10 Good Things That Happened in 2020



When reflecting upon this year many words come to mind: struggle, fear, uncertainty, anxiety, sadness, loss. This has been a time of immense challenge. Low literate learners and vulnerable families served by FESA are confronted with these very challenges all the time, not just during a year defined by a pandemic. Without literacy and foundational learning their worlds remain profoundly limited. FESA understands their learning journey takes courage, commitment and fortitude.


Which is why the breadth and depth of their work constantly evolves to remain relevant and timely. FESA now provides outreach to vulnerable families to assist in accessing COVID-19 resources, supports and benefits. They are developing curriculum to address stress and change management, including how to assist in children’s school work. Their Indigenous workplace supports include improving LES skills for higher success rates, and involving Elders in research bringing traditional knowledge into the workplace. FESA is also introducing new topics to Financial Literacy including navigating online banking.


Clearly FESA, along with key partners and funders, overcame incredible hurdles to ensure this kind of work continues effectively and safely. Elaine Cairns, and her remarkable staff and interns, achieved miracles in the middle of an international health crisis that trickled down into their own families and daily lives. I tip my hat to

their resilience and work ethic.


I also acknowledge FESA’s Board of Directors, unswerving in their dedication and enthusiasm, and a pleasure to work with. They ensured FESA was effectively governed. Plus their commitment translated into another successful fundraiser, Pie in the FESA. We called upon friends, family and colleagues to step up during incredibly tough times and the call was answered.


FESA’s stats highlight a substantial impact from the Parent Child Mother Goose program and the growth of the Going the Distance project to the new Grandparents program, to name a few. However, it’s in the stories from our learners and facilitators where we understand the true impact.


As we all navigate through a new landscape, I take pride and comfort in knowing that FESA has the leadership to thrive in a reimagined world, and has the commitment to provide literacy and foundational learning opportunities no matter the obstacles.


When reflecting upon FESA’s future, and the people we serve, many new words now come to mind: growth, potential, compassion, achievement, pride and hope. And I’m reminded of a favourite quote: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”C.S. Lewis


—Donna Rapp, President // Board of Directors

10 Good Things That Happened in 2020


867 adult learners and families engaged in literacy and essential skills programs.


562 children reached through family literacy programs.


FESA now offers free literacy and essential skills programs at home.

When COVID-19 hit Canada, we had to take a break from our regular programming and learn to work differently. Face-to-face programs were no longer possible. We expanded our outreach to help vulnerable learners and families with accessing COVID-19 resources, supports and benefits. We also started using online platforms to run our programs in small group and one-on-one formats, striving to offer the same high-quality learning. For learners without access to computers or laptops we delivered assistance by phone. We introduced new online programs, like Stress Management and adapted our current family and adult literacy programs now includes topics on parenting during the pandemic and helping with schoolwork.


260 participants were engaged in our GD Project, including: employees, managers, stakeholders, and community members.


79 facilitators trained to deliver FESA programs.


84% of adult learners applied their new foundational skills outside of class.


122 adult literacy programs delivered.

We delivered 122 adult literacy programs in Calgary this year. Whether it be in-person or online, we connected and supported our community. Listening and understanding our learners has always been the catalyst to building success in our programs. We expanded and adapted, engaging our learners in a critical manner that would bring relevance to their learning and the community around them. Here are some highlights from a challenging and rewarding year.


92% of adult learners showed increased confidence.


10 practicum students completed their placement with FESA.

We had 10 students from Mount Royal University’s Social Work Program do their practicum at FESA this year.


“At the beginning of this practicum, I was worried that it might not be a good fit. I was focused solely on working within the field of mental health and addictions. But through doing research on the client population, familiarizing myself with FESA’s services and programs, and creating lesson plans; I came to the realization that my interests extend much further throughout different facets of social work than I anticipated. A fire was ignited within me through insight into issues the client population face, especially in regards to parenting skills, emotional regulation, and financial literacy. I want to continue this work, for mental health and addictions, my original passion for social work. Also, being able to receive feedback from peers and my supervisors surrounding my facilitation and organization of program materials was tremendously beneficial to my professional growth as a social worker, and I am incredibly grateful for it.” —Garrett Miller


200 free literacy kits were delivered to families in 2020 to keep the learning going at home.



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