Here’s What’s New!

$90,000 OTF Grant Provides Computer Access & Training for Families

Windsor, ON – In 2021, Connections Early Years Family Centre (formerly known as The St. Mary’s Family Learning Centre) received a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Resilient Communities Fund to support families and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding has helped the non-profit organization purchase equipment and offer access and training for parents who wish to join virtual programs at the Centre. Connections was able to hire a virtual program assistant to engage with families and staff for this purpose, in addition to renovating a physical space to meet new health and safety guidelines. Thanks to the funding, the Centre is also in the process of redesigning its website to enhance user experience and implement online program registration.

“Connections Early Years Family Centre performs a vital role in our community serving families of young children by providing services they need to thrive and prosper. I am delighted to be able to congratulate the organization on receiving a well-deserved Resilient Communities Fund grant which has allowed them to continue their work during the pandemic.”

“We are fortunate to have this support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. This funding has ensured we can keep connected with families as services have fluctuated between virtual and in-person. We hope families will take advantage of the computer access and training support available to them here at Connections.”
– BARB BROWN, Executive Director, Connections Early Years Family Centre

Quick Facts
• This grant funded…
o Computer access for parents/caregivers at Connections Early Years Family Centre
o Training for parents/caregivers joining virtual programs to learn how to use Zoom
o A full-time staff provide support to families, staff and volunteers.
o A re-design to make the website more user-friendly and improve online registration features.
o Renovation of a space within the Centre to adhere to new health and safety requirements.

• Connections has an EarlyON Centre which provides parent education as well as groups for parents and young children. Connections is the creator of the only free short-term child care program in the region, Be Back Soon. Connections is the lead agency of the Talk 2 Me Preschool Speech & Language Program, the Infant Hearing Program, the Blind-Low Vision Program and the Ontario Autism Program’s Caregiver-Mediated Early Years program.
• Over 15,000 unique children and adults accessed services at Connections in 2020.
• Follow Connections Early Years Family Centre on social media: @connectionsEYFC
• Visit Connections Early Years Family Centre online at

About OTF
The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of community projects and partnerships to build healthy and vibrant communities and strengthen the impact of Ontario’s non-profit sector. In 2020/21, OTF supported Ontario’s economic recovery by helping non-profit organizations rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Visit to learn more.

Media Contact
Barb Brown – Executive Director, Connections Early Years Family Centre
519.252.9696 ext. 202 | [email protected]

Toldo Foundation Gives a Lift to Connections Early Years Family Centre

Monday, December 20, Windsor, ON Connections Early Years Family Centre is thrilled to receive a $200,000 funding commitment from the Toldo Foundation to cover the costs of installing an elevator. Connections, a non-profit organization that provides free programs and services for children 0 to 6 years old and their families, is renovating the centre as part of its “Building UP!” campaign to improve capacity and accessibility.

The Toldo Foundation has been a philanthropic leader dedicated to investments in the Windsor-Essex County community since its inception in 1996. “Today the Toldo Foundation is pleased to announce its commitment to Connections Early Years Family Centre,” said Alex Toldo, trustee of the Toldo Foundation. “We are excited about this new partnership and look forward to assisting them as they improve accessibility to the Connections facility and the breadth of their programs!”

Connections is the lead agency for several children’s health and developmental programs, such as the Talk 2 Me Preschool Speech & Language Program, the Infant Hearing Program and the Blind-Low Vision Early Intervention Program. It is also home to an EarlyON Centre and the region’s only free, short-term childcare program called Be Back Soon. Recently, Connections started a Caregiver-Mediated Early Years program through the Ontario Autism Program (OAP), supporting parents with children 1 to 4 years old registered in the OAP. Over 15,000 individual children and adults accessed services through Connections in 2020.

Formerly known as St. Mary’s Family Learning Centre, Connections has been in the central Windsor area in a former church building since 1974. When faced with the decision to move and rebuild or to renovate the aging building, the agency opted to remain at Giles and Marentette. Since 2018, Connections has raised funds to widen doorways, install ramps, construct accessible washrooms, add therapy spaces and more.

“It was important to us to continue to be part of this neighbourhood and make our services accessible to everyone with young children,” says Barb Brown, Executive Director of Connections Early Years Family Centre. “Being able to install an elevator thanks to the Toldo Foundation is an incredible way to support local families. This will also have a profound impact on staff, volunteers and placement students at Connections.”

After three years of renovations to the building, Connections is in the last phase of its “Building UP!” campaign and perhaps the biggest undertaking: the creation of an accessible entrance. The plans include a three-stop elevator, interior ramps, barrier-free emergency exits and an expanded entrance with accessible service desk. The estimated cost of these activities is $1,035,000.

Connections Early Years Family Centre is committed to preserving its space and ensuring that it remains accessible for many community activities for years to come. If you wish to enquire about the “Building UP!” campaign, please visit the organization’s website at or call 519-252-9696.

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