. The procurement scheme is called Evergreen, and you’re going to be hearing a lot more about the success as the projects grow and deepen change in Cleveland.

From sole proprietorships to co-ops, Cleveland’s discovered that there’s actually a culture of co-operation where small businesses flourish and employee-owned green companies slowly build bank deposits and tax base because the anchor institutions are “buying green, buying local.” One simple unglamorous example: a state-of-the art “green laundry” serves Cleveland’s hospital network’s huge clean linens needs—and growing payroll and tax base to boot; across town, a co-op solar company has numerous first-time homebuyers on staff and the prospects of real social mobility for families trapped for decades in urban poverty. “If it wasn’t for Evergreen, I don’t know where I’d be,” says James Harris of Cooperative Solar. “Having the opportunity to have a career, it’s just great.”

What’s this mean for property values and the real estate market? Cleveland region MLS listings and market reports show that January 2015 grew 4.7% over 2014, with dollar volume climbing 8.4% to $310M, with an average residential sale price among the US’s bargains (Cleveland has rapidly improving ‘liveability’ statistics) at US$126K. Retail vacancy rates are also declining, another good sign; commercial values are climbing too, with innovative projects like a $10M rowers’ condo complex, right on the river, in a rehabbed Victorian foundry. Very cool.

The big picture in the US is far bigger than just Cleveland: banking assets in the US are about $8 trillion but securities assets are over $30 trillion. If even a fraction of Cleveland’s residents, like Sangudo’s did in the last post by EXPERT/ease , moved their investments from out-of-town financial instruments to backing a neighbour’s business, it’d be one smart investment in their own property values—and the future of their city. Cleveland is a slow-moving miracle, its “green procurement strategy” a signal advance in the explosion of employee owned companies in the US, from tech to microbreweries to clothing.

Here’s a wrap-up, from Sangudo, Alberta’s Don Ohler, naming the foundational pieces for community investment that works:

Common vision
In the course of facing down a serious threat, residents develop a clear idea of where they want to go

Trusted leadership
A number of locals habitually do things for the good of the whole community, while not trying to steal the show

Economic strategy
The investment co-op fights to retain the town’s core businesses largely on the strength of local savings

Wider agenda
Finally, local leaders press for reforms to government policy so others can win too. While thinking and acting in the here and now, they’re looking to their “greater neighbourhood”—other small towns and what they can achieve together, given some strategic government action

Jan 22 | 2015

Meet Twane Boettinger, FCT’s “Volunteer of the Year” 2014

Posted by:

Twane Boettinger (centre) receiving FCT's Volunteer of the Year Award

Twane Boettinger (centre) receiving FCT’s Volunteer of the Year Award

In December, FCT SVP Don MacLeod and I had the privilege of handing out FCT’s first “Volunteer of the Year” Award to Twane Boettinger at our annual Awards of Excellence Celebration.  Twane is a Program Manager in our IT Department in Oakville. Twane was nominated for this award by his peers for his volunteer work for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Since 2010, Twane has inspired his colleagues to participate in the “Relay for Life” that is held annually. Over the past 4 years, FCT’s Team “Fighting Cancer Together” (a riff on our name) have raised over $50,000 for the Relay. And FCT’s 3 teams were ranked in the Top 5 for fundraising efforts last year. Very impressive!

FCT made a contribution to a charity of Twane’s choice in recognition of his outstanding volunteer contribution.

I am very proud of Twane’s efforts, as I am of all FCT employees volunteer activities. In 2014, FCT also introduced a new policy to allow our employees to take a paid day off to volunteer in the community. In addition to all the employees participating in the Relay for Life, I have seen a number of volunteer days supporting a wide variety of charities and their operations.

I am looking forward to hearing about another year of FCT employee volunteering initiatives in 2015.

Jul 23 | 2014

Is it Philanthropic to promote your own Philanthropy?

Posted by:

PhilanthropyThis year FCT and its employees have received some significant recognition and reached a number of milestones for our Corporate Philanthropy program. And while I am unbelievably proud of these achievements and want to shout them out to anyone who will listen, I am also struck by the apparent contradiction of being selfless in giving and at the same, tooting your own horn.

I put this issue to some of my colleagues who indicated to me that if we don’t toot our own horn, then no one will hear about it. And if they hear nothing about our corporate philanthropy efforts they won’t believe that we do anything. I also recognize that it is FCT’s Team of highly motivated employees who have contributed the lion’s share to this success, so it is for them that I am tooting this horn.

So in the spirit of sharing our activities and recognizing our employees’ greatness, I am absolutely delighted to tell you that:

  • This year marks the milestone of $300,000 in FCT/FCT Charitable Foundation donations to Habitat for  Humanity as well as the 150th Habitat for Humanity home we have title insured for free in Canada.
  •  It is also the 10th anniversary of FCT participating in the St Joseph Hospital Foundation Around the Bay race and we have raised $130,000 to date for research and treatment in Hamilton.
  • FCT received the Community Builder of the Year award from the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards in 2014.
  • FCT consistently places its teams in the Top 5 fundraisers for the Oakville Relay for Life in Support of Cancer Research- we were #1 and #3 this year!

