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.
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
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.
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.
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.
+ about JD
JD Hole is a retired engineer who served as president, past president, and CEO of Edmonton-based Lockerbie & Hole, one of Canada’s largest construction firms. In his various positions within the company over the years, he played an integral role in the company’s growth and prosperity, ultimately leading the company into new territories and markets.
JD was chairman of the Board of Lockerbie & Hole until 2009, when the company was acquired by Aecon; he continues to be an active member of the Aecon Board of Directors.
JD has been very involved in community endeavours, including serving as a board member and past chair of STARS Air Ambulance; a member of the Business Advisory Council of Grant MacEwan College; a member of the University of Alberta’s Board of Governors; a board member and chair of TELUS World of Science – Edmonton; and, an executive board member of the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation, among several other appointments.
In 2012, JD received the L.S. Lauchland Engineering Alumni Medal from Western Engineering in honour of his outstanding contributions in the areas of the engineering profession, business leadership, and community service.
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.
Teacher Training Expert
+ about abiyot
We are delighted to welcome a uniquely qualified professional, Abiyot Ashenafi, to our team. 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.
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.
Theodore D. Cosco,
+ 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Web Development Company
Worked in concert to deliver the Frances G Cosco Foundation web presence and online grant application and electronic documentation web apps.
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.