About Smart Start Halton


In early 2013, the Halton Poverty Roundtable reached out to the Omega Foundation to learn more about their successful initiative, SmartSAVER.org. The initiative was launched to strengthen lower-income Canadian families’ ability to save for their children’s post-secondary education using Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP) and the Canada Learning Bond (CLB). The CLB is a federal contribution of up to $2,000 to a child’s Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). The CLB builds the education savings of low-income Canadian households, without requiring any deposit or savings activity by the family. It’s a valuable transfer and a critical ‘seed’ for the college savings of low-income Canadians. The national take-up rate for the Canada Learning Bond is low across the country, averaging 28%.

Ultimately, as a result of the SmartSAVER campaign, the CLB uptake increased in Toronto over the course of the initiative from 27.7% of eligible children at the end of 2009 to 39.3% at the end of 2012.

In the spring of 2013, the Halton Poverty Roundtable convened a broad group of strategic stakeholders to determine if there was interest in organizing a similar campaign in Halton, where the take-up rate was 28.5% at the time. There was unanimous agreement and Smart Start Halton was formed.

Over the last three years, the Smart Start Halton team has worked tirelessly to build awareness of the Canada Learning Bond (CLB) in Halton.

Since 2014, we have held nine enrollment events across Halton, delivered a series of Train the Trainer events to educate community organizations about the Canada Learning Bond and the enrollment process, and made over 40 community presentations to build awareness of this opportunity for eligible families who receive the National Child Benefit Supplement.

Thanks to partnerships with community leaders such as the Oak Park Neighbourhood Centre, Milton Community Resource Centre, Halton Catholic District School Board, Halton District School Board, Service Canada, St. Vincent de Paul Association, the United Way of Oakville, Halton Region Health Department and Halton Region Community and Social Services, Our Kids Network, BMO, RBC, Scotiabank, and TD Canada Trust, and a host of community organizations, 8,599 eligible children in Halton have been signed up for a Canada Learning Bond. From 2012 to 2016, Halton’s take-up rate for the Canada Learning Bond went from 28.5% to 37%! This represents over 4,300 children who have been signed up for the Canada Learning Bond in three years!

Free money. For your kids. Yes, really. www.smartstarthalton.com

Over 16,000 children in our community still need to take advantage of this free money for education from the federal government.
You and your organization can support the Smart Start Halton campaign in the following ways:

1. Promote the Canada Learning Bond by:
– Speaking with parents served by your organization about the opportunity
– Conducting information sessions for your target market

2. Invite us to come and speak to your organization, group, or the families you serve about the Canada Learning Bond

3. Where resources permit, participate in a Canada Learning Bond Champion training session to learn more about how families can sign-up for the Canada Learning Bond. These sessions will empower you to assist clients/users of your organization’s services in accessing these funds;

4. Agree to have your organization’s name and logo included in the campaign’s online and, where applicable, print material;
5. Promote the Canada Learning Bond by:
– Speaking with parents served by your organization about the opportunity
= Conducting information sessions for your target market

6. Posting or otherwise sending home details on how families can register, and;

7. Sharing the information in your social media conversations through:
a. The www.smartstarthalton.com website,
b. On Twitter via @SmartStartHaltn, and
c. On our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/SmartStartHalton

We are grateful to the generous and on-going support of the Oakville Community Foundation, Omega Foundation and the SmartSAVER team. Many of the materials in this toolkit have been created by the SmartSAVER team, as well as the Canada Education Savings Program team at Employment and Social Development Canada, and made available to community partners to use in their own CLB campaigns.

For more information, please contact Leena Sharma Seth, Director of Community Engagement, at: leena@haltonpovertyroundtable.com or 905-635-3131 ext 303