Project Give Back is such an incredible program with superpower ripple effects!

Rachel Chernos Lin , Chair, Toronto District School Board

You have no idea how thrilled I am with what you’ve accomplished with the kids this year. I think it’s THE most outstanding programme and I am sooooo happy that you picked Crestwood to deliver your program to and that I chose to have you do it….one of the best decisions I ever made!
Dalia Eisen
Principal, Crestwood School
You have a very unique ability to bring everything in life into perspective and put a smile on the face of everybody you come into contact with. Hopefully, the word will get out, and your wonderful program will eventually be part of every school’s curriculum. This is a little example of how one person, your son Jacob, and you of course, can “change the world”.
Robyn Shiner
Former Vice-Principal of General Studies, Netivot HaTorah Day School
“You are all difference makers who are leaving an amazing impact on those you meet! Thank you for being awesome.”
Joe Gold
Principal at Brownridge Public School
I am writing this letter to tell you a little bit about how Project Give Back has worked out at our school and the impact it is having on our students and families.
We have two Grade four and one Grade 4/5 classes participating in this inspiring program. The children are highly motivated to research a local charity of their choice and have in some cases brought in guest speakers as part of their presentations. Visual presentations in the form of posters with pertinent information from the child’s perspective are posted on a rotating basis in the hallway so that all staff and students can see the evidence of the children’s work.
On occasions that I have been able to attend the oral presentations and the games and activities the children have planned as fundraisers, I have been particularly impressed not only with the presentation skills and obvious passion of these nine and ten year olds, but also with the engagement and attention of the rest of the students in the class. It has also provided opportunities for families to join with their children in trying to make a difference in our world in a meaningful way. This is one of those school experiences that I am sure all the students will remember for a long time because of their real sense of accomplishment.
Because of the connection to the Ontario Curriculum, the classroom teacher is able to evaluate the oral presentations based on Language expectations. The Project Giveback teacher also provides an evaluation that highlights the commitment and passion demonstrated by the student in a special award type format that I am sure students will keep.
Ellen Schwartz is to be commended for developing such a student centred program to increase community awareness and empathy for those less fortunate. We will definitely commit to having the program in the school again.
Jennie Ucar
Past Principal, Allenby Public School
“Hearing Ellen speak for the first time, I couldn’t help but think how lucky we would all be to feel the peace that she feels and to have the strength that she has! If she could spread her message worldwide – what a gift it would be!”
Josie Stern
Supporter, Sutton Group Realtor
“On behalf of the Board of Directors and all the members of our YPO Western Ontario Chapter, thank you for being one of our keynote speakers last weekend in Quebec City at our Chapter Retreat. Your gracious presentation and accessible style hit just the right note with our members and their spouses. Thank you for being so open about your family’s journey and for sharing the lessons you have learned. It was wonderful to see so many of our members so deeply engrossed in your book, “Lessons from Jacob”, the day after your presentation.”
Lori Ryerson
YPO Western Ontario Chapter
“On behalf of Torah High we wanted to thank you for coming to speak at our Family Dinner. It was so wonderful to look around the room at over the 200 people present and see how beautifully you captured the attention and hearts of both the parents and their teens. You were able to draw every individual into your story and I know that they all left the room feeling changed.”
Shoshana Newman
Vice-Principal, Beth Torah High
Project Give Back has been a valuable tool for helping students connect and engage with Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Through this program, we enjoy giving tours and speaking with students who want to learn more about the hospital and the cause of childhood disability. It is rewarding to know that these students will be educating their classmates, developing their communication and presentation skills all while helping raise awareness about kids with disabilities. Project Give Back is a great initiative that instils compassion and caring for others.
Alison Gittins
Community Engagement Assistant, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation
We were thrilled to be part of Project Give Back this year and were excited that so many children chose to support SickKids through this amazing program. Project Give Back provides an excellent opportunity for children to learn about the many charities that help families in the communities they live in and provides a fun way for kids to learn valuable life skills through their fundraising efforts. The many letters and photos we received from the children who supported SickKids were fabulous and we wish you much success over the 2009-2010 school year.
Penny Kroll
Development Officer, SickKids Foundation
“I wanted to also tell you that I think Project Give Back is a fabulous program and students that get to participate are truly fortunate – as are the charities that are given the opportunity to work with them. I enjoyed working with Aliza very much – so much that I even miss hearing from her! Thank you for creating such an amazing program.”
Keiko Okutsu
Development Associate, Events, Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation
First off, let me say how amazing your program is, and how wonderful it is to see how the students have just taken to it. You are inspiring, and your positive attitude is fantastic.
Thanks so much.
Grade four teacher
“As a member of the teaching profession myself, I can with confidence say that you are truly an exemplary teacher and I have learned much from your approach this year.”
Elementary teacher partner, grade 6
Project Give Back is a transformative educational program that teaches students the importance and power of helping others and enables students to accept, embrace, and love themselves. Andrew Crone. Classroom teacher at York Woods School
Andrew Crone
Grade six teacher


