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The Co-operators Provides $75,000 to Fund Student Sustainability Projects

Dec 16, 2011

GUELPH, ON, Dec. 16, 2011 /CNW/ - Students across Canada are showing their campuses and their communities that change begins on the local level when it comes to sustainability. Eighteen student leaders participating in IMPACT! The Co-operators Youth Program for Sustainability Leadership have received a total of $75,000 in funding to support a variety of projects aimed at creating a healthier, more sustainable world for this and future generations.

Students participated in a unique four-day conference in Guelph, Ontario this past September that brought together 165 Canadian post-secondary leaders to explore sustainability issues and practices geared to ten systems including energy, water, food and transportation. At the conference, students managing sustainability projects were invited to apply for funding to help their projects make an even greater impact.

"At the end of the conference each student made a personal commitment to become a catalyst for sustainability in the months and years ahead, and our IMPACT! Fund was created to help them do that," said Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of The Co-operators. "With a little financial support, the sky is the limit in terms of what these exceptional, passionate young people might be able to achieve."

The Co-operators Foundation - IMPACT! Fund was created to engage youth and financially support their sustainability solutions that will positively impact Canadian organizations and communities. The IMPACT! Fund has already given $88,685 to support sustainability projects undertaken by alumni of the inaugural conference held in 2009. This new funding supports both 2009 and 2011 conference alumni.

For a complete list of recipients and project descriptions, please refer to the attached backgrounder or visit

About The Co-operators:
The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian-owned co-operative with more than $41 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is ranked #1 among the 50 Best Corporate Citizens in Canada by Corporate Knights, and listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada. As a proud member and supporter of the co-operative sector, The Co-operators is pleased to celebrate 2012: The International Year of Co-operatives. For more information visit


First Time Grants for 2011 IMPACT! Alumni

A number of IMPACT! Fund grants provide food for thought. First, Alexander McNaughton, a student at Simon Fraser University, BC receives a $5,000 grant for Growing Chefs (, a project to bring a large, versatile garden set-up to both indoor and outdoor classroom settings in conjunction with an existing sustainability and youth engagement cooking and gardening program. Alexander wants to connect the ideas behind sustainability and local food systems to youth in an engaging and empowering way, providing them with hands on learning opportunities. University of Manitoba student, Evan Bowness is launching an Intergenerational Gardening Project in partnership with the South Osborne Community Cooperative ( The $5,000 grant will help Evan to connect children, youth and adults through community gardening, prepare a solid framework for the 2012 growing season and build connections between community members through delivering three educational workshops. Also, Kelsey Morin, Mount Royal University, AB will use her $5,000 grant to explore gardening of a different kind. She will develop and pilot a process for growing a variety of foods using Aquaponics - a hydroponic system that uses a fish tank as the nutrient source. She intends to use aquaponics as a food safety and security option in Alberta and beyond.

Cole Nadalin of Lambton College, ON will use his $2,000 grant to build an on-site composter to convert campus waste into fertile soil. The Lambton College Organic Waste Composting and Sustainable Food System will also use the campus greenhouse to grow vegetables for the Culinary Management and Culinary Skills program ( and for the campus restaurant. Athina Conner of Camosun College, BC will also launch a Compost Program Initiative. Her $2,800 grant will be allocated to the installation of 12 anaerobic digesters, also known as Green Cones for compost, develop a raised bed herb garden for the Culinary Arts program and foster collaboration between various departments, faculty and staff.

Workshops and engagement are another broad theme for some of the IMPACT! Fund grants. Catherine Gauthier from l'Université Montréal, PQ receives $3,500 for her project : Délégation de la jeunesse de Québec: Engagez - vous! ( The project will raise awareness in Quebec on the role of youth in international climate change negotiations through 20 workshops/conferences that encourage and support youth projects to help reduce their personal GHG emissions. Lisa Prince, University of Guelph, ON will deliver her workshop: Food for Thought: Food Justice and Sustainability to 250 participants over the course of the Global Youth Volunteer Network Orientation weekend. Her $3,840 grant also funds the creation of bilingual workshop material to be used by GYVN chapters ( across Canada.

