The Metcalf Foundation creates meaningful change by:
We invest approximately $5 million each year in charitable activity. In 2015, allocation of grants was:
- ENVIRONMENT (25%)
- PERFORMING ARTS (22%)
- INCLUSIVE LOCAL ECONOMIES (20%)
- SPECIAL INITIATIVES (16%)
- BOARD DISCRETIONARY (17%)
Our funding philosophy:
- Have the courage to tackle tough issues.
- Be supportive, not prescriptive.
- Embrace diverse perspectives.
- Be inquisitive, respectful, and rigorous.
- Share knowledge and learn collectively.
We seek to inform public policy with new ideas that challenge the status quo.
We partner with organizations to advance pragmatic solutions to difficult problems.
The Metcalf Foundation was established in 1960 by George Cedric Metcalf.
The eldest of ten children, Metcalf left school at an early age to help support his family and worked as a stock boy at William Neilson’s ice cream plant. His drive and tenacity led him to work in sales, where he frequently crossed paths with Garfield Weston who was building his grocery business in Toronto. In the late 1940s, Weston persuaded Metcalf to join Loblaw as a vice-president. By 1954, Metcalf was President and Managing Director of George Weston Ltd. and Loblaw Companies. For the next fifteen years he helped turn Weston’s into a North American food empire.
In its early years, Metcalf’s philanthropy focused on social, educational, and health issues in Ontario. In the 1970s, Metcalf’s son, George Jr., a history professor, assumed responsibility for the Foundation and broadened its interests and geographic scope. Upon George Jr.’s death in 1990, his wife Johanna, and their children, worked with a board to direct the Foundation. In 1998, George Cedric Metcalf died and left his estate to the Foundation. This gift led to significant changes and the Foundation focused its resources in three areas: performing arts, environment, and poverty reduction. The Foundation views its priorities and strategies as evolving responses to the social challenges it seeks to effect.
George Cedric Metcalf
- The George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation is established in 1960.
- The Vicky Metcalf Award for Children’s Literature is established in 1963 in honour of George Cedric’s wife, a noted children’s author. (Presented annually, it is currently administered by the Writers’ Trust of Canada.)
- Metcalf’s support is instrumental in the creation of the Centre for Tropical Medicine at Toronto General Hospital, now called the University Health Network.
- The Foundation officially relocates from Charlottetown to Toronto.
- George Jr. and Johanna Metcalf assume leadership of the Foundation and bring in Jane Conway, Herb Samuels, and Jean Wright as the first outside directors.
- Grants are made primarily to small, grassroots organizations across Canada. The Foundation supports the operational costs of groups and as a granter plays a modest, unassuming role.
- The third generation of family becomes more involved in the activities of the Foundation.
- The Foundation hires its first part-time staff member.
- Metcalf makes its earliest major grant to Casey House. Within five hours, founder June Callwood uses the pledge to confirm matching government funds and purchase their property on Isabella Street.
- Support for the League for Human Rights for B’nai Brith creates the innovative Holocaust and Hope program for Canadian secondary school teachers.
- Generous support for Victoria College, University of Toronto, allows the refurbishment of the E.J. Pratt Reading Room, creation of Crescam Serviando Awards, and establishment of the Kristallnacht lecture series.
- The Foundation’s support of Frontier College helps create Beat the Street, an important literacy program in urban Toronto.
- Metcalf is among earliest supporters of Second Harvest in Toronto.
- The Campaign Against Child Poverty is catalyzed by significant early support from Metcalf.
- Metcalf becomes one of earliest and largest donors to Creative Trust, enabling the growth of this innovative collaborative initiative of mid-sized performing arts organizations in Toronto.
- Sandy Houston becomes the Foundation’s first President and CEO.
- Metcalf launches formal funding programs in Performing Arts, Environment, and Community, hiring program directors and establishing advisory committees.
- The Foundation develops a series of strategies including internships and renewal opportunities to support non-profit sector leaders, and introduces a range of measures including policy development, research, convening, and network building to enable social change.
- Early, major support for the Green Arts Barns proves catalytic, prompting support for project from all levels of government.
- Legislation establishing Ontario’s Greenbelt is passed, largely due to Metcalf’s work with a broad coalition.
