Over the decades, the family has given back to the community and charitable causes in wide-reaching and important ways, in some cases being the founding visionaries of projects and institutions.
The Samuel Family Foundation has taken forward this legacy through many efforts supporting the arts, healthcare and education. Early beneficiaries such as the Royal Ontario Museum and the University of Toronto are enduring examples of the family's vision of community building.
The Samuel Family Foundation is an extension of the Samuel Family and the Corporation that makes that possible. The Foundation was established by Ernest and Elizabeth Samuel to give back to the community and to foster community building.
Under the leadership of Kim Samuel, President and Chair, the Foundation has also engaged in efforts aimed at global poverty alleviation, disability rights and human and indigenous rights, environmental sustainability, education and youth programs.
Through 2009-2014, the Samuel Family Foundation has been active in supporting initiatives in each of these sectors. Significant partnerships have included:
- Special Olympics International where contributions helped found the family support programme and further fostered connectedness and access to sport and community for individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families.
- The design and development of the social connectedness initiative and programming in partnership with Synergos Institute, Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation and the Foundation for Community Development in Mozambique in southern Africa to support new strategies and interventions designed to overcome social isolation and build pathways to connectedness among children.
- As a lead partner, the Samuel Family Foundation supported the development of the Global Environmental Performance Index (EPI)- a joint project between the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy (YCELP) and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. The EPI ranks how well countries perform on high-priority environmental issues in two broad policy areas - human health from environmental harm and protection of ecosystems. The EPI gives decision-makers access to important environmental data organized in a way that is easily understandable, useful, and drives productive competition. The EPI has emerged as an important and innovative indicator now employed by Health Canada and jurisdictions around the world.
- Emerging partnership efforts with Indigenous communities in Canada to address youth education and employment outcomes through supporting community self-determination and cultural reclamation.
Contributions have also supported individuals and communities to address broader challenges of poverty and inequality by facilitating and building partnerships within Canada and internationally. Contributions have supported enhanced research and technology within the health sector increasing access and accessibility.
In the Fall of 2014, the Samuel Family Foundation convened the first global symposium “Overcoming Social Isolation and Deepening Social Connectedness” bringing together many of its partners and diverse partnership initiatives within one integrated and coherent framework to increase understanding and to directly support action.
The Symposium brought together an extraordinary network of Canadian and global leaders, thinkers, practitioners, educators, policy-shapers and journalists with powerful experiences and expertise related to isolation and social connectedness. The aim of the symposium was to launch a global movement around these issues. Symposium participants shared state-of-the field research, exchanged experiences about the best approaches to enhance social connectedness, and helped begin to build an inspired community of practice. Information about the symposium and the ongoing efforts can be found at www.socialconnectedness.org
Moving forward, the Samuel Family Foundation will continue to lead this effort through convening, enabling and supporting partners pursuing work that directly supports social connectedness.
Kim Samuel is the President and Chair of the Samuel Family Foundation.