About Us

To learn more about our work, please take a few moments to enjoy our 2017 Celebration Video:

ELF students have been able to achieve their success with the support of hundreds of volunteer tutor mentors - we are grateful!

Sources and notes:


  • Slide 6

    Murray, S. & Shillington, R. 2011. From poverty to prosperity: literacy's impact on Canada's economic success. Ottawa: Canadian Literacy and Learning Network; OECD, Statistics Canada. 2011. Literacy for Life: Further Results from the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey, Second International ALL Report. OCD Publishing; OECD and Statistics Canada. 2005. Learning a Living: First Results of the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey.

    Murray, S. & Shillington, R. 2012. Investing in upskilling: gains for individuals, employers and government. Ottawa: Canadian Literacy and Learning Network. www.literacy.ca/content/uploads/2012/09/Investing+Upskilling+full+report.pdf

  • Slide 7

    World Literacy Foundation. 2015. The Economic & Social Cost of Illiteracy: A snapshot of illiteracy in a global context. href="https://worldliteracyfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/WLF-FINAL-ECONOMIC-REPORT.pdf

  • Slide 8

    Shomos, A. 2010. Links Between Literacy and Numeracy Skills and Labour Market Outcomes. Productivity Commission Staff Working Paper. Melbourne: Productivity Commission. http://www.pc.gov.au/research/supporting/literacy-numeracy-labour-outcomes

  • Slides 10/11

    Results are based on a longitudinal survey conducted in January 2017 with past and present ELF participants from two ELF program sites: one, an after-school program, serving low-income, high-risk, racialized communities (which sadly closed due to funding challenges); the second situated in a vocational high school for students with learning exceptionalities.
    The ELF expresses appreciation to Juniper Glass www.lumiereconsulting.ca for her support in the development of our research summary; and Sue Merrill (http://suemerrill.ca/) for collaborating with us on our longitudinal study and Theory of Inspiration.
Our History

The ELF's parent charity, Sage Youth - Jeunesse Sage was launched in 1992 as a community program by two young people just out of their teens. They knew they wanted to "serve" but didn't know specifically how. They collected items for book and toy lending libraries and started a drop-in homework club in a low-income housing area. After a few weeks they noticed that none of the children attending could read or write even remotely close to grade level. In 1993, Sage Youth became a literacy program, and a non-profit corporation. Thousands of children and youth from low-income, newcomer, homeless, and refugee communities, as well as young people with exceptionalities, have been served by this local, Ottawa program.

After several successful years, community organizations from across the country began to ask Sage Youth to share its expertise. The Excellence in Literacy Foundation was created to do just that. The ELF team created a series of workbooks to fill critical gaps in literacy skills; develop potential in leadership and employability; and enhance financial literacy. These workbooks and training sessions based on the Sage Youth model have been disseminated to hundreds of community organizations across Canada. Some partners also receive micro-funding.

The ELF became an independent organization in 2005. Sage Youth sadly closed in 2015, due to funding challenges. However, some of its programs are continuing under the ELF banner.

Combined, Sage Youth and the ELF have served over 70, 000 marginalized children and youth.