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Starling Community Services.

The Cowan Foundation $100,000 Grant Supports Children’s Mental Health Centre

on January 18, 2018
Cowan Foundation
Cowan Foundation
Left to Right: John Colangeli (Lutherwood), Heather Fedy (Lutherwood), Donna Buchan (Lutherwood), Carol Parsons (Cowan), Terry Reidel (Cowan)

Immediate Release

Waterloo, January 18, 2018 – When a child or youth is struggling with complex mental health issues requiring intensive support, they can’t wait. A $100,000 grant from The Cowan Foundation enabled Lutherwood to reduce wait times and improve treatment and academic outcomes by restructuring its mental health treatment and academic program delivery.

Lutherwood offers intensive mental health treatment for 12-18 year old youth with complex mental health issues. As part of their treatment plan, the youth attend school at Lutherwood’s Children’s Mental Health Centre, which is staffed by Lutherwood counsellors and Waterloo Region District School Board teachers.

Traditionally, the youth were organized into five program-specific classrooms. However, this approach resulted in some program desks sitting empty while there were wait lists for others. The clinical and teaching staff worked together to develop a model that allows the youth to attend the classroom that best meets their literacy, learning and developmental abilities and is flexible enough to accommodate fluctuations in demand. The resulting model:

  • shortens wait times and increases the capacity to help the youth as desks are no longer dedicated to a specific day or live-in treatment program
  • mixes live-in and day treatment youth giving both groups more opportunity to practice social and emotional skills in an environment that more closely parallels life in the community
  • accommodates students enrolling and completing their treatment plans outside of traditional semester timing
  • helps youth better prepare for re-integration into their community schools

“Innovation is critical to every business and the best way to improve services is to involve the staff members who work closest to customers,” said John Colangeli, CEO of Lutherwood. “Our staff came up with a model that makes sense for everyone involved. All we needed was the funding to fully and effectively implement these fundamental and very necessary changes. The Cowan Foundation listened to our proposal, saw our vision and invested in the future of the kids we serve.”

“Having to wait to receive the tools and strategies to cope and prosper in life is just not acceptable,” said Terry Reidel, Executive Director of The Cowan Foundation. “This change in programming is another example of Lutherwood’s ability to innovate to continue to respond to the needs of the youth they serve. The ability to adapt is an organizational imperative that aligns with Cowan’s goal of continuing to deliver market leading solutions for our clients.”

The $100,000 grant will help Lutherwood design a new assessment strategy for assigning classrooms, train staff in the new treatment and education approach, modify classroom spaces, complete an outdoor classroom and hire a full-time supervisor to ensure the new model is consistently implemented.

Lutherwood is a not-for-profit health and social service organization that supports youth with mental health issues, workers looking for employment and people at risk of being homeless. It also operates Safe Haven Youth Shelter. Its services are accessed by more than 14,000 people annually in Waterloo Region and Wellington County. For more information visit:

The Cowan Foundation was started in 1995 in honour of Frank Cowan, the founder of Frank Cowan. The Foundation is sustained by the ongoing success of the Princeton Holdings group of companies including Cowan Insurance Group, Frank Cowan Company, The Guarantee Company of North America and Cowan Asset Management. Together they provide insurance, wealth management and risk management products and services for individuals, businesses, organizations and public entities as well as assist employers with their group benefits, retirement and health and disability management plans. The goal of The Cowan Foundation is to make a positive difference in the lives of Canadians and the broader well-being of our communities. Learn more at

Media Contacts:

Chris Sellers
Director, Marketing, Communications & Strategy
519-707-1958 ext. 1237

Maggie Hall
Marketing & Communications Specialist
The Cowan Foundation/Cowan Insurance Group
519-650-6363 ext 31333

"I didn't know anything about the children's mental health system when my daughter first needed help. Since then, Lutherwood has given us so much. Being part of the Committee is a way I can give back and make the system even better."