Thursday, August 25, 2022 — Each September, returning to school can be a big source of stress for families. Expenses can quickly add up while purchasing school supplies.  

To help reduce stress and to level the playing field, the Ottawa Community Housing Foundation supports families by sending students back to school equipped and ready to learn. 


This year, through its Pack-a-Sack Program, the OCH Foundation has purchased $30,000 worth of back-to-school supplies with support from Khalsa Aid. The Foundation distributed over 700 backpacks filled with age-appropriate school supplies to families in our OCH Communities.  

This initiative would not have been possible without community support and partners. Thank you to Khalsa Aid, Caring and Sharing Exchange, the Coalition of Community Houses, the Ottawa Police Services, Kiwanis Ottawa, University of Ottawa Youth Education, Livewell Family Health Centre and Bridgehead for supporting this initiative.   

Pack-a-Sack continues to equip hundreds of children and youth annually with important back-to-school supplies. A typical back-to-school kit includes a quality backpack, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, scissors, geometry sets and other supplies that are grade dependent. 

Here’s what one parent had to say about receiving support. “Thank you to the Pack-a-Sack program for your support for my two young boys. As a single mom in full-time school, I had no idea how I was going to purchase the necessary school supplies. My two boys were so happy to see their school bags. We are now ready for their first day of school.” 

Inspired by Learning Bursary  

The OCHF Inspired by Learning Educational Bursary provides financial assistance to tenants of OCH who are undertaking post-secondary studies and who demonstrate financial need. The bursary can be applied towards tuition fees, books, transportation, childcare, equipment, living expenses and/or other costs directly associated with the academic or training program. 

This year, we received a generous donation from CIBC and gave out $20,000 in scholarships. 20 deserving candidates living in our OCH Communities received a $1,000 bursary as they start or continue their education in post-secondary. Since its inception in 2014, the OCH Foundation has given out $94,000 in bursaries to individuals in our Ottawa community. 

“It was inspiring to read the bursary applications and learn about the wide range of programs tenants are pursuing to advance their education and prepare for their career choices. We are grateful for CIBC’s contribution so we can continue to support so many people committed to learning.” 

Tara Lapointe, Board Member, OCH Foundation 

One applicant shares their inspiration to pursue their post-secondary education; “Growing up in a single parent household and being the first generation of my family to go to school has pushed me to improve my education, seeing my mother struggle with finances as well as the toll of moving to an entirely new country alone with her children was so heartbreaking and made me want to create a beautiful life for her and my future family.” 

Youth Futures 

The OCH Foundation is a partner in the delivery of Youth Futures, a program led by the City of Ottawa and BGC Ottawa that breaks down barriers to post-secondary education and employment faced by marginalized and equity deserving youth. Each year, more than 200 youth apply to participate in the six-month bilingual program. It provides mentoring and leadership training as well as job placement opportunities for students from low-income communities – many from OCH neighbourhoods. The goal is to provide support to students and help them succeed in their post-secondary education.   

On August 18th, 125 students graduated from the Youth Futures program. Since its inception in 2008, 1,324 students have graduated from the program. For the first time in 2 years, the graduation was held in person. This provided the opportunity for graduates, families and community and corporate partners to come together to celebrate the success of the students. One student shared the impact the program has had on the participants. “If you want to change the world one person at a time, Youth Futures is a great way to do that.”  

This program wouldn’t be possible without the generous support from the RBC Foundation and the Rideau Hall Foundation.  

Want to register for the 2023 cohort? Learn more by visiting  

 About the OCH Foundation:  

The Ottawa Community Housing (OCH) Foundation exists to enhance the health and social-well-being of over 32,000 tenants living in OCH: Ottawa’s largest social housing provider. OCH Foundation is a partner for effecting immediate change and building a healthy, inclusive and vibrant community. We connect tenants to programs and services that improve individual, family and community well-being under the following organizational priority areas: Education, Employment and Community Engagement.   

To learn more or to donate, visit   

Media Contact: Briar Gornall, Communications and Engagement Coordinator