My favourite moment was at the end of my presentation when everybody clapped and I felt good and proud of myself.
Grade 4 student
You taught us how to live and love.
Grade 4 student
I loved everything that we did because I learned so much about charities and it was such a fun way to learn about things that we should learn about.
Grade 5 student
Something that I really liked was when everybody presented and it was sweet because they were all helping and that’s what Project Give Back is all about.
Grade 4 student
I liked when Jacob came in because I got to learn about his life and I never saw some one like that before.
Grade 5 student
I liked all of the presentations and activities because it was fun and people put a lot of effort into it.
Grade 5 student
My favourite part is when people present because we get to learn about all different types of charities and what they do to help people.
Grade 4 student
My favourite part of Project Give Back was like everything. It was worth learning everything from everyone. My favourite part about doing my charity was getting the game organized and making the bristol board.
Grade 5 student
I liked learning about every body’s charities because it was really interesting and the games were fun too.
Grade 5 student
Project Give Back has made lots of kids think about giving more than receiving.
Grade 5 student
“The person who I admire is my teacher from grade three Mrs. Schwartz. From being around her and knowing her I have learned to greet everyone with a warm and loving smile and I have learned to be happy no matter what that situation might be.”
A grade 8 student
You alone have made me very happy and you have made me feel very special and have inspired me to do things that I didn’t think to think or do up until the point that you came in to my life and class.
A grade 5 student
Our son showed us your letter today and the pictures from his presentation. I’m not sure how much you know about his profile, but suffice it to say, he has had many challenges at school, especially when it comes to being empathetic and connecting with other kids. This project has really struck something in him. Some of his classmates came up to me at a school function and told me how amazing and moving his presentation was which of course made me so proud.

Thanks so much for working with him and for your thoughtful summary of his project. He told me that no one has ever written something like this about him and that he wants to hang your letter up in his room:).What a great organization you get to work for! Thank you for helping to inspire him.
Project Give Back student


