The Damian Family has been heavily involved in philanthropy for the past 20 years encouraging charities to take risks and go the extra mile. In the past, the family has supported hospitals, food banks, health, family, and community-oriented institutions. 

George Damian is a creative and thoughtful strategist who is comfortable in a broad spectrum of environments ranging from early-stage start-ups to established organizations. As an experienced leader in both the public and charitable sectors he deploys a venture capital approach to giving through his private family foundation. 

At Place2Give and Karma & Cents, George found an avenue for doing interesting and nimble things in the philanthropy space. For him, the highlight is the ability to do more than just donate cash. The opportunity to flesh out organizations, find roots and avenues to multiply strategic partners, and create collaborations excites him. The foundation works collaboratively with grant recipients to test pilot initiatives with the potential to facilitate major changes in the sectors where they identify a need. 

One of these sectors is men’s mental health. George, having been impacted by this personally and knowing how the entrepreneurial world can be a lonely path, decided to put some energy and focus on this issue. Finding that there were roughly only 10 organizations in Canada dedicated to supporting men’s mental health, George saw both need and opportunity. 

Working with Place2Give, extensive research was conducted and Place2Give reached out to potential target organizations, conducted interviews, and assessed methodologies and risk to find the right way to make an impact.  As a result of this analysis, two key projects were identified for the Damian Foundation to support, Trek and Next Gen Men. 

Trek is a school-based program out of Carya, a social profit agency in Calgary. Trek works with boys in junior high to improve resiliency and mental well-being while exploring concepts of masculinity. 

The program has been created to provide a safe space to explore the meaning of masculinity through social-emotional learning.  It has been designed to help participants feel open and confident to explore their full potential to become strong, capable, and resilient adults by exploring topics such as healthy relationships, coping with challenges, social responsibility, and creating positive personal identities.

Next Gen Men is a small nonprofit dedicated to changing how the world sees, acts, and thinks about masculinity.  The organization brings together perspectives from across Canada, across genders, and specialties to talk about why we all have a stake in the future of masculinity. Their programs build emotional intelligence giving youth the skills and resilience for healthy relationships and mental wellbeing. Professional development is delivered through training and consultations for parents, coaches, teachers, and others to promote positive youth development. 

Place2Give and Karma & Cents are focused on philanthropy, and George trusts them as stewards committed to selfless service. “They are like Yin & Yan,” George said, “Gena is very artistic and Richard has great analytical skills, and both together bring a full experience”. Their knowledge allows the Damian Family to create an innovative approach to supporting mental health.

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