Food Insecurity: Our Response

The Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation provides funding and resources to students in a number of communities in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Entering into these communities, we saw that there were students that had the perpetual challenge of not having enough food to support their physical and cognitive well-being. A major consequence of this is the inability to focus and perform at school, deepening the challenges of these disadvantaged individuals. 

In response, the Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation developed a series of programs to support these students and help them reach their full potential: 

  1. We found that Mondays were the worst days for students as if they had gone the entire weekend without sufficient meals. To manage this, we initiated a food package program that was distributed to 100 students and provided meals to families over the weekend.
  2. We re-equipped school cafeterias, adding new convection ovens and communal furniture. Creating a space for students to be able to eat, socialize and study. 
  3. To work in this new cafeteria, we hired professional chefs and cooks to prepare up to 200 free and subsidized meals every day to students.

The program is a success – Students in the program achieved measurable increases in their academic performance and physical well-being. The students are grateful for the support, and we are pleased to be able to make an impactful contribution to the lives of these individuals.

Newfoundland and Labrador Musical Proceeds Donated To Hospitals

In October 2019, The Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation announced a substantial donation to St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Toronto Western Hospital and McMaster Health Sciences as part of its commitment to improving health care services across the country. 

The Foundation is contributing a percentage of proceeds from the Newfoundland and Labrador inspired musical No Change in the Weather, which has been travelling across the country since July. Mr. Schroeder is the Executive Producer and has committed 20 percent of proceeds to the hospitals.

Vice President & Chief Development Officer at UHN, Alexander Vaccari says “the continuous support of the Walter and Maria Schroeder Foundation transforms the way we can deliver care and innovate our services.” This contribution is one of many from the Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation and highlights Schroeder’s commitment to improving Canada’s healthcare system.

“Canada’s healthcare system is desperate for philanthropy and I am pleased to be able to contribute a percentage of the profits earned from No Change in the Weather,” says Mr. Schroeder.

The Importance of Philanthropy in Healthcare

The recent introduction of virtual care, healthcare data management, and exploration of robotics, three-dimensional printing, nanotechnology and various connected devices into Canada’s healthcare system has allowed for tremendous strides in the delivery of care.

These advancements are not possible without private philanthropic contributions to the healthcare system. While the federal government supports the system with provincial transfer payments for healthcare, the system is largely reliant on these gifts.

This goes beyond purchasing new equipment and constructing new buildings. 

Many Canadians are unaware of the fact that, in Canada, the salaries of scientists that support research and innovation come from philanthropy. There are few government-funded positions as scientists, and oftentimes, projects are not eligible to apply for operating grants unless the can demonstrate the full-time employment of a scientist. 

In order to be innovative and maintain a system that can support the complex needs of Canadians, philanthropy must exist. The Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation has contributed to this system but cannot bear the weight alone – Canadians must step up and provide philanthropic support to the system we rely so heavily upon.

CRANIA Project Leads Charge in Canadian Medical Research

On May 15th, the Center for Advancing Neurotechnological Innovation for Application (CRANIA) was launched as a joint initiative between the University Health Network (UHN) and the University of Toronto (UofT). The CRANIA project focuses on research and solutions for medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression and more. 

The CRANIA project came to life when the Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation gifted the Toronto Rehab Foundation $20 million establishing the Walter & Maria Schroeder Institute for Brain Innovation & Recovery to research innovative solutions for brain disorders. 

The CRANIA project centers around Neuromodulation, a rapidly progressing medical practice involving the use of sophisticated devices that can be implanted on a patient’s brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves. These devices regulate neuronal activity to help alleviate symptoms associated with these diseases. CRANIA involves a unique team of researchers, computer scientists, engineers, mathematicians and physicians all working together under the center’s initiatives. 

CRANIA’s diverse team is utilizing the innovative and advanced technology to better map how these diseases affect a person’s brain. Through their efforts, symptoms of these terrible diseases can be better assessed and treated than ever before.

North End Winnipeg High School Builds Brand New Cafeteria and Affordable Meal Program

In early 2018, the Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation pledged $10 million dollars to three underprivileged high schools located in Winnipeg. St. John’s High School, one of the schools to receive the grant, has students who live in a largely single-parent household community where the median income is $40,000. A major issue for students in this community is access to a sustainable and healthy food program.

This year, with the help of the Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation, St. John’s High School unveiled its brand new Tiger Cafe, an affordable lunch and breakfast program for students. Tiger Cafe offers a communal environment where students can enjoy delicious meals prepared by the school’s new cafeteria. From pancakes and eggs to lemon chicken and lasagna, these meals are prepared in a transformed cafeteria with state-of-the-art cooking and kitchen appliances.

The new affordable lunch program offers students free breakfast and $2.50 lunches –  every day of the week for the entire school year. Meals are prepared fresh and emphasize the nutritional needs a busy high school student deserves. The program is a success drawing excited reviews from students who now look forward to eating their school breakfast and lunch with their peers.

The principal of St John’s, Doug Taylor, says the positive effect of the Tiger Cafe is “a game-changer… [The lunch program] is making a difference. Students are staying here, students are eating.”

The program which is estimated to cost $400,000 a year is fully covered by the grant received from the Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation.

Empowering Disadvantaged Youth

The Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation strongly believes that no individual should be disadvantaged as a result of their cultural background. In communities where we have identified this systemic disadvantage, we have provided the funding and resources needed to do our part in helping these individuals. 

To begin this program, we identified schools in Winnipeg with particularly high populations of cultural diversity and poverty. For example, St. John’s High School demographics are 55% Indigenous, 30% Filipino and a high percentage of immigrants. We found that these populations, in particular, are on social assistance and struggle to pay rent, utilities, and clothing. Many live in small houses and share rooms and resources.

The program offered in this school and several others in Winnipeg provide funding and resources to students that will help them both when they are in high school, and in their post-secondary education. We award students for academic performance with bursaries ranging from $150-$300 and recognition in a ceremony with their peers. Students are given bursaries only if their parents are present, demonstrating a family commitment to the students and their education. 

The Foundation also provides several scholarships to students looking to attend college or university. Each year, 10 students a year are given a $7,500 scholarship to a 4-year university program. We also provide scholarships for up to 40 students to attend community college and graduate with a trade or business administration degree.

Empowering our youth – especially those that suffer from disadvantages as a result of their cultural background – is a keystone of The Walter & Maria Schroeder Foundation, and we are proud of the positive change we can make in these communities.