- Metcalf’s investments are formative to the creation of a number of innovative Ontario organizations including FarmStart, Local Food Plus, Ontario Nonprofit Network, and Sustain Ontario.
- In 2010, the Foundation celebrates its 50th anniversary and invites a small group of organizations to put forward their best city-building ideas. Diaspora Dialogues, East Scarborough Storefront, Sustain Ontario, and Theatre Passe Muraille receive special one-time grants.
- The Community Program shifts its focus from poverty reduction to generating economic opportunities for low-income people and becomes the Inclusive Local Economies Program.
- In response to a Metcalf Innovation Fellowship Food Solutions paper, the Foundation becomes an integral agent in the creation of a new national organization, Community Food Centres Canada.
- The Performing Arts Program launches the Creative Strategies Incubator, designed to help companies explore new strategies and foster a culture of shared learning.
- With a goal to help build a low-carbon, resource efficient, and resilient Canada, the Environment Program establishes three new focus areas: Cycle City, Electrifying Movement, and Enabling Solutions.
Sandy Houston is the President and CEO of the Metcalf Foundation. Over the last ten years, Sandy has led the development of Metcalf into a leading private foundation engaged in helping Canadians imagine and build a just, healthy, and creative society. Prior to joining Metcalf, Sandy practiced corporate litigation at Oslers and was a founding partner in Stitt Feld Handy Houston, Canada’s first law firm to focus predominately on alternative dispute resolution.
Much of his current work is focused on creating opportunities for innovation and collaboration and in advancing new thinking and policy approaches. Sandy has been instrumental in the establishment of a number of Canadian not-for-profits. He was the founding chair of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, an arms-length, public foundation created by the Government of Ontario to support the environmental and agricultural integrity of province’s new Greenbelt. He is currently the chair of Community Food Centres Canada and past chair of Philanthropic Foundations Canada. He is a director of the Tides Canada Foundation and the Toronto Community Foundation. He also serves as advisor to a number of charitable organizations, including CivicAction, Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation, and Imagine Canada. Sandy is a Senior Fellow at Massey College.
Adriana Beemans joined the Metcalf Foundation in 2013, bringing extensive experience in community development, capacity building, and program innovation. Most recently she spent five years as the Director of Programs & Services at Working Women Community Centre, overseeing community engagement and settlement programming. As the Social Investment Fund Manager at Toronto Community Housing, she spent four years as a grant-maker working with community leaders in low-income communities. Before moving to Toronto, Adriana worked overseas with the Aga Khan Development Network in Pakistan and UN-Habitat in Afghanistan. She holds a graduate degree from the University of Toronto in Political Science and a Bachelor of Arts in International Development from Trent University.
Michael Trent joined Metcalf as Director of Performing Arts in 2015. Over his thirty-year career, he has contributed to the development of the dance field as choreographer, performer, teacher, artistic director, curator and arts community activist and volunteer. Most recently, Michael spent eight years as the Artistic Director of Toronto’s Dancemakers and the Centre for Creation. Michael has frequently consulted and collaborated with artists and arts organizations at the local and national levels on issues including strategic planning, transition, curatorial expertise, artistic assessment and training. He received a BSc from the University of Toronto in physiology and bioethics and was the co-recipient of the 2004 K.M. Hunter Artists Award in dance.
Andre Vallillee joined Metcalf as Environment Program Director in 2014. Prior to joining the Foundation, Andre worked as a Program Manager with the Ontario Trillium Foundation, overseeing the province-wide environmental grants portfolio and serving as the Foundation’s Strategy Lead for the environment sector. He is Past Chair of the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers’ Network, and currently serves on the National Board of Trustees of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Toronto Atmospheric Fund’s Grants & Programs Committee. Andre received his Bachelors in Environmental Studies and Political Science from the University of Victoria, his Masters in Planning from the University of British Columbia, and completed an Executive Education program in Leadership and Organizing through Harvard Kennedy School.
Janet Lewis CPA CA is the Foundation’s Director of Finance. She joined Metcalf in 2001 after holding a variety of positions in the business world, including Treasurer, VP Finance, and CFO, as well as running her own consulting firm specializing in the NFP area. Janet earned her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Applied Mathematics and completed an Executive MBA, and she earned Chartered Accountant designations in both the UK and Canada.
