Girls Inc. Limestone celebrates receipt of $96,000 OTF Grant

Girls Inc. staff and administration celebrated the award online with special guests from the government. Screen captured image.

On Tuesday, Apr. 18, 2023, Girls Inc. Limestone held an online recognition celebration marking their receipt of a $96,600 Resilient Communities Fund grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF).

The funding is earmarked to help the organization prepare and launch a multi-year fundraising campaign, which will expand a critical program for school-age girls and has already begun.

“We are so grateful for the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s support of our work to help  girls lead happier, safer, and more productive lives,” enthused Angela Lyons, President, Girls Inc. Limestone. “This funding comes at a crucial time when girls are still recovering from heightened gender inequality, family violence, and economic hardship caused by COVID-19.” 

Girls Inc. Limestone provides life-skills education and mentoring programs for girls and young women from six to 24 years of age. For example, in Kingston they host an after-school program for girls in first to eighth grade, a leadership program for girls in grades six to eight and a Teen Advocacy Council for ages 14 to 18.

“Girls Inc. Limestone… are at the heart of girls’ lives and the forefront of the girls’ rights movement,” the organization states on their website. “With programs grounded in research and tested in the field, our organization celebrates and empowers girls and young women and advocates for an equitable world.”

The OTF grant, awarded in the spring of 2022, has already allowed Girls Incorporated to rebuild and recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by hiring staff and experts to prepare for the launch of a capital program delivery campaign later this year. 

In a release, Girls Inc. Limestone explained that their capital program delivery campaign will go to improving well-being, equitable opportunities, and outcomes by delivering research-based curricula in a positive environment for more than 8,000 self-identified girls in Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, Hastings, and Prince Edward Counties. 

Ted Hsu, MPP for Kingston and the Islands, was on hand to congratulate Girls Inc. on their award, as was MPP Ric Bresee of Hastings—Lennox and Addington.

“I know that Girls Inc. has done a lot of work, helping young women and girls to build character and strength and confidence,” observed Hsu. “I think that if you have programs that are carefully thought out, girls will learn what they can learn. They’ll tell themselves, ‘Hey, I can learn this thing that I didn’t know I could,’ or ‘I could do this other thing that I didn’t know I could do!’ It opens doors, builds confidence, and it’s a lifelong impact that these programs have.”

(Centre)Ted Hsu, MPP for Kingston and the Islands, was on hand to congratulate Girls Inc. on their grant award, as was MPP Ric Bresee of Hastings—Lennox and Addington and Charmaine Williams, the MPP for Brampton Centre, who serves as Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity for Ontario (centre right), and Bonnie Grace of the OTF (bottom right). Screen captured image.

He especially noted the work Girls Inc. does with girls who face significant barriers, saying, “I can see why [you have] been rewarded with an Ontario Trillium Fund Grant… please keep doing all the work that you’re doing.”

MPP Ric Breese was also on the live video event.  He extended his own congratulations, but ceded most of his speaking time to his colleague, Charmaine Williams, the MPP for Brampton Centre who serves as Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity for Ontario. The Minister praised the work of Girls Inc. Limestone noting that she was very impressed by the fine work they do, and offered to be a direct contact should they need anything in future.

Bresee noted, “When women succeed, the world succeeds. Empowering girls to be strong women is the surest path to a prosperous future for us all! I am so happy to see the OTF supporting Girls Inc. as it continues to build up young women in the post-COVID world.” 

Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, was not present for the event, but sent his comments, stating, “I am pleased to see that our government is providing support to Girls Inc. through the Ontario Trillium Foundation because giving young women the tools they need to empower each other to overcome adversity will allow the province of Ontario to succeed. Congratulations again to Girls Inc. I cannot wait to see what you achieve.”

John Jordan, MPP for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston also sent his comments, though he did not attend the event.  He noted, “An investment of $96,600 from the Ontario Trillium Fund towards Girls Incorporated is a signal to the young women of Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston that their voice is being heard. Our government acknowledges the difficulties faced by girls in uniquely challenging circumstances and we believe in the power of a caring, supportive community. This grant enables more opportunities for a better outcome when girls can reach out and find the help they need when they need it most.” 

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. Last year, OTF invested nearly $209 million into 2,042 community projects and partnerships, which included funding for Ontario’s Community Building Fund. Visit otf.ca to learn more.

Girls Inc. was founded in as Big Sisters Kingston in 1972, and has since grown to serve more than 1,000 girls each year throughout Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, Hastings, and Prince Edward County. More information can be found on the Girls Inc. Limestone website.

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