Gift marks largest individual donation to a Canadian women's
TORONTO, Oct. 25, 2011 /CNW/ - The Canadian Women's Foundation, Canada's public foundation dedicated to improving the lives of women
and girls, is receiving a donation of over $14 million from celebrated
music composer and Order of Canada Member, Ann Southam. The gift from
Southam, who passed away in November 2010 at age 73, is the largest
single donation a community-based Canadian women's organization has
ever received from an individual. It will take the Canadian Women's
Foundation work to a new level.
Beverley Wybrow, President & CEO of Canadian Women's Foundation, said
she was "stunned" when she learned of Southam's generosity. "Ann cared
passionately about making positive change for women and girls in
Canada," says Wybrow. "She was involved with the Foundation for more
than 12 years, as a donor, volunteer, and a spokesperson on behalf of
strategic philanthropy benefiting women and girls. She got involved in
our work because we shared her values. I believe she found a home with
Southam was one of Canada's most notable women composers, and an
inspired philanthropist. She was born in Winnipeg but lived most of her
life in Toronto. She began composing music at the age of 15. After
studying at the University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatory of
Music, she launched a highly successful career composing music for
modern dance companies, such as the Toronto Dance Theatre. She also
taught at the Royal Conservatory. Southam once compared writing music
and playing the piano to traditional women's work such as weaving,
saying it required the same kind of time and patience. Ann was an
inspired philanthropist committed to changing the world through
investing in women and girls. She supported shelters for abused women,
programs to help women get out of poverty by getting into trades and
technology careers, and programs building resiliency in girls. She
believed in the power of women helping other women and girls.
Southam's brother Kip says he couldn't be happier about his sister's
gift to the Foundation. "Ann was passionate about many things, but
issues for women and girls were particularly close to her heart," he
says. "I know the money will be put to very, very good use."
The Foundation will invest the majority of Southam's gift in its new Ann Southam Empowerment Fund, an endowment to help make the Foundation permanent for the women and
girls of Canada. It will generate annual earnings to help support the
Foundation's ongoing programs and operations.
Southam's gift will also help to double the size of the Foundation's Girls' Fund, a program she helped to found in 2006.
"There is so much pressure on girls today and they lose ground as they
reach adolescence," Southam said in a 2007 interview. "My dream is to
get to them before that and give them every chance in the world to
Girls' Fund programs address challenges facing girls aged 9 to 13, a
time when many girls experience a serious decline in self-esteem along
with high rates of sexual assault and depression. In the programs,
girls learn how to stay safe, how to develop their critical thinking
and decision-making skills, and how to challenge media stereotypes that
sexualize women and girls and limit their potential. These skills are
the building blocks that help girls grow stronger inside and out, and
create a solid foundation for a bright future.
Southam strongly believed in women using the power of their own money
through charitable giving to help other women and girls. Southam's
donation is an example of the new trend of women's philanthropy, where
women target their charitable giving to causes that directly affect
women and girls. Women are also more likely to give to organizations
that challenge the common idea of charity and take a transformative
approach to solving economic and social problems, and to use charitable
giving in a way that builds communities.
"Ann was special and unique. She was also unassuming - she really didn't
care about personal recognition," says Wybrow. "But she would
absolutely love the idea that her final gift might inspire others to
give women and girls a chance for a better life. When asked why she was
so committed to help women and girls, she would say that helping women
helps us all - invest in women and they go on to help their families,
communities, and societies. And she would then add her favourite saying
'And don't forget, when women have power, girls can dream!'"
About Canadian Women's Foundation
Canadian Women's Foundation is Canada's public foundation dedicated to
giving women and girls a chance for a better life. The Foundation
invests in programs that move women and girls out of violence, out of
poverty, and into confidence. Since 1991, it has supported more than
1,100 community programs across Canada. It is one of the ten largest
women's foundations in the world. For more information please visit http://www.canadianwomen.org/.
SOURCE Canadian Women's Foundation
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