2021 Annual Report

See how your faith, hope and love transformed our community in 2021.

Our Mission

We exist to increase resiliency and inspire BIG dreams for Canadian children living in low-income communities by providing inspirational experiences and nurturing personal relationships, one child at a time.

Our Big Dream

That one day, in the not so distant future, we will see the end of child poverty in Canada and every child would have equal opportunity to thrive, to dream big and to reach their full potential.

Our Values

We are a people of FAITH We are a community of HOPE We are servants of LOVE
Or read it below*

Letter from our Executive Director and Chair of the Board of Directors

After a full year of living and working within the parameters of a pandemic, we at CityKidz greeted 2021 with a bold sense of purpose and a burgeoning feeling of hope. 

Over the previous year, we had witnessed first-hand the financial and emotional strain the pandemic had put on our children, youth and their families. We saw that vulnerable children needed love and support more than ever. So we found silver linings and focused our energies on everything we could do to meet the material, emotional and spiritual needs of our community. 

With the lessons and opportunities of 2020 firmly in our minds, we set out with big dreams and a firm understanding of the adaptability and grace we would need to meaningfully serve our children, youth, and families. 

Our focus last year was on being present in the community, meeting children and caregivers where they were, responding to their needs, and offering personalized support however possible. 

We continued our pandemic response program, the CityKidz Cares Project, including Enhanced Home Visits, online mentorship and interactive digital content. Seeing an opportunity to do more for our families, we also launched a new initiative of delivering monthly Family Meal Kits. 

We don’t know all the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the CityKidz community, but we know that, with people like you at our side, we will face them all with hope in our hearts. 

Thank you for all your kindness in 2021! We look forward to rebuilding our programs and emerging stronger than ever so that we can continue to transform lives with you in 2022! 

Rev. Todd Bender
Founder & Executive Director

Cathy O’Donnell
Chair of Board of Directors

2021 Highlights

7,662 Toys

were distributed
to Hamilton children
at Christmas


registered CityKidz

Birthday Gifts

were delivered to more than 900 children

83 Youth

attended pizza


were distributed to over 800 children during Enhanced Home Visits

More than 800

children received
ongoing Home Visits

Over 600

families received a
monthly Family Meal Kit between July and December

We Hosted

18 virtual Roadmaps
to Dreams sessions

247 New

children registered
for our programs


registered CityYouth

202 Care Kits

were delivered to
Hamilton families

26 Youth

received an Education
Fund Award

190 Youth Packs

filled with treats and snacks were sent out to our teen participants


registered KinderKidz

44 Youth

graduated from our
CityYouth and Roadmaps to Dreams programs

2021 Community Impact

In our pursuit of child and youth well-being, CityKidz has created a unique program model that supports positive transformation in the lives of our children, youth and their families. Our program model is a progressive journey to see children rise above their circumstances and to pursue and achieve their dreams. 

Throughout the pandemic, we have focused largely on the Love and Acceptance objective through our CityKidz Cares and CityKidz Connects programs. 

CityKidz Connects builds relationships with children, youth and their families.

CityKidz Cares offers immediate crisis intervention, advocacy support, and connections to community resources to assist parents and caregivers in providing a nurturing home. 

These two programs are at the foundation of the CityKidz Program Model and are offered to all children, youth and their families within the CityKidz community.

In 2021, we surveyed 102 families with children registered in CityKidz programs. This survey was intended to help us better understand the caregivers and neighbourhoods we serve and gain insights into how we can better support our community. These were some of our findings and how we are working to address the issues facing our participants:

Only 38% of families reported that the homes in their neighbourhoods were secure, safe and affordable. Over 60% of respondents believed that their neighbourhood was a safe place for children to play ‘some of the time’ or ‘rarely’.

How we’re helping:

  • CityKidz provides a free, safe, fun and supportive environment for children and
    youth to learn and grow.
  • Our program model is focused on ensuring that children and youth experience a life
    that is safe, secure and filled with love and acceptance.
  • Family Meal Kits and Care Kits help to offset food costs for families, thereby easing
    the financial burden facing struggling families.
Parents reported that they believe many children and youth living in their neighbourhoods do not have access to adequate nutrition to support healthy living.

