About FGCF

 

Frances G. Cosco Foundation (FGCF) is a Canadian charity based in Edmonton, Alberta. Our mission is to improve the lives of disadvantaged people through education: “Education for Change”

"It is critically important for women to be educated." That was the visionary conviction of Frances G. Cosco as she grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan, Canada in the 1930s. A schoolteacher and feminist before her time, she was the mother of co-founder of FGCF, David Cosco, who became involved in charitable work in Ethiopia in 2002.

Realizing the enormous impact that a small amount of money, invested in education, can have on reducing poverty and improving people's lives in poor countries, David and his wife, Gina, set up the charity in Frances’ name. FGCF undertakes projects in partnership with local Ethiopian governments and organizations, taking a holistic approach to improving, and increasing access to, education in Ethiopia.

 
 
 
 

Working Principles

We follow a holistic and community driven approach in our project planning and programming

We invest in long term outcomes rather than in short term outputs

We strive to achieve measurable improvements in communities where we undertake projects

We build on communities’ strengths and resources


 

Why Ethiopia

We focus on Ethiopia because of the need, and because many of the individuals involved in FGCF have firsthand experience and knowledge of the opportunities and challenges present in the country. The Ethiopian government, with support from civil society and other development partners, has put significant effort into improvements over the past decade; however, poverty levels in the country are still among the highest in the world.

We work specifically in the Amhara Region, where the needs are high, we have supportive partners, and we feel that we can deliver results. It is also an area where we are confident that our employees, volunteers, Directors, and donors will be safe.

 

People

David E. Cosco, B.Comm, LLB

Chairman of the
Board of Directors

+ about david

David has been associated with NGOs all of his adult life. He was a founding Director and Treasurer for twelve years of another organization doing development work in Ethiopia. He has spent between one and four weeks in Ethiopia for each of the past ten consecutive years, establishing many contacts with local government and community associations in the country. He is passionate about Ethiopia and about improving the quality of life for Ethiopians.

David was a criminal lawyer in the Yukon, Canada for eleven years, after which he turned to business, becoming a shareholder, President and CEO of a tire and automotive business in Edmonton. Under his leadership, the organization grew to be the seventh largest tire business in North America. The company was sold and three years later, in 2008, David founded his own company, Integra Tire and Auto Centers Ltd. and became its President and CEO.

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Gina Cosco,
PhD, CA

Secretary-Treasurer of the Board of Directors, CFO

+ about gina

Gina has been involved in charitable organizations for many years, including the Yukon Child Development Centre, A Safe Place Women’s Shelter, and most recently as volunteer CFO of a Canadian organization doing development work in Ethiopia. The latter has entailed numerous trips to Ethiopia, which have provided invaluable experience not only of life, needs, and challenges in the country, but also in terms of accounting and accountability issues that arise in organizations working out-of-country.

Gina worked in public practice as a Chartered Accountant in the Yukon, Canada for a number of years before moving to Edmonton and pursuing her PhD in Business. Her thesis was on accountability and governance in First Nations in Canada. She taught in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta for thirteen years, ending her teaching career with a final stint in the Faculty of Business.

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Natalka Breckenridge

Board
Member

+ about Natalka

Natalka began her entrepreneurial business career in 1979 as Founder and President of Athena Interiors Inc, later rebranded as Canadian Cubicle Curtain Corporation. This sub-contracting Window Covering business flourished on a commercial, industrial and institutional basis with projects such as the Mazankowski Heart Institute, Royal Alexandra Hospital and Walter C Mackenzie Health Sciences Facility. The scope of work spread far and wide completing contracts in almost every Northern Community in the Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories. We continue to work across Canada. Natalka was born in Northern Alberta to a farming family, attended N.A.I.T (Business Administration) followed by a B.Sc.(P.HEc) from the University of Alberta ( Clothing & Textiles/Interior Design). She also holds the U of A Extension Certificate in Project Management. Her entrepreneurial experience netted Natalka a teaching position with the Dept of Extension, U of A, Interior Design Program – teaching the Business component. Another experience sharing business thoughts was the Northern Alberta Junior Achievement Junior High School business classroom segment. Natalka has held past volunteer board positions with: Edmonton Construction Association – 7 yrs. Northern Alberta Junior Achievement – 3 yrs. National Association of Women in Construction – (2 yrs. as president) St Anthonys Parish, Carpathian Club (executive) Professional Home Economists Association of Alberta (executive) Windermere Golf and Country Club – 6 yrs. Planning for Semi-retirement means pairing down on a side interest of residential revenue properties. That business experience netted many years of fixing, repairing, renting and creating a successful real estate portfolio, now of less interest and desire but always a memory to be cherished and appreciated. It is this varied broad sweeping set of past experiences that can be integrated into the development of a school empire with limited resources, allowing youngsters a glimmer of opportunities. Being able to read is the only way to start.

