Q.1 Why did the Chagnon family
create the Foundation ?
Q.2 Why does the Foundation
concentrate on preventing poverty by focusing on educational
success and childhood development?
Q.3 Why so much interest in
mobilizing local and regional actors?
Q.4 What does the Foundation do
outside of its partnerships with the government?
Q.5 What have been the Foundation's
major acquisitions in terms of knowledge during its first decade of
Q.1 Why did the Chagnon family create the
The Chagnon family's history of social engagement and
involvement in volunteer work goes back to the 1960s, with
André Chagnon's participation in several charitable organizations,
including the Kiwanis Club, Terre-des-Jeunes and
Portage. During his time at Vidéotron, André Chagnon also
initiated an employment program for people with disabilities and
lent his support to many other initiatives, primarily in the areas
of education, health, the arts and sports. These
many commitments exemplify the values and motivations that
eventually led the family to create the Lucie and André Chagnon
In October 2000, following the transfer of
Groupe Vidéotron ltée, André Chagnon, his wife Lucie and their five
children decided to devote their time, energy and money to the
Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation as a way of "giving back" to the
people of Quebec. To do so, the family injected $1.4 billion(1) to support a long-term project
centred on the prevention of poverty, as the Chagnon
family is convinced that poverty is not an inevitability that we
are powerless to change.
(1) This figure represents close to 78% of the
Q.2 Why does the
Foundation concentrate on preventing poverty by focusing on
educational success and childhood development?
The Foundation's early years were devoted to research and
development. A large number of diverse projects led to a decision
on the Foundation's orientation and objectives in 2006: preventive
intervention from the youngest possible age to improve overall
childhood development and educational success.
Educational success is one of the most effective factors
for preventing poverty over the long term. In fact,
according to recent studies supported by several Quebec actors in
the field, educational success is a powerful determinant of income,
employment, health, quality of children's education and overall
societal development. Since educational success depends on a very
wide range of factors(1), the
Foundation decided to concentrate its efforts on childhood
development from the youngest possible age: ensuring
children get a good start in school, encouraging student
retention, social participation and healthy
The Foundation believes firmly in the importance of promoting
the role of parents and families in the overall development of
their children in order to encourage their active participation
right from birth. Public awareness must also be increased to ensure
that childhood development becomes a priority in our society.
Several government, community and philanthropic organizations
are working hard to help people who live in poverty. In its role as
a philanthropic organization, the Foundation has the possibility
and the capacity of making a "complementary" contribution
to the field of prevention, as it receives less funding
from governments or donations from the public or other
(1) Factors include social inequality and
living conditions, early childhood development, and the personal,
family, educational, community and social factors that exist
throughout a child's academic career. For more information on this
topic, see Forging ahead,
in the movement for student retention and academic success in
Québec, pp. 4-6.
Q.3 Why so much
interest in mobilizing local and regional actors?
The physical, psychological, cognitive, social and affective
development of a child is a very complex undertaking. A single
action focused on a specific developmental aspect cannot solve all
problems, one intervention alone cannot have an effect on all
factors or be universally applied in all milieus.
Consultations throughout Quebec, the rest of Canada and abroad
have enabled the Foundation to identify the most promising
approaches to preventing poverty. They have also shown that
social change is often the result of local initiatives(1), which in turn is the most
effective way to achieve the most complex objectives.
This approach is most effective when local actors become
involved in identifying issues and finding
solutions, helping individuals who are involved with
children on a daily basis create conditions that are favourable to
their development. Local actors include parents (the first
educators of their children), educators, teachers, institutions,
community organizations, elected representatives, and all
decision-makers and stakeholders in various sectors of society.
That is why the Foundation invests in consolidating the
efforts of local and regional actors, developing their
leadership and sharing knowledge. The Foundation
considers its philanthropic role is to support these actors.
(1) Examples in the province of Quebec include
the creation of Centres locaux de services communautaires
(CLSCs) and Centres de la petite enfance (CPEs).
Q.4 What does the Foundation do outside of its
partnerships with the governement?
The Foundation also supports
activities and tools intended to raise awareness
of parents (Naître et grandir: a
website, magazine and communications campaign) and of the Quebec
society in general.
It also provides support to other
- Projects that give a voice to the people
that are most affected by poverty, including Projet AVEC
from the Collectif pour un Québec sans pauvreté or the
Sommet des jeunes in cooperation with the Regroupement
des Organismes Autonomes Jeunesse du Québec;
- Activities that encourage dialogue on
questions related to the Foundation's mission (example:
Rendez-vous stratégique on "Les inégalités sociales,
un choix de société ?" organized by the Institut du
Nouveau Monde [INM])
- Studies that monitor the development of
certain indicators of educational success, such as the Quebec
Longitudinal Study of Childhood Development (QLSCD) conducted
by the Institut de la statistique du Québec;
- Innovation projects and support of mobilization
efforts, such as Communagir, an organization that accompanies
Quebec communities who want to make the changes they consider to be
essential for their collective development.
Q.5 What did the
Foundation learn during its first decade of activity?
The Foundation has been pursuing its mission of preventing
poverty since the year 2000. We are extremely proud of the efforts
that have been made and the progress that has been achieved with
all our partners in promoting concerted preventive action for the
benefit of the children of Quebec and their families.
After its first twelve years of operation, the Foundation
reflected on its philanthropic accomplishments. This exercise was
supported by various people within the Foundation, and assisted by
actors from the research, community and government sectors. Here
are a few of our observations:
The validity of the Foundation's fundamental
orientations was confirmed:
- The mission to prevent poverty, targeting educational
success as a key factor in preventing
poverty was considered to be pertinent by the vast majority of
partners and actors.
- Actions to promote educational success must go beyond
individual factors to include living conditions
and their determining factors.
- The strategy that encourages individuals' and
communities' ability to act was seen as an approach to be
preserved and consolidated.
- Approaches that promote intersector
cooperation and the mobilization of
partners should also be maintained and consolidated.
Certain experiences have led us to exchange with various
partners and make adjustments to ensure that everything corresponds
with the objectives of all parties involved. A few examples:
- Partnerships with the government represent an
innovative approach that is constantly evolving.
The concept of bringing groups together from different sectors of
society (citizens, parents, institutions, communities,
philanthropic organizations, etc.) to tackle complex issues is an
emerging idea in Quebec. We must remain open to improving,
innovating, breaking down silos and combining our
- The juxtaposition, at the local level, of the planning
and support processes related to each of the organizations
created with the government (Avenir d'enfants, Québec en
Forme and Réunir Réussir) has led to some confusion,
a certain amount of duplication, and programs that
are incompatible with integrated approaches that have repercussions
on certain living conditions. This situation may have given the
impression of excessive control. We must therefore strengthen our
cohesion and the complementarity of our efforts and
- Even if evaluation is an invaluable tool for identifying what
is working well and what is working less well, it is not
easy to precisely evaluate the effects that our support has had in
such complex areas as the prevention of poverty, childhood
development and educational success. The classic scientific
evaluation models or those borrowed from business are inadequate.
Furthermore, the Foundation plays a philanthropic role that is
complementary to the actions of several different actors
(government, civil society, organizations, etc.) at various levels.
In this context, it has adopted an evaluation approach that
reflects the reality of communities and philanthropic
organizations so that it will become a useful tool that is
less and less perceived as a surveillance tool or a mechanism for
In short, the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation continues to
evolve within its philanthropic and complementary role with
the firm conviction that by combining the efforts of all sectors of
our society in a spirit of openness and continuous learning, it
will bring together the necessary conditions allowing all Quebec
children to succeed in school and in life.