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Montreal Families

Foundation promotes peace and tolerance

What does it take to help young people develop a tolerant, non-violent attitude towards others? Maybe an anti-bullying program, a class on conflict resolution or a chance to learn about other cultural communities.

At the Alex and Ruth Dworkin Foundation, part of the Canadian Jewish Congress, they believe all these ideas are worth pursuing and provide the funds to organizations to do just that. Started in 2002, the foundation supports programs, mostly in Quebec, that promote peace, eradicate discrimination and prevent violence.

Daphna Leibovici, who oversees the foundation, says too often people think getting funding requires a long, difficult application process. Not so, she says. At the Dworkin foundation, all that is required is a cover letter and a short application explaining what the project is and how it will help promote peace.

Last year, the foundation gave grants to 10 organizations (average was $5,000 per grant). The Foundation expects to fund about the same number of projects this year.

One group brought 40 students to the Segal Centre for Performing Arts where they watched a play, No More Almonds No More Raisins, about children’s experiences during the Holocaust.

“It was about kids, designed for young audiences and acted by young performers,” Leibovici said. “We just funded the transportation and tickets.”

Also, students from Howard S. Billings High School in Chateauguay went to the Black Students’ Network 12th annual Children’s Day Conference at McGill College where they participated in workshops to better understand the history and contributions of African-Canadian communities. Student journalists from the school’s Vision newspaper later wrote articles and editorials about the experience.

Hampstead Elementary School in Montreal received $7,000 for a program called Peace Makers, designed to teach students to tolerate each other’s cultural, social, academic or other differences. And Laval Liberty High School was also awarded $5,000 for a film festival on diversity and tolerance for 2009.

Leibovici says she’s excited that several groups from Native communities have recently inquired about funding. “It means the word is spreading and we can help some schools in those communities,” she said.

She urges school and groups not to be intimidated about applying for a grant. “All we’re doing is looking for people and organizations that are passionate about making a difference in our overall tolerance of each other.”

For more information, call Daphna Leibovici at (514) 345-6411 ext. 3170.

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