 
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Terry
Hillaby

Board Member

+ about Terry

Terry joins us with a connection and deep respect for the people of Ethiopia. He was on the Board of Partners In The Horn of Africa, an NGO that did various water and education projects in Ethiopia, for over five years. Terry worked directly with staff in both Canada and Ethiopia and brought a solid business perspective to the Board.

Terry also brings the advantage of understanding working in Ethiopia from a donor’s perspective. He led EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd (EBA) aid work in Ethiopia and he was able to visit some of the projects there in 2010. Through Terry’s leadership, EBA and their 700 employees became Partners with the people of Ethiopia over a 10 year period that saw 12 employees travel to Ethiopia to visit the aid projects supported by the firm and the employees. EBA’s work in Ethiopia changed the employees’ perspective and brought the company together as a team with a deeper understanding of global responsibility and caring. Terry feels that it was the single most important activity that aligned the firm with its core values.

Terry has worked for Tetra Tech EBA, a consulting engineering firm working in the areas of geotechnical engineering and environmental sciences, from 1970 to today. He worked in technical positions as part of the materials testing group and the geotechnical group, and he worked in the Canadian and US arctic for about 10 years. He moved from an engineering technical role to many different senior management roles, including holding the position of CFO for more than 10 years. Terry was an integral part of the EBA strategic team that developed criteria for a strong partner and amalgamated the EBA with Tetra Tech in 2010.

Terry has been on many community Boards over the years and continues to be involved in several areas. He is on the Board of Uncles and Aunts at Large, an agency that provides mentoring matches for boys and girls from single-parent families and support for disadvantaged children and their families. Terry has been on the Board for 8 years and has been an Uncle for 32 years. Terry is on the organizing committee for the International World Triathlon. He is involved in the logistics of hosting the event in Edmonton.

Terry is also on the fundraising and sponsorship committee for the University of Alberta Hospital Foundation and specifically the Festival of Trees. The festival raises about $1M annually in support of the University Hospital.

Terry’s favorite song with a message … Tim McGraw’s “Live Life Like You Were Dying”…words to live by!!

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Grant
Simpson

Board Member

+ about Grant

Grant is a CMA who brings many years of experience in both business and non-profit organizations in Alberta. He is presently CFO of Alta-Fab Structures Ltd, and has a particular interest in Special Needs children.

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Yehalem Abebe Metiku, BA, MPA

Country Representative / Executive Director

+ about yehalem

Yehalem has 18 years of experience working with development organizations. From 2006 until 2013, he served as Country Representative for Partners in the Horn of Africa, a Canadian charitable organization engaged in community development work in Ethiopia. In this role, Yehalem was integrally involved in organizing and overseeing projects and operations in Ethiopia.

During these years of engagement in rural areas of Ethiopia Yehalem has earned enormous respect among the people, particularly government officials and contractors. These relationships, as well as information regarding the needs and possibilities in various areas of Ethiopia, provide FGCF with an excellent resource for selecting projects and for ensuring their successful completion.

Yehalem holds a Bachelor’s degree in history from Addis Ababa University, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Victoria, Canada. His Master's thesis focused on tools for selecting projects, monitoring project progress, and measuring results in small-scale development programs. During his graduate studies in Canada, Yehalem also worked as Policy Analyst with the BC Medical Services Commission, and as HIV/AIDS Evaluation Consultant with the BC Ministry of Health.

 
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Abiyot
Ashenafi

Teacher Training Expert

+ about abiyot

Abiyot obtained a master’s degree from Bahir Dar University in Educational Psychology (July 2009), a bachelor’s degree in Educational Planning and Management from Addis Ababa University (July 2005), Diploma in Mathematics from Gondar College of Teacher Education (July 1998) and attended several short-term courses including Mother-Tongue Language Material Development. He has amassed a rich and varied experience working for over 15 years in the public sector (as primary school teacher, high school principal, zonal education department supervisor, academic dean of a teacher education college), and in the non-profit sector (as Senior Teacher Capacity Development Officer of a Canadian charity, regional Manager of Save the Children International’s (SCI) Reading Ethiopians’ Achievement Technical Assistance Project, and as Team Leader for SCI’s education projects in Western Amhara region).