How we’re helping:

  • CityKidz delivers Family Meal Kits, lunches, snacks and Care Kits to our families,
    many of whom have expressed that they are struggling with food security.
  • Over 600 families received monthly Family Meal Kits from July to December.
  • Lunches were delivered to more than 800 children during Enhanced Home Visits.
  • 202 Care Kits were delivered to families that were experiencing heightened adversity.
93% of participants reported that CityKidz has had a positive impact on their family.

How we’re helping:

  • •CityKidz activities provide a healthy outlet for kids to have fun.
  • CityKidz helps create a healthy stress release for households.
  • CityKidz provides support for families and connection with a caring community.
  • Connection Visits provide an opportunity for children and families to build safe relationships
    with CityKidz staff and volunteers.

Stories of Hope: Marilia Fonseca

“Overall my life would be so much different if I didn’t go to CityKidz” says 20-year-old Marilia.

The words ‘super’ comes up a lot in her descriptions of her time at CityKidz. The bus, the theatres, the volunteers: super coolsuper fun, and super nice respectively.

In addition to all the fun that came with each CityKidz Saturday, Marilia credits the program with helping her develop her sense of both herself and the world.


Weston Family Scholars

Bringing Big Dreams to Life through Higher Education

The Education Fund, made possible by the generous support of the Weston Family Foundation, is our way of supporting CityYouth and Roadmaps to Dreams graduates who pursue post-secondary education. This scholarship provides yearly financial support to help offset the costs associated with their continuing education.

The pandemic posed many new and significant academic and financial barriers to youth hoping to pursue post-secondary education. Nevertheless, last year we were able to award one new post-secondary education scholarship. 

realizing their dreams by starting their post-secondary education at schools across Ontario.  

Sarah Lunguana

Business Administration and Marketing
Mohawk College

Additionally, 26 previous scholarship recipients continued their college and university journey. There were also plenty of high school students on the path towards higher learning in 2021. In honour of their ambitions and hard work, we presented a small financial award to seven of our high school students to encourage them in pursuit of their dreams.

Crystal Carter

Matthew Dawson

Theo Kiadii

Madison Krulicki 

Harji Narula

Coral Routledge 

Ben Roy

2021 Supporters and Corporate Partners

Thank you so much for the ongoing, inspiring support of our faithful partners!

Their dedicated support helped ensure CityKidz children received the material, emotional and spiritual support they needed to make it through another difficult year.

Platinum Corporate Partner

Platinum Corporate Partner

Diamond Corporate Partners

Gold Corporate Partners

Bronze Corporate Partners

Special Thanks

Foundations and Grants

Thank you so much to the generous foundations and grants who believe in the incredible potential of our amazing CityKidz children and youth.  

ArcelorMittal Foundation 

Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities 

Charity of Hope 

Government of Canada’s Emergency Support Fund 

Enterprise Holdings Foundation 

GWD Foundation for Kids 

Hamilton Community Foundation 

Niagara Community Foundation 

Weston Family Foundation

Financial Report

Once again, the CityKidz community has astonished and humbled us with their generosity. Every program, project and initiative we do at CityKidz is made possible by donors big and small who choose to financially support our mission. Thank you! 

We are honoured by your faith in our mission and trust in our stewardship of the resources you share. We understand the responsibility of using your investments efficiently to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the children, youth and families we serve. 

In 2021, the CityKidz donor community entrusted us with $2,506,702 to invest in the lives of children growing up with the challenges of poverty. Thank you. 

Last year, $2,044,536 of our revenue went directly towards new projects and programs developed to help our children through the second year of the pandemic. The rest was used to cover the operating expenses – including staff wages, building, fundraising and administrative expenses – necessary to bring our programs to life. 

