The Cowan Foundation and the YMCA team up across Canada to help at-risk youth stay in school through YMCA Alternative Suspension

Montréal, February 13, 2017 – The YMCA and The Cowan Foundation are pleased to announce a commitment of $150,000 from The Cowan Foundation to YMCA Alternative Suspension, a program developed and rolled out nationally by the YMCAs of Québec that supports teens who have been suspended from school. Thanks to The Cowan Foundation’s support over the next three years, troubled teens will have a chance to turn their time away from school into a positive experience. Instead of being at home or on the street and isolated without any kind of guidance, they will have access to personal counselling, and the support and care they need to address the real issues they are facing, giving them a chance to succeed as they return to school. With the support of The Cowan Foundation, thousands of at-risk youth from six YMCA Associations and over a dozen communities across the country in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Québec and Newfoundland will have the support and resources they need to stay in school.

“Donors like The Cowan Foundation make all the difference to the lives of young people by helping them realize their full potential in school and in life. Day in and day out, we hear things like “Now, I know I am able to succeed.” And parents who tell us “I saw a difference in his life and at home.” We also hear it from the schools that the students attend, where teachers tell us that kids that have been suspended are able to come back to school and not be suspended again,” notes Stéphane Vaillancourt, President and CEO, The YMCAs of Québec. “We are deeply grateful to The Cowan Foundation. By encouraging an at-risk student to stay in school, The Cowan Foundation makes a major investment in reducing Canada’s dropout rate and changing young lives forever.”  

Year over year the YMCA Alternative Suspension Program has proven its effectiveness. 85% of youth in the program were able to return to school and avoid future suspension following their participation. Last year alone, the program helped more than 3,000 students in more than 30 communities in six provinces across Canada. 150,000 hours of support from program youth workers helped them become more resilient, reduce their troublesome behaviour, avoid future suspensions, and improve their academic results.

To reach this many kids, the YMCAs across the country work closely with parents, teachers, school and community partners and depend on the generous support of donors like The Cowan Foundation.

“A fundamental value of The Cowan Foundation is to support transformational programs for at-risk children and youth to help build life skills and expand leadership capabilities,” says Heather McLachlin, President, Cowan Insurance Group. “We’re committed to making a difference in the lives of Canadians, investing in the future of our youth, and building better communities. The YMCA Alternative Suspension program has proven success in these areas and we look forward to bringing this program to more communities across Canada.”

 “The YMCA is proud to work with Cowan Insurance Group and The Cowan Foundation, who continue to demonstrate their aim of building healthier communities in Canada through their ongoing support of the YMCA's work. Their support for the YMCA Alternative Suspension program will improve the overall health and well-being of teens across the country, and help to build future leaders for our communities,” says Peter Dinsdale, President and CEO, YMCA Canada.

About the YMCA in Canada
YMCA Canada is the national office providing support to a federation of 48 independent YMCA Associations that collectively represent one of Canada’s longest standing and largest charitable networks. We serve more than 2.1 million people annually, with a special focus on children, teens and young adults. The YMCA’s mandate is to advance the health and well-being of Canadians in spirit, mind and body. Across the country, YMCA Member Associations are providing vital community services that are having a positive impact on some of Canada’s most pressing issues including chronic disease, unemployment, early childhood education, social isolation, poverty, inequality and more.

We offer wrap around programs that help Canadians become physically active, better connected to their communities, and equipped with the skills needed to achieve success in work and life. By addressing the social determinants of health, we are playing an essential role in the building of a healthier Canada today and for generations to come. For more information, please visit ymca.ca.

About the YMCAs of Québec 
The YMCAs of Québec is a charitable organization that builds stronger communities by providing opportunities for everyone to lead fulfilling, active, healthy and engaged lives. Its 10 YMCA centres, International Language School, Residence, Camp YMCA Kanawana and its 40 service sites across the province are visited each year by more than 120,000 people. The first YMCA in North America was founded in Montréal in November 1851. The YMCAs of Québec is part of the Canadian network of 48 YMCA associations. For more information, visit our Facebook and Twitter pages.

About the Cowan Foundation        
The Cowan Foundation was started in 1995 in honour of Frank Cowan, the founder of Frank Cowan Company and Cowan Insurance Group. The Foundation is sustained by the ongoing success of the Princeton Holdings group of companies including Cowan Insurance Group (and its subsidiaries: The Williamson Group, Millennium CreditRisk Management, Wentworth Financial Services and Cowan Financial Solutions), Frank Cowan Company, The Guarantee Company of North America and Cowan Asset Management. Together they provide insurance and risk management products and services for individuals, businesses, organizations and public entities as well as assist employers with their group benefits, retirement and health and disability management plans. The goal of The Cowan Foundation is to make a positive difference in the lives of Canadians and the broader well-being of our communities. www.cowanfoundation.ca  

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For more information, please contact: 

Nathalie Viora
Manager, YMCA Campaign Communications - YMCAs of Québec Foundation

Maggie Hall
Communications Specialist, Cowan Insurance Group
519 650-6363, #31333 / 1-866-912-6926, #31333 / maggie.hall@cowangroup.ca

Peter Sweeney, CEO of the YMCAs of Cambridge, Kitchener/Waterloo Jennifer Holmes Weier, Senior Vice President, Advocacy, Communications and Public Policy, YMCA Canada Carol Parsons, Senior Consultant National Benefits, Cowan Insurance Group Heather McLachlin, President of Cowan Insurance Group Andrew Borrelli, Director, Development, School Perseverance, the YMCA’s of Québec George Kalimeris, National Director, School Perseverance, the YMCA’s of Québec Michael (Mike) Lough, VP, Programs, Frank Cowan Company.