Abiyot’s intimate knowledge of the Amhara Region (FGCF’s operational area), the Ethiopian government’s educational policies, programs and strategies, different educational interventions of NGOs, as well as his hands-on experience in school-based in-service and pre-service teacher capacity development have enabled him to know well the opportunities and challenges presented in ensuring access, quality and success for Ethiopian children. Abiyot is our senior education expert, based in Bahir Dar, the capital of the Amhara Regional State. He is primarily responsible for planning, facilitating, and following up FGCF’s best teaching practices workshops, modeling and monitoring student-centered instructional strategies for teachers in their classrooms and students’ co-curricular activities, as well as measuring students academic growth.

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Girma
Shimelis

Senior Education Expert

+ about Girma

Girma joined FGCF’s team in November 2018, and is based in our Bahir Dar office. Girma has an MA in Educational Planning and Management and a BA in English and Pedagogical Sciences. He has over 7 years experience teaching education courses and advising undergraduate and graduate students at Jijiga University, a public institution in eastern Ethiopia, and teaching English at a primary school. He has published 5 articles in reputed academic journals and contributed chapters to two published books. Girma has also over three years NGO experience in the Amhara National Regional State (ANRS), FGCF’s operational area. He served Save the Children International (SCI), first as senior teacher training expert, and later as education project manager. Girma has also coordinated the project of Amhara Development Association, a local NGO which aims at developing supplementary reading materials, strengthening community participation, and improving the reading and writing skills of early grade students. Girma is enthusiastic to do everything he can to help achieve FGCF’s aim of ensuring every child in the target schools is learning and thriving.

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Madeleine Cosco,
BA, MA

Digital Marketing Consultant

+ about madeleine

Madeleine is responsible for managing the FGCF website, as well as digital marketing and communications activities for the foundation. She helps to ensure the work taking place on the ground in Ethiopia is communicated to donors and stakeholders in Canada through digital channels.

Madeleine has seven years experience working in digital project management, content marketing and social media management in Ireland and the UK. She has a BA in English Literature and Culture, and an MA in International Communications, and is particularly interested in the areas of intercultural communications, environmental sustainability, and international development.

 
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Theodore D. Cosco,
MSc, PhD

Research Consultant

+ about theodore

Theodore is an accomplished epidemiologist and engaged public health researcher. Currently pursuing his PhD in Public Health at the University of Cambridge, he has a strong research track record, publishing more than 25 peer-reviewed articles and giving over 30 conference presentations to date.

In addition to his experience in population-level research, Theodore has hands-on experience in field research in Guyana. He will put his unique research skillset to use in the quantification and measurement of project outcomes, providing more robust means of project assessment and identifying potential areas of improvement.

 
 

Partner Organizations

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ETLearns

ETLearns is an American NGO that provides educational materials to Ethiopian schools. In our case, they have provided chrome books to allow access for students to a huge source of ebooks and other learning materials.

etlearns.org

Bahir Dar University

We partner with Bahir Dar University in the areas of: greening programs, in that the university provides not only a landscape architect and a forester, but also all of the seedling trees for our projects; education, in terms of providing students to help design and administer measurement metrics for evaluating students in our schools as well as teachers; ophthalmology department in our joint partnership to assess visual impairment and eye disease among our students.

bdu.edu.et

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ICS Addis Ababa

ICS Addis Ababa is an International Baccalaureate School that specializes in an holistic approach to teaching. The school provides teachers who go into our schools to teach our teachers, allows our teachers to come and shadow ICS teachers in their classrooms, and provides all sorts of educational materials to our schools.

icsaddis.edu.et

 
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Operation Eyesight

Operation Eyesight is an international NGO with whom we have partnered, along with the Ophthalmology Department of the University of Bahir Dar, to test children in our schools for visual impairment as well as disease, and follow up on necessary treatment.

operationeyesight.com  

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ISEE-urk

ISEE-urk is a Dutch NGO which has agreed to provide funding for the special needs program at Wotet Abay Elementary School and the greening program at Sebatamit Elementary School.

isee-urk.nl

Synapture ltd.

Web Development Company

Worked in concert to deliver the Frances G Cosco Foundation web presence and online grant application and electronic documentation web apps.


 

Financial Statements

As a Canadian charitable organization, direction and control comes from Canada.  Because all administrative costs, other than bank charges, incurred in Canada are pro bono, all of FGCF’s expenses are paid out of our Ethiopian bank. However, all transactions are approved by the CFO in Canada prior to any payments being made. For construction invoices, a consultant engineer inspects the site and certifies quantities used and quality of work prior to the invoice being submitted to the Executive Director, and then the CFO for approval. The Ethiopian financial statements are prepared by the CFO and audited by an auditor approved by the Ethiopian government. The CFO translates those statements into Canadian dollars, adds in the Canadian bank charges and any capital purchases made in Canada, and prepares the Canadian version of the financial statements.

2018 Financial Statements

2017 Financial Statements