Financial values are based on approved draft Audited Statements. Our T3010 and Financial statements will be available in late May 2022 at citykidz.ca

Strategic Priorities

Renewing Hope

The pandemic has, in many ways, tested our resiliency as an organization. Thanks to your unwavering support, we are proud to say that we have been able to weather the storm of COVID-19 and help our children and families do the same. 

As we begin to carefully emerge from the pandemic and its accompanying restrictions, we are grateful for all the lessons these past two years have bestowed upon us, and excited for all the opportunities that lay ahead. 

This year, our focus will be on rebuilding much of what was lost over the past two years – our in-person programming and the personal, trust and community-building connections to kids. We look forward to once again providing our children and youth with a safe space to learn, grow, share and celebrate. With your support, we know we will finish this year stronger than ever. 

Our key strategic priorities in 2022 are to: 

  • Transition from our pandemic programming response (the CityKidz Cares Project) and invest in rebuilding permanent programming in line with our new program model, including the development of outdoor space for our kids and youth. 

  • Develop a new multi-year strategy to ensure the work of CityKidz continues to achieve deep, meaningful impact in the lives of vulnerable children and families. 

  • Continue to increase our organizational capacity through staff training, volunteer development and improving our internal processes.

Looking Forward

This year, our focus will be on rebuilding much of what was lost over the past two years, that is, our in-person programming.  

While we found new ways to nurture personal, loving and community-building connections with our kids throughout the pandemic, we look forward to once again providing our children and youth with a shared safe space to learn, grow and celebrate. 

We have already restarted our in-person CityYouth mentorship program and this May, we’ll be hosting our CityKidz Saturday program in our Studio Theatre. 

We look forward to singing, dancing and celebrating with our children just like we used to before the pandemic. We’ve got lots of new stories, games and lessons to share with them as we begin the careful process of reviving our regular programming. We can’t wait to see their beautiful faces and vibrant souls in our theatre again. 

This year we are working hard to build the best and strongest version of CityKidz so that we can most effectively meet the needs of our children and their families. As we focus on rebuilding our organizational capacity, we will pause our KinderKidz and Roadmaps to Dreams programs until next year. Our changed world has left us with a lot of work to do to get back to our full program offering, so this year’s focus will be our core programs and serving the biggest population of our children and youth. We look forward to welcoming back the youngest and oldest members of our CityKidz family as soon as possible.  

With your support, we know we will finish this year stronger than ever. And with faith, hope and love, we’ll keep nurturing big dreams in Hamilton’s most vulnerable children.  

Become a Servant of Love

Volunteers Transform Lives

Our volunteers bring with them an incredible assortment of skills. They serve our community by visiting kids, mentoring youth, driving buses, preparing meals, answering phones and sharing their countless other gifts. In a million different ways, they are bringing hope and inspiring big dreams. 

Whether you thrive on the front-line, connecting directly with our kids, prefer to work behind the scenes in an office setting – or something in between – we’ve got a place for your gifts to shine and serve your community! 

To join our volunteer team, please contact volunteer@citykidz.ca for more information.

Driving a bus for CityKidz, you’re so much more than a driver; you’re an integral part of our community of faith, hope and love. CityKidz bus drivers connect children from all corners of the city. They bring children and youth together to learn, grow, and, most-importantly, have fun

Want to connect with and mentor amazing kids on a one-on-one basis? Our Home Visit Team Members do just that! Each week these volunteers visit our kids at their front doors to say hi, encourage big dreams, deliver birthday gifts, meal kits, snacks, treats and more. You’ll get a front row seat as children grow and dream and transform their lives.

At our Wednesday evening program, mentors offer praise and encouragement, comfort and counsel, wisdom and patience to amazing, hopeful youth. They build genuine relationships of trust and support that our youth know they can turn to in their moment of need or celebration.

Looking to liven up your Saturday routine? Bus Team Members join our kids on the bus and in our theatres for CityKidz’ fun and interactive Saturday program. If you’ve ever been a camp counselor or you just like getting silly and having fun with kids ages three to 11, this is the role for you!

Volunteers Transform Lives

Whatever your time, whatever your talents, you can make a transformative difference in a child’s life.

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