We have met a few times this year while you have been working with our children’s class on Project Give Back, and first of all I would like to thank you and commend you. Through all of your efforts you have been able to reach my son, on so many levels. He is so much more willing and compassionate to helping others and thoughtful of the positive effects that your organization can create, it is really unbelievable. Through some difficult changes in his world I sensed that he had lost some of that compassion, he was unhappy his world had been disrupted so much and he still struggles with his feelings daily. However, through your program, he has been able to realize life is not always as perfect and understands often it can be difficult. He also realizes he is not alone, but rather that happiness can be possible through giving and the kindness of others. Words can not express my gratitude to you. On the commending side, I admire you, with all the challenges you have been faced with and turning them into such positivity and adversity; your family must be so proud and certainly very lucky! On that note, I am very proud that my son is able to participate in making a difference for others and realizing he can make a difference for himself as well.
Thank you so much for spending time with our kids and giving them the tools they need to be the future leaders of our community. Emma loved working on project give back and each week she comes home with a different story about what the other kids have done for their projects. Your generosity and spirit are humbling. Thanks for inspiring Emma.
Your charity has really opened up my heart and told me how fortunate I am to have a great family, great friends and to love in a special country like Canada.
Emma’s Mom
Ellen, this has been an incredible learning experience for Josh. We want to thank you for your kind words in your letter to Josh (it is framed in his room) and for bringing this enriching program in our school.
A grade four parent
I am Haley and Alexis’ mom, Tracy. The girls have thoroughly enjoyed working on Project Give Back. It has been so wonderful seeing their levels of interest throughout this activity. Thank you for all of the time and energy you put forth.
A grade four parent
Thank you for all of the amazing work that you are doing with the children. I feel very fortunate that Shira is able to participate in your outstanding program. I think that the lessons taught through Project Give Back are very important and the regular school curriculum did not come close to teaching the kids what your project is teaching them. The children are learning about all sorts of important needs in the world that the charities try to provide. It opens up the children’s eyes to appreciate what they have (that many people take for granted) and see what they can offer – give back to the community and people in need. I really enjoyed both days that I came to the class to watch Project Give Back. You are very inspiring and amazing with the kids. Your enthusiasm for the program is amazing! I think that you make the world a better place by doing what you do. You are an inspiration!
Thank you.
Thank-You again for committing yourself to such a worthwhile project. It was such a nice opportunity for Beth to really get a feel for fund raising, and how important it is to give of ones self. We had a really great experience working on this, and it was a meaningful and fun experience for her (as well as me!) Honestly Mrs. Schwartz, G-d should bless you, and your family for all the good you do, you are an inspiration to a generation of children who are growing up in such a challenging world. Keep up the great work! You are highly admired!
Best Regards.
Deena Oziel
A letter to the classroom teacher from a grade four parent:
Judy, I just wanted to let you know how much Zach enjoyed Jacob’s visit yesterday. I asked how his day was and the first thing he said was “I met Jacob!” He proceeded to tell me all about him and the things he could do (including listen to stories and move his arms), how Jacob was similar in size to Zack, and he explained that his brain just couldn’t always send the right signals. He was so excited. I was hoping you could pass along to Ellen my thanks, not only for yesterday’s visit, but in general for the fantastic learning experience Project Give Back is providing.
Ellen – thanks so much for sending the pictures. Rachel worked so hard on her presentation and was very proud of herself, and felt really good that she will be able to send some money (and bookmarks) to other kids.
She has truly gained an appreciation of ‘giving-back’ and feels proud that she can help. Your program is fantastic and we really appreciate all your efforts!
Thanks again!
Natalie and David
“Our daughter now has a teacher who brings an added bonus to the class by exposing them to life outside the classroom with the trials and triumphs of her son’s illness and has lit within her students a spark of compassion and strength in times of challenge, which no textbook could teach them.”
Parent, grade four student
Thank you for your most beautiful and sincere letter for Léoni❣️Your attentiveness is apparent in the thoughtful feedback you provide. Léoni read the letter out loud to me last night and I shed a few tears of pride 😉 (along with numerous moments of clapping for your wonderful observations and praise of her). This letter has boosted her confidence and offered positive reinforcement and motivation for future projects and school work. Thank you.
Thank you for bringing this important project to Regal Road and for everything you’re doing. Your generosity of spirit, availability to the students and thoroughness is deeply appreciated.
I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for being such a big inspiration to me over the past few years. It’s your kindness and story that have inspired me to try to make a difference in the world. If I hadn’t experienced project give back, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. So thank you for dedicating your life to helping others understand and help solve problems in the world. You are making the world a better place. Thank you for giving me so many opportunities to talk about my passion for helping others.
I just wanted to tell both of you how impressed I am with project give back. Both of our children have been so engaged in this project and I have never seen them put so much effort into a school project. The skills that they have had to work on including calling and emailing their charities in a professional manner, writing their speeches, and having to speak publicly are so valuable and will be so helpful as they continue their schooling. Watching both my daughters become so passionate about their charities has been amazing. It is so wonderful that they not only will learn about their own charities but will also have the chance to hear about so many other important charities/causes from the other students in their class.
A proud parent


“These days, with the news bombarding us with personal tragedy, how often do you come across someone who transforms hers into bettering the world? When I interviewed Ellen for Today’s Parent, I changed. Not simply because of her sad but inspiring experience but because she has that rare ability to tell her story to live her story by welcoming others into each day, each page, each chapter. After meeting her, I drove home to my suburban life, and threw myself inside all of its petty imperfections. And every time I am stressed or sad, I think of baking bread for someone else.”
Randi Chapnik Myers
LL.B., LL.M., Freelance Writer/Editor
“Ellen Schwartz has changed my life. Having worked as a clinical social worker in two AIDS Centers and one Burn Center, I have worked closely with and met many individuals and families coping with crisis and life-threatening illness. Meeting Ellen was different…vastly different. Watching her interact with her three children has provided “teachable moments” that have challenged my beliefs and changed me both personally and professionally. She is a treasure to her community and to all those who come in contact with her. Her gifts are too numerous to mention however one needs to clearly understand that if you are expecting to meet a person who is going to make you feel depressed, scared, overwhelmed or sad you are dead wrong. Ellen is sunshine! She is the most positive yet realistic person I have ever met and one of the best teachers I have ever had.”
Marianne Bennett-Altschul
B.S.W., M.S.W. C.S.W