And can you believe that there is still another half a year to go in 2014! Our employee-led FCT Charitable Foundation is very active and you can see all of the organizations that we support across the country by clicking on this link. https://fct.ca/about/corporate-social-responsibility.aspx

I am looking forward to more achievements in our corporate philanthropy program – but I am still struggling on the horn blowing.

Dec 17 | 2013

Building a Habitat Home in Nicaragua

Posted by:

NicaraguaA blog post by Carolyn Morley, Business Development Manager, FCT.

For the past 10 years I have volunteered locally in the London, Ontario area with Habitat for Humanity Canada taking part in local builds for new homeowners. This past November I decided to take part in an international build. I joined 14 others from across Canada to help build a Habitat home for a family in Nicaragua. I did not know the family or any of the other Canadian participants before the trip, it was a life-changing event that will yield long lasting friendships and give me a new perspective on my own situation.

The family of four whose home we were building is headed by Estella whose photo appears with mine on this blog page. To support her family, she earns less than $100 a month by sewing, and selling bananas, passion fruit and squash grown on her lot. Her family currently lives in a two-room house made of wood and tin with no windows, bathroom, running water or electricity and dirt floors. The new home will be about 300 sq ft with brick walls, windows and cement.

Estella’s family members have to put in a number of work hours towards the build as Habitat for Humanity believes in a hand up, not a hand out. Estella’s extended family and entire neighborhood came together to help her contribute those hours. The build site was awash with volunteers, the family and neighbors chipping in to help Estella and her family realize their dream of home ownership.

One of the most amazing things to me was to see how simply things are still done there. There were no cement mixers, so everything had to be done manually. We had to drive to the local river and fill barrels with water by hand. Then we drove back to the build site to mix and pour the cement for the home.

Although they have little by our standards, Estella and her family and friends are the happiest, kindest, most giving people you could ever meet. Being immersed in their culture and working with them daily, you leave the build site knowing that you will not soon forget them or this experience. Although they didn’t speak English, gratitude is a universal language and it was clearly seen in everyone’s smiles, each day we were there.

To get involved locally or in one of the many countries Habitat requires volunteers for, you can find information at www.habitat.ca and their Global Village projects. Habitat is building 50 more homes in the tiny village outside Managua. You don’t need any construction or building experience, just a desire to help others.

Dec 10 | 2013

The huge benefits of home ownership for low-income families

Posted by:

habitat for humanityA Guest Blog by Kevin Marshman, President & CEO Habitat for Humanity Canada

 

A home of your own is far more than a financial asset.

For low-income families, ownership of a safe and decent home can play a vital role in a family’s health and happiness, to the point where fewer sick days are taken and kids are getting better grades in school.

Those are just some of the insights from a new study led by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) that surveyed 326 families who have accessed affordable homeownership through Habitat for Humanity since 2000.

For many low-income Canadian families, especially those with children, once the bare essentials are paid — such as for substandard housing, and basic food and clothing — the pay cheque is gone. There is nothing left to go towards saving for better shelter or a better life.

Habitat for Humanity’s model offers a way out of this vicious cycle by providing a path to affordable home ownership. We sell houses to families at fair market value and gear mortgages to income – with zero interest and no down payment required. All we require upfront is hard work and sweat, and the desire to get ahead. Families contribute 500 hours towards the building of their own house, and volunteers help take care of the rest.

For the families that partner through Habitat, the difference shows in the quality their lives.

The results of the CMHC study are astonishing. Among the findings:

  • 89 per cent said their family lives have improved and 86 per cent say they are happier;
  • 78 per cent reported improved health of their families, with 31 per cent reported less frequent visits to the doctor and 25 per cent reported fewer sick days away from work;
  • An across-the-board improvement in children’s well-being and school performance;
  • More than half (58 per cent) reported that they were better-off financially.

Numbers don’t show everything.

Bradley and Charissa Shea have four children. When they first approached Habitat, they were living in a two-bedroom, mould-infested apartment. One of their kids, Caleb, is autistic, and Charissa must stay home to care for him. Habitat for Humanity helped them secure an affordable mortgage to buy their own home. This has taken a load off their minds — and allowed Bradley to upgrade his skills and better provide for his family.

April Smoke grew up on a First Nations reserve in Alderville, Ontario. Though she moved far from home to pursue post-secondary education, she and her son Josh could only afford crowded, unsafe, unhealthy housing in an unfamiliar place. Today, April is back among her community in Alderville, living in a Habitat home that was built there in partnership with the First Nations community. April now feels more at home and Josh is learning about his Ojibwe heritage.

These are only two stories. Over 2,200 families have received Habitat homes in Canada — and we’re working on building more. Whether you donate, volunteer on a build, or just let people know about our important work, we’d like you to be a part of it.

As this new study confirms, your contribution will make a real difference in the lives of families and their children. Learn more about Habitat for Humanity Canada and how you can get involved at www.habitat.ca.