March 2021

In response to a recent report and decision made by the HWDSB trustees to issue sanctions following breaches of their code of conduct, the Board of Directors and staff representing the Hamilton Foundation for Student Success (HFSS) reaffirms its ongoing commitment to advancing human rights, equity and inclusion.

The following is a statement from Ian Brisbin, HFSS Board Chair:

“The Hamilton Foundation for Student Success (HFSS) believes that racism of any kind has no place in our society and must be eradicated from schools and workplaces. We also recognize and acknowledge that systemic racism and oppression negatively impacts students and families in our diverse community.

In doing our part, the HFSS reaffirms its ongoing commitment to reviewing all of its governance practices and structures. We will continue to be supportive and responsive to the needs of historically underserved students – this includes speaking up for students when systemic barriers prevent their success.

Through its values of being responsible, equitable, transparent and inclusive, HFSS aims to be a resource for students in the public school board to address injustice. Working to remedy academic disparity as a result of systemic and individual marginalization is central to our mission. HFSS remains determined to pursue opportunities that will help students learn, grow and succeed.”


February 2021

Showcase of heARTS Raises Over $40,000 for HWDSB Students

They say never judge a book by its cover. But as soon as the stunning animations lit up computer screens across Hamilton, the first thing viewers noticed was how great the drawings looked. The animations were created by Glendale Secondary School’s student artists to welcome participants to the Showcase of heARTS. The February 4 event was organized to raise funds for HWDSB students while celebrating their artistic achievements.

Unlike other years, HFSS had to host the gala virtually where guests enjoyed both live and pre-recorded materials with real time engagements and interactions. The online nature of the event allowed more student participation than ever before. A wide number of schools shared their talents with performances from disciplines such as music, drama, visual arts, and more.

For the second year in a row, Max Francis, creator and founder of True Hamiltonian, was the Master of Ceremonies. He was joined by student co-host Arjun Ram of Westmount Secondary School student.

Throughout the years, HFSS’s fundraising gala has proven to be critical in boosting resources to support HWDSB students to overcome barriers so they can thrive and reach their full potential. This year, the Showcase of heARTS was of particular importance. COVID-19 has led to a dramatic increase in the need for supports.

We are thankful for all our donors and sponsors for another year of success. The Showcase of heARTS raised $40,000! The money will support students whose families do not have the financial means to access the resources they need to be successful at school. Student Support Grants help ensure that students are able to access the advantages of extra-curricular activities, class trips, music lessons, sporting groups or clubs, and more. Hamilton families can find comfort in knowing that we are here to make sure their children have appropriate winter clothing to play outside or access to nutritious lunch. None of this would be possible without the generosity of our community.

For those of you looking to relive the Showcase of heARTS performances, you can find a video playlist here.


March 14, 2020

COVID – 19 Communication

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation evolves through North America, Hamilton Foundation for Student Success is operating with an abundance of caution.

As part of the March Break and provincial school closures, the HWDSB Ed Centre – where the Foundation’s office is located – is closed until April 5. Foundation staff will be working off site with email and phones being monitored during this time.

Should you wish to make a donation in support of HWDSB students struggling during these uncertain times you can do so at:

Please take care of yourself and your family, and we will come out of this stronger than ever, together.


December 2019

Overcoming barriers with the heARTS Wide Open Gala

heARTS Wide Open Gala donors raise $48,660 in one night for the Student Barrier Fund

On Simcoe Street in Hamilton, as the sun rises and before school begins, the sound of basketballs can be heard echoing from the gym at Bennetto Elementary School. Here you will find young students, who need a place to go before school starts, engaging in a friendly game of basketball. On the sidelines, a respected teacher keeps a close eye on the students. He opens the gym early every day and dedicates his morning to providing students with a safe space to stay before the rest of the teachers and students arrive to start the school day.

This was the visual fixed in everyone’s minds at the heARTS Wide Open Gala on Dec. 5, 2019 after a video played, dedicated to the teacher on the sidelines, Archie McQueen. He has been with HWDSB for 50 years and has placed the needs of the students above his own for his entire career. Through donations and volunteering his time, McQueen has helped to pay for class trips, new sports equipment and musical instruments for Bennetto.

After the video played at the Gala, the Hamilton Foundation for Student Success reported that Archie McQueen has returned his salary directly to Bennetto and its students over the past several years, which has resulted in his donations totalling over $100,000.

McQueen is one of the many exceptional examples of individuals who volunteer, donate and make a difference with their generosity. Each of the donors who contribute to the Hamilton Foundation for Student Success make positive changes in student lives by providing funds to enhance school programs or helping to fulfill everyday needs, such as clothing or breakfast.

The heARTS Wide Open Gala supports specifically the Student Barrier Fund, one of the many grants and scholarships provided to students through the Foundation. The night, filled with live entertainment performed by students, raised $48,660 for the fund, which helps students in need to overcome financial barriers.

In addition to honouring Archie McQueen for his contributions to HWDSB students, Student Success Mentor and Chair of the Prom Project, Krysta Bucci, was the first recipient of the Circle of Excellence Award. Her contributions to schools and her leadership in the Prom Project have helped students to have equal opportunities to participate in school activities and succeed.

Max Francis, an avid supporter of the arts in Hamilton, also donated his time as the emcee for the evening. Keeping the guests entertained, he introduced the talented students from Glendale and Westmount Secondary Schools and shared his appreciation for the donors and explained he was one of the students who benefitted from help from people like them.

The evening began with a small string ensemble and dramatic performances throughout the venue. Students from Glendale Secondary School shared their respect for the Indigenous peoples with a Land Acknowledgement, which was spoken by students standing throughout the room, echoing one another’s voices. Glendale students also displayed their artistic talent through a dance number and an acapella voice performance during the evening. These performances were followed by Westmount Secondary School who closed the evening with a musical performance from their group, Jazz One.

The Hamilton Foundation for Student Success’ mission is to engage the community and support HWDSB students to overcome barriers so they can thrive and reach their full potential. Thank you to all of the donors for another year of student success.