Heather Dunford joined the Metcalf Foundation in 2008 after spending nine years with The School of Toronto Dance Theatre as Student Services Coordinator and three years with the Toronto Children’s Chorus as Box Office Coordinator/Development Assistant. Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Waterloo and completed the reputable Arts Administration Specialization with co-op placements at the Manitoba Theatre Centre, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, The School for Performing and Visual Arts at The Centre in the Square, and the Living Arts Centre Mississauga.
Anne Perdue joined the Metcalf Foundation in 2012. She is a multi-skilled communications specialist and has held a variety of positions — writer, editor, graphic designer, and publications consultant — with Cadbury Adams Canada, Kellogg Canada, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Royal LePage, and CIBC Wood Gundy. Anne studied English at the University of Toronto and graphic design at OCAD. She is an award-winning published author and recently completed a residency in the Literary Arts Program at The Banff Centre.
Kate Fane joined the Metcalf Foundation in 2016. As a communications professional, she’s worked with diverse organizations such as Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre, Jane’s Walk, and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts with High Distinction in English Literature from the University of Toronto, and moonlights as a freelance writer for publications such as the Toronto Star, Vice, Maisonneuve, and Reader’s Digest.
Mercedes Sharpe Zayas joined the Metcalf Foundation as an intern for the Inclusive Local Economies Program in 2016. She is a recent graduate from the Master of Science in Urban Planning at the University of Toronto, and holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts with First Distinction in Anthropology from McGill University. Mercedes has also worked as a Policy Research Intern for the City of Toronto’s Economic Development and Culture Division and as a Placement Student for the Immigrant Women’s Integration Program at the TD Centre of Learning in Regent Park.
David Abel, Art of Time Ensemble
Tricia Baldwin, Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts
Mitchell Marcus, Acting Up Stage Company
Pamela Robinson, Ryerson University
Rupal Shah, Toronto Arts Council
Nova Bhattacharya, Nova Dance
Katherine Carleton, Orchestras Canada/Orchestres Canada
Shawn Kerwin, freelance designer
Andy McKim, Theatre Passe Muraille
Natasha Powell, Holla Jazz
Shannon Litzenberger, independent artist / advocate
Daniel Bernhard, Mushroom Cloud
Shannon Litzenberger, independent artist / advocate
Cathy Smalley, project management / consultant
Micheline McKay, Micheline McKay + Associates
Liam McQuade, Liam McQuade Inc.
Nancy Webster, Young People’s Theatre
Yvonne Bambrick, Executive Director, Forest Hill Village BIA; Urban Cycling Consultant; and Author
Hannah Evans, Director, Municipal Programs and Education Branch, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Matt Galloway, Host, Metro Morning on CBC Radio One
Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner, City of Toronto
Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health, City of Toronto
Shawn Micallef, Editor and Co-Owner, Spacing Magazine; Columnist, Toronto Star; Author; and Instructor, University of Toronto
Mark Bekkering, Manager, Implementation & Support, Environment and Energy Division, City of Toronto
Robert Gibson, Professor, University of Waterloo
Andrew Heintzman, President and CEO, InvestEco Capital
Tanzeel Merchant, Director, Partnerships and Consultation, Ontario Growth Secretariat, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Ersilia Serafini, President, Summerhill Group
Enid Slack, Director of the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto
Phil Frei, entrepreneur
Karim Harji, Purpose Capital
Anne Jamieson, Toronto Enterprise Fund
Deena Ladd, Workers’ Action Centre
Tom Zizys, independent labour market expert & Metcalf Fellow
Catherine Chandler-Crichlow, President & Chief Human Capital Officer, 3C Workforce Solutions
Nation Cheong, Director of Youth Initiatives, United Way Toronto and York Region
Karim Harji, Co-Founder and Director, Purpose Capital
Sandy Houston, President & CEO, Metcalf Foundation
Joanne Kviring, Strategic Program Manager, Canada, Virgin Unite
Bruce Lawson, President & CEO, The Counselling Foundation
Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO, CivicAction
Annamaria Rocco, Director, Human Resources, Cosmetica Laboratories Inc.
Jamison Steeve, Executive Director, Martin Prosperity Institute
Kaylie Tiessen, Researcher, Unifor
Sean Twyford, Director, Youth Strategies Branch, Ministry of Children and Youth Services
Pat Walcott, General Manager, Toronto Employment & Social Services