In Nova Scotia, three IMPACT! Fund grants support awareness raising and skill-building workshops. First, Emilie Novaczek of University of Kings College, NS will use her $5,000 grant to expand the Wings of Change workshops ( - already piloted in BC, Manitoba, Ontario and NS - to reach high school students in even more locations.  James Hutt, also of University of Kings College, NS will use his $4,000 grant for Climate Justice Spring Break, a workshop/camp for knowledge and skill-building to mobilize youth on climate change. The grant also supports an ongoing climate issues networking forum in Halifax. Finally, Shea Balish of Dalhousie University, NS will use his $5,000 grant for Rural Representatives. This project develops leadership skills for university students from rural communities including how to engage youth and the town council in their home communities to support sustainable approaches. The project also provides an on-campus network to build coalitions among rural students.

Sustainability calls for creativity and that certainly describes these projects:

Adam Vaiya of Humber College, ON wants to show that a lot of creativity and a little bit of money go a long way. His $600 grant will fund the construction of The Fantastic Plastic Eating Wall of Fungi, a living wall that sustains rot fungus while breaking down plastics and environmentally detrimental synthetic chemicals. The project will also help foster collaboration between professors and students from Humber College and the University of Toronto.

Jessica Tremblay-Flamand, Cégep de Saint-Jérome, PQ will launch Co-op Roue-Libre with her $5,000 grant. The project will provide space, tools and workshops for community members to learn more about bike maintenance and repair, the importance of alternative transportation and healthy living. Volunteers will also collect and repair used bicycles to give them a second life.

2009 IMPACT! Alumni Recipients

Alla Guelber from Royal Roads University, AB receives a third IMPACT! Fund grant for her Meaningful Work Retreat. This $3,000 grant builds on the success of the in three ways. First, the grant helps create and pilot a process called LifeJam that focuses on supporting the 'how' of social entrepreneurship. Second, it funds the creation of a LifeJam instruction manual. Finally, it allows the project to use professional facilitators to develop the program and train the Meaningful Work team to run it self-sufficiently.

Charlotte Lambert, from l'Université du Québec à Montréal, PQ will be recycling with a $5,000 grant. Her project: From Laundry to Landscape will install a wastewater filtration and redistribution system to move wastewater from a Montreal laundromat to a local garden. Biological tests will be done on plants to demonstrate how wastewater can be reused once it is filtered and further tests will compare the quality of the filtered laundromat water to tap water.

A third IMPACT! Fund grant of $5,000 helps Saskatchewan native and current Oxford University student, Ellen Quigley, to pursue her dream of replacing bottled water with tap water at events throughout Saskatchewan. A past grant recipient, the We Are Many, Water Station ( project will raise awareness of the water station through the creation of a new display and will expand the volunteer program throughout Saskatchewan.

Keleigh Annau, of Mount Allison University, N-B continues to grow Lights Out Canada ( the energy conservation and education project she founded at the age of 16. A third IMPACT! Fund grant for Keleigh, $7,000 expands the Lights Out Canada Provincial Ambassador Project with new volunteers and new schools for an anticipated total student and teacher participation of over 170,000 in 2012.

Finally, Eliese Watson is committed to restoring bumblebee colonies. That's why she'll partner with Mount Royal University, AB and apply her third IMPACT! Fund grant to The Bumblebee Rescue and Foster Parent Program ( which helps rescue bumblebee colonies in problematic locations & place them with new 'foster family' locations for their safety. The $7,000 grant also supports research, volunteer coordination and student staff positions for the 'rescues'.

Jill Doucette from the University of Victoria, BC receives a $2,000 grant for her Business Sustainability Internships Project. The funds will create student internship positions at Synergy Enterprises where Jill is Co-Founder & Director of Client Engagement ( As interns, students will work with local small businesses to help them reduce the impacts of their business operations.

For further information:

Leonard Sharman
The Co-operators

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