Our History

No other community organization in Ottawa has the same reach and ability to deliver much-needed programs directly to schools.

These programs include supporting health and learning through the School Breakfast Program, recruiting skilled volunteers to help students overcome language differences or learning difficulties, and teaching essential skills to high school students in preparation for post-secondary education and work.

Our organization’s history dates back to 1985, when we incorporated as a registered charitable organization called the Ottawa-Carleton Learning Foundation (OCLF). From the beginning, our mandate was to develop and advance educational programs that enhance learning but fall outside the scope of regular curriculum, and to encourage dialogue and cooperation between educators, local business and community organizations.

Over the years, OCLF became a part of the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI), remaining with that organization for 13 years before re-establishing itself as a separate charitable entity in 2011, under a new name: the Ottawa Network for Education (ONFE).

Through numerous and ongoing community partnerships we have created over 40 valuable community programs, including:

  • 1990 – the Ottawa School Breakfast Program, serving 1,000 students at 25 schools in its first year. Twenty-eight years later, we serve over 13,500 students each morning in 189 schools.
  • 1994 - Seniors Volunteering in Education matched 35 seniors with 15 schools across Ottawa. Today, our larger Ottawa Volunteers in Education program places 1,500 individual volunteers in 147 schools.
  • 2006 - The Capital Educators Awards and EduGala were created to celebrate the extraordinary contribution of educators from kindergarten through PhD.
  • 2008 - The Substance Abuse and Youth in Schools Coalition was established to develop a comprehensive drug and alcohol abuse program that focused on prevention, education, and treatment for students in Grades 7 to 12. Running now under the name ‘project step’, this program provided over 1,400 local students and more than 200 parents with free substance abuse counselling in 2017.
  • 2012 – JA Ottawa became a program of ONFE, which last year reached 7,572 students in grades 5 to 12 with hands-on learning experiences in entrepreneurship, business, and financial literacy.
  • 2016 – ONFE launched two new programs: Employer Connections, a program designed to connect high school students with employers and workplace skills, and Classroom Gardens, promoting student learning and well-being for K-12 students.

With the help of thousands of volunteers, our amazing partners, dedicated donors, and our experienced staff, we continue to provide our innovative programming to K-12 students across Ottawa, expanding our reach each year.