Funding Community Based or Service Learning Projects

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that finding funding to support community based learning projects is not a priority role of the teacher.   Part of sharing roles and responsibilities is collaborating with your CLC coordinator or community partners to pull together financial and human resources to meet the needs of the school and community.

Often a big question to ask is, what is the goal of the project?  Often, school boards and community partners share those goals and CBSL projects can contribute to achieving them.  Is it student perseverance?  Is it a safe and healthy community?

Over the last few years, we have observed a niche role of some CLC coordinator is sitting on local and regional Table de Concertation.  The efforts of the coordinator ensures the school is literally at the table when discussions take place about how funds supporting healthy communities (Québec en Forme) or student perseverance (Réunir Réussir (R2) should be used.   In the spirit of collective impact, speak to your CLC coordinator about the type of services available and what criteria must be met.  Services could dovetail with community based learning or service learning projects.

All that being said.  Below are some examples of grants that a school can easily apply for;


Forming networks key to CBSL project success


A successful Community-based Service Learning project (CBSL) forms networks among schools, community members, and other teachers to give students positive and educational experiences, agreed teachers at this year’s CLC Teacher Institute.

The conference, held on Jan. 21 and 22, brought together teachers from across the province to share ideas and build stronger connections for their own CBSL projects.

Melissa Laroque, a grade five teacher at the Gault Institute in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, said hearing about successful projects from other schools encouraged the creative use of resources specific to a region, especially in communities with limited finances.

“We come from small areas and you hear about other schools like, ‘Oh, they have salmon,’” she said, referring to a salmon-spawning project at Gaspé Elementary in Gaspé, QC. “You really have to work with what you have.”

During a brainstorming session on enhancing CBSL projects, white poster paper decorated with rainbow-coloured Post-it notes and felt markers outlined the aspects that worked and others that needed improvement.

Actively involving students and building self-esteem were among the list of priorities echoed by many educators.

“You have to be passionate,” said one teacher. “But the fact is, students need to be passionate, too”.

You can view photos from the CLC Teacher Institute by clicking here.

Service Learning at Gaspé Elementary

What a trip to Gaspé! I won’t lie, one of the best parts of my job is the chance to visit schools across our CLC network.

Upon arriving at Gaspé elementary, I met Jan and Pam Patterson (no relation) in the staff room along with many new and familiar faces. I heard about the great projects taking place and being planned.

The day before I arrived, students participated in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. I sat in on the grade 6 class and saw the graphs they created in math class showing the different types of garbage they had cleared.

Once they analyze the graphs with the grade 5 class, the moment will be ripe to develop solutions that address the problem of domestic and fishing industry waste washingup on the local beaches.  That is service learning.

In the elementary cycle 3 ERC class, the students read the book Beatrice’s Goat. Afterwards, students discussed the meaning of the book and were inspired by the story of how a donation of a goat to a family can have a positive, long term economic benefit for children, including increased access to education.  Next steps for the ERC class included researching charities like Heifer International to choose the best organization to receive a donation.

I have a suspicion the ease with which the children were moved to action is due to a project from last year, where a former student teacher connected students with a class in Malawi. A relationship was forged between the two classes, through an exchange of letters and a skype call.  Gaspe students raised money for books, collecting enough in fact to build a physical library.  That seems like a whole story in itself.  Any reporters or authors out there?

I really could go on…and I will.  A few days later I visited Belle Anse Elementary and had another extraordinary visit.  Click here to hear (homonym) the story of the harvest meal and official opening of the school library, thanks to the Indigo-Love of Reading Foundation.

CLCs and Aboriginal Reconciliation

Last year a quarter of Community Learning Centres researched and implemented Community-Based Service Learning projects contributing to Aboriginal Reconciliation.

The annual Tell Them From Me  survey alerted the network that 12% of students in CLCs self-identified as Aboriginal.  One quarter of CLCs felt it was important to support the success of all aboriginal and non-aboriginal students by ensuring conditions existed for a sense of belonging and strong attachment to the school through the integration of aboriginal history in the curriculum and reconciliation around the residential school experience.

Students and teachers participated in the national  Project of Hope initiative and students exhibited active citizenship through the promotion of Shannon’s Dream.  In many cases,  partnerships were developed  with local Aboriginal partners.

Below is a collection of resources appropriate for students to learn about the residential school experience and partner with local Aboriginal communities to include all histories in school and take the opportunity to be active citizens.  Click here to download the activity sheet of Aboriginal reconciliation projects.  Click here to access a timeline to help with planning.

Project of Heart

Resources in English and French

Target Audience: Everyone…Students, Teachers, Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Community Members

Project of Heart” is an inquiry based, hands-on, collaborative, inter-generational, artistic journey of seeking truth about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada. Its purpose is to:

  • Examine the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada and to seek the truth about that history, leading to the acknowledgement of the extent of loss to former students, their families and communities
  • Commemorate the lives of the thousands of Indigenous children who died as a result of the residential school experience.
  • Call Canadians to action, through social justice endeavors, to change our present and future history collectively.

Legacy of Hope – 100 Years of Loss

Resources in English and French

Target Audience:  Youth ages 11-18

The Legacy of Hope Foundation developed two new educational products targeted to Canadian youth aged 11-18. Both products were designed to support educators and administrators in raising awareness and teaching about the history and legacy of residential schools.

The Blanket Exercise

Target Audience: Grades 4-8 and Grades 9-12/Adult

A teaching tool by KAIROS to raise awareness and understanding of the nation to nation relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.  The Blanket Exercise is an interactive way of learning the history most Canadians are never taught.

Two scripts are included: one for youth and adults, the other for children and younger teens. The exercise uses blankets to represent the lands of what is now called Canada, and the distinct cultures and nations which live on those lands to this day. Participants represent the First Peoples; when they move onto the blankets, they are taken back in time to the arrival of the Europeans. The Narrator and a European (or two) work with the participants to read a script while the exercise goes through the history of treaty-making, colonization and resistance that resulted in the nation we today call Canada.  Lisa Howell, a teacher at Pierre Elliott Trudeau CLC has adapted the script of The Blanket Exercise.

 First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada-Shannen’s Dream

Resources in English and French

Target Audience: All Ages

Shannen Koostachin, youth education advocate from the Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario, had a dream: safe and comfy schools and culturally based education for First Nations children and youth. Shannen worked tirelessly to try to convince the Federal government to give First Nations children a proper education before tragically passing away at the age of 15 years old in 2010. Named in her memory, the campaign engages Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples to better understand the education inequities and to take action to ensure all First Nations children and young people attend good schools and receive a proper education that prepares them to achieve their dreams and be proud of their distinct cultures and languages.

The FN Caring Society offers resources to engage youth with the opportunity to raise awareness among their peers about the inequities faced by First Nations children and youth. It also promotes ways that children, youth, and communities can collaborate, think creatively about the future, and inspire hope for others in making a difference. In supporting child and youth engagement, communities and organizations support tomorrow’s future leaders!

 Protecting our Sacred Water


Learning for a Sustainable Future, the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, and a group of First Nation and Métis Elders and educators, the LSF has created a guide called “Protecting our Sacred Water.”

Protecting our Sacred Water helps educators and youth program facilitators bring education for sustainable development to their students/youth in a transformative way through action projects. The guide provides tools for teachers to help youth choose a project topic and how to carry it out through the integration of FNMI ways of knowing. It is important that Aboriginal youth; Canada’s fastest growing and most marginalized population, see themselves as leaders in creating change. When youth are meaningfully engaged throughout the entire process, they are more likely to make positive changes for themselves and their community.

Action Project Funding is available to assist youth-led action that include activities from the guide.