The Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation is a private registered charity. Its mission is to prevent poverty by promoting educational success in Quebec of children from infancy through age 17. The Foundation received a $1.4 billion contribution of capital in the year 2000 and reported assets of slightly more than $2 billion in 2021. As of 2022, the organization was supporting over 170 initiatives throughout Quebec. It is one of the largest private foundations in Canada. (See also Canadian Foundations; Charities.)
In 1964, André Chagnon founded Télécâble Vidéotron, a regional cable television company. Under his management, Videotron, as it is now known, has become the third largest cable television firm in Canada, and the largest in Quebec (see Cable Television). In 1988, the Chagnon Foundation Trust was established to complement Videotron’s charitable activities. After selling Videotron in 2000, André Chagnon, along with his wife, Lucie, and their children, decided to take back control of the foundation and gave it its current name, the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation. (See also Canadian Foundations; Charities.)
This was when the Foundation defined its mission and approach of preventing poverty by promoting educational success. The Foundation took a broad view of all of the individual and social factors that affect child development and of the actions that could help the Foundation to achieve its mission. The Chagnon family believes that there are many innovative, effective, sustainable solutions that must be tested and put into widespread use. The Foundation’s prestige lets it promote its ideas and provide the means of carrying them out. Also, to support the Foundation’s activities, the Chagnon family endowed it with $1.4 billion in 2000.
Québec Enfants (Queébec Children)
Following a round of consultations in Canada and abroad in 2001 and 2002, the Foundation launched the Québec Enfants program to support local communities by distributing grants and supporting local organizations active in the field of early childhood. The objective of Québec Enfants is to foster young children’s social and cognitive development so that they can enter kindergarten in the best possible physical and psychological health. (See Early-Childhood Education). During this period, the organization also acquired the Protéus website. Now known as Passeport Santé, this website makes information on medical subjects accessible to the general public.
Québec en forme (Quebec in Shape)
In 2002, the Foundation launched another program, Québec en forme, in partnership with the Quebec government, to support prevention programs run by local communities. Québec en forme has since been redesigned and was placed under a new legal framework in 2007. Through this program, which targets children and youth ages 5 to 17 throughout their years in school, the Foundation encourages them to develop and maintain physically active lifestyles and healthy eating habits (see Physical Education). In 2007, a new agreement was signed, and Québec en forme was awarded a grant of $480 million. In 2019, that agreement ended, and Québec en forme became M361.
Avenir d’enfants (Children’s Future)
In partnership with the Quebec government, an early childhood development fund was established in 2009 to support projects that fostered the overall development of preschool children from disadvantaged backgrounds. This fund was managed by Avenir d’enfants, a not-for-profit organization, from its inception until it ended in 2020. Over the 10 years of its existence, Avenir d’enfants distributed $400 million in project financing: $250 million from the Foundation and $150 million from the Quebec government.
Réunir Réussir (Succeeding Together)
To encourage students to stay in school, the Foundation established another not-for-profit organization, Réunir Réussir, in 2009. This organization supported the mobilization of civil society, including not only educators and parents, but also municipalities and businesses, in efforts to encourage young people in Quebec to stay in school and achieve educational success. Réunir Réussir ceased its activities in 2015.
Bien Grandir (Help Them Grow)
In fall 2009, as part of its holistic approach to child development, the Foundation launched a major campaign, Bien Grandir, in partnership with the Quebec government. The goal of this campaign is to make parents aware of the crucial role that they play in the development of their children before age 5. Supported by an advertising campaign, Bien Grandir underscores the importance of parents’ engagement with their children.
As of 2022, the Foundation had a portfolio of 170 projects in place throughout Quebec. Its most effective awareness tools are probably Naître et grandir (to be born and grow up) and the Observatoire des tout-petits (early childhood observatory). Since 2009, Naître et grandir consists of both a magazine and a website aimed at parents of young children. The Observatoire des tout-petits attempts to inform collective decision-making regarding early-childhood development in Quebec.
The Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation is managed by a board of directors. It also has several committees, including a governance committee, an audit committee and an investment committee. Over the past decade, the Foundation has regretfully announced the deaths of its co-founders: Lucie Chagnon in August 2014 at age 84 and André Chagnon on 8 October 2022 at age 94.
Awards and Honours
Gold Medal of the Order of Merit, Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec (Federation of Quebec School Boards) (2007)