In our community

Helping Students

What the
Program does

The Community Support for Students Program (CSSP) is about hope and belief and trust.

Many are facing financial challenges. 

For those of us who are in a position to help, it’s easy to think “well, I can’t fix the world’s problems”. But the fact is that every act of kindness and generosity, however small, helps to make the world a better place. And where better to start with acts of kindness and generosity than with the young people who are our hope for the future.

This is where the Community Support for Students Program comes in – it extends a helping hand to students in Toronto who are working hard to complete high school and at the same time are trying to cope with financial challenges. But the program is about more than just financial help. It is about believing in students who have shown a commitment to their high school studies and a willingness to put that commitment into action through hard work.

These students may have never had a bank account of their own. Most have never been trusted with money of their own. The program shows these students that others, including people from their own community, believe in them and support them.  They learn about money first hand.

Not only does the program help the students finish high school: it builds their hope for the future.

How It Works

The Compass Award is $1000,  with $100 monthly from September to June directly deposited to the recipient’s bank account.

The recipient is a high school student in Toronto who is hard-working and facing financial difficulties; chosen by the school Principal and/or Guidance Counsellor(s).

The award winner is anonymous although they may chose to tell anyone they like.  There are no strings attached to the money and they can spend (or save) the money as they choose.  Financial literacy is learned through their choices.

In May, each recipient writes a letter telling generally how they used the money and how the experience impacted them.

All administrative expenses are covered by the Directors of the program meaning that 100% of all donations to go directly to students.

How It Started

Fred Cass and Tracy Cass were concerned about students who face financial difficulties, without available sources of support, prior to the completion of high school.

There was an article in the Globe and Mail about the Help Our Students (HOST) program in Ottawa that was doing just that.

Fred wrote a letter to Richard Lussier, the Founder of that program and the journey started.  Fred and Tracy launched the Community Support for Students Program with a view to bringing the success achieved by Richard’s program to Toronto.   

The HOST program now supports 3 students at all high schools in Ottawa and includes additional students directed through Restricted Donations.

Richard is on our Board of Directors and is a valued advisor to CSSP.

President's Report

JULY, 2023


“Please continue to do this as it helps a lot of students like me.”

The Community Support for Students Program has successfully completed its third year of making awards to hardworking Toronto high school students living in difficult financial circumstances. For the 2022/2023 school year, the program expanded to a total of 8 high schools, where we made Compass Awards to 16 students. As always, we are inspired by the feedback that we receive from the award recipients, including the words set out just below the heading at the top of this report.

Speaking of feedback, the letters written to us by the 2022/2023 recipients leave no doubt that the Compass Awards fulfilled their purpose of relieving financial hardship for these students. Many of the award recipients told us about how they used the Compass Award funds, including help with food and necessities, school and computer expenses, and participating in school activities that they would not otherwise have been able to afford, such as graduation proms. We also heard that, as the financial burden on award recipients was eased, they were able to apply themselves to their school work with greater focus.

While, of course, the financial helping hand afforded by the program is extremely important to the award recipients as they work to complete high school, the program’s impacts go much deeper than that. Here are some of the comments made in the students’ letters that brought out other positive impacts of Compass Awards:

Gratitude and a Desire to Give Back

  • Your generosity has instilled in me a profound sense of gratitude and a desire to give back to the community.
  • I wish that in the future I will be able to stand in a situation to pay this chance forward to another individual.

 Motivation to Achieve and Contribute

  • Your support has inspired me to strive for excellence and become a responsible, compassionate citizen who contributes positively to society.
  • Knowing that there are organizations and individuals who believe in my potential and are willing to invest in my education has inspired me to work harder and excel in my academic pursuits.

Security and Stability

  • The security that I have been given from the Compass Award has been a big reason that I have been able to complete this school year.
  • The consistency and reliability of this scholarship have provided me with a sense of stability.

Building Confidence

  • I feel more confident entering university. 
  • This unexpected recognition gives me a sense of security and confidence.

Opening Up Opportunities

  • Investing in my education is very important to me and I am grateful for the opportunity to pursue my dreams. 
  • Prior to receiving the award, I had no plans of applying to a university due to financial constraints. With the award’s financial assistance, I was able to fulfill my dream of attending university. 
  • The financial support provided by the Compass Award has not only made a tangible difference in my educational journey but has also served as a reminder that opportunities are within reach and that perseverance and dedication are rewarded.

Impressive as they are, these short extracts do not convey the full impact of the letters written to us by the 2022/2023 award recipients. The full letters (after removal of any identifying information) will be posted for viewing on the CSSP website.

Looking forward, it continues to be our goal to bring the CSSP to as many Toronto high schools as possible. While we are very pleased with our growth to the current total of 8 schools, there are obviously many Toronto high schools that we have not yet reached. The extent to which we are able to expand the program to these many other schools will depend primarily on the kindness and generosity of donors.

Donations can easily be made by visiting our website at Donations – Compass Award. One of the CSSP’s fundamental principles is that administration expenses are covered by the CSSP’s directors, so that 100% of all other donations go directly to Compass Awards made to hardworking Toronto high school students. Please make a donation, if you are able to do so, and consider setting up a donation in an amount that you can afford each month.

Thank you,

Fred Cass

Community Support for Students Program Board of Directors
Fred Cass, President
David Campbell, Vice-President
Tracy Cass, Secretary
Sue Carderelli
Leslie Horan
Linda Lussier
Richard Lussier
Viviana Szabo
Andre Wisaksana

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