The Metcalf Foundation creates meaningful change by:
We invest approximately $6 million each year in charitable activity. In 2018, the allocation of grants was:
- ENVIRONMENT (28%)
- PERFORMING ARTS (28%)
- INCLUSIVE LOCAL ECONOMIES (29%)
- SPECIAL INITIATIVES (10%)
- BOARD DISCRETIONARY (5%)
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.
We are committed to supporting individuals in the charitable sector over the arc of their careers.
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 affect.
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.
- To address the growing interest and need for sector-focused workforce development in Toronto, the Inclusive Local Economies Program establishes the Toronto Sector Skills Academy in partnership with the Aspen Institute.
- The Foundation replaces the Renewal Program with the Leading and Learning Program to support the professional development of non-profit leaders and create vital opportunities for collaborative learning between organizations.
Sandy Houston is the President and CEO of the Metcalf Foundation. Over the last fifteen 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 also been instrumental in the establishment of a number of Canadian not-for-profits. He is currently the founding chair of the Community Food Centres Canada and was the founding chair of 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 a director of the Tides Canada Foundation and the Toronto Community Foundation and past chair of Philanthropic Foundations Canada. He also continues to serve as advisor to a number of charitable organizations, 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 a past Chair of the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers’ Network, former National Trustee of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and currently serves as Vice Chair of the Ontario Nonprofit Network’s Board of Directors and is a member of The 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.
Catherine Annau joined the Metcalf Foundation in 2017 after a career as an award-winning documentary filmmaker, television and radio producer, published author, and communications and media strategist. Most recently, she has served as communications manager for a Toronto-based transit and urban affairs research group and as a manager of visual and performing arts at a community college in Alberta. After graduating with a Master’s degree in history from McGill University, she directed the feature documentary Just Watch Me: Trudeau and the ‘70s Generation, which won many awards including a Genie and Best First Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival. Her films have been broadcast on HBO, Channel 4, Discovery, CBC, TVOntario, and the Sundance Channel, and have screened at festivals and major cultural institutions in Asia, Europe and North America.
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.
Annie Rawlings joined the Metcalf Foundation in 2017 as Officer Manager and Executive Assistant to the President and CEO. Before coming to the Foundation, Annie worked as a Senior Executive Assistant at Roots of Empathy for over 10 years and as an office manager in the healthcare sector.
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.
Alicia Richins joined Metcalf in June 2019 as the 2019/2020 Programs Intern. She brings with her experience in research and policy analysis, project management, event coordination, public engagement, and a deep commitment to community service. Most recently, she completed an internship-turned-consultancy in portfolio monitoring and evaluation at the Inter-American Development Bank (Washington, D.C). Alicia holds both a Bachelor of Arts (Economics and Social Science) and a Master in Environmental Studies (Planning Concentration) from York University. Alicia’s personal mission is to secure resilient futures for all by advancing ecologically sustainable development through the intelligent design and management of projects and policies. During her year at the Foundation, Alicia is looking forward to immersing herself in the public-private-non-profit cross-sectoral collaborations necessary to link policy to praxis and vice versa, and the synergies across Metcalf’s three work areas.
Keith Barker, Native Earth Performing Arts
Katherine Carleton, Orchestras Canada/Orchestres Canada
Andy McKim, independent artist/consultant
Caroline O’Brien, Ryerson University
Natasha Powell, Holla Jazz
Naomi Campbell, Luminato Festival
Menon Dwarka, Arts Etobicoke
Liam McQuade, Liam McQuade Inc.
Shannon Litzenberger, independent artist / advocate
Valérie Courtois, Director, Indigenous Leadership Initiative
Steve DeRoy, Director, The Firelight Group
Brodie Guy, Executive Director, Coast Funds
Dr. Joseph LeBlanc, Director of Indigenous Affairs, Northern Ontario School of Medicine
Tonya Makletzoff, Conservation Area Advisor, Government of Northwest Territories
Dr. David Pearson, Professor, School of the Environment, Laurentian University
Dr. Risa Smith, Co-Chair, Protected Areas Climate Change Specialist Group, World Commission on Protected Areas, International Union for the Conservation of Nature
James Stauch, Director, Institute for Community Prosperity, Mount Royal University
Karim Bardeesy, Distinguished Visiting Professor and Special Advisor to the President, Ryerson University
Stephanie Cairns, Principal, Wrangellia Consulting
Lois Corbett, Executive Director, Conservation Council of New Brunswick
Dave Harvey, Executive Director, Park People
Sunil Johal, Director of Business Growth Services, City of Toronto Economic Development & Culture
Jessie Sitnick, Vice President, Corporate and Public Affairs, Argyle Public Relationships
Ed Whittingham, Principal, Whit & Ham
Mark Winfield, Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University
Monica Campbell, Former Director of Healthy Public Policy, Toronto Public Health; Assistant Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
Hannah Evans, Director, Building and Development Branch, Ministry of Municipal Affairs
Matt Galloway, Host, Metro Morning on CBC Radio One
Jennifer Keesmaat, CEO, The Keesmaat Group; Former Chief Planner, City of Toronto
Albert Koehl, Environmental lawyer, Road Safety Advocate and Adjunct Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School
Siva Vijenthira, Project Manager, 8 80 Cities
Alex Dow, United Way Greater Toronto
Phil Frei, entrepreneur
Deena Ladd, Workers’ Action Centre
Paul Taylor, FoodShare Toronto
Tom Zizys, independent labour market expert & Metcalf Fellow
Mandie Abrams, Executive Director, Hospitality Workers Training Centre
Catherine Chandler-Crichlow, President & Chief Human Capital Officer, 3C Workforce Solutions
Nation Cheong, Director of Youth Initiatives, United Way Toronto and York Region
Trina Foster, Chief Executive Officer, ONESTEP
Karim Harji, Co-Founder and Director, Purpose Capital
Sandy Houston, President & CEO, Metcalf Foundation
Joanne Kviring, Executive Director, PayPal Giving Fund Canada
Bruce Lawson, President & CEO, The Counselling Foundation
Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO, CivicAction
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