Sens Foundation to change name, continue serving local youth

Sens summer camp photo

Just days before its relationship with the parent company of the Ottawa Senators is set to end, the Ottawa Senators Foundation is rebranding itself while pledging to continue serving youth in the National Capital Region.

The charitable organization said Tuesday it is changing its name to the Ottawa-Gatineau Youth Foundation as of Aug. 1. The foundation’s agreement with the Senators that grants it the right to use the team’s trademarks ​– including the Senators name ​– expires on July 31 and is not being renewed.

Founded in 1998, the organization raises money to help children and youth in the Ottawa area play sports, attend summer camps and access education opportunities. In a statement on its website, the foundation says it will “continue its legacy of improving the lives of kids and families in our community under its new legal name.”

The rebranded organization will officially relaunch its operations in September, according to the statement.

The Senators Foundation announced nearly two months ago that its relationship with the NHL club would end this summer. For its part, the team said then it planned to launch a bidding process “to explore alternative options to further its philanthropic endeavours.”

The hockey club said it informed the foundation months earlier that it would invite other organizations to submit proposals to partner with the Senators on philanthropic initiatives. According to the team, the foundation’s leadership group “protested and informed the Ottawa Senators they would not comply with an RFP process.”

The Senators Foundation has built a high profile in the Ottawa region, thanks to glitzy fundraisers such as the annual Sens Soir​ée and its work with endeavours such as Roger Neilson House, a hospice for pediatric palliative care at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. 

In the past five years alone, the foundation raised more than $31 million through direct donations, sponsorships, various events and sales of 50-50 tickets at Sens home games.

The organization has strong ties to the capital’s business community, including through several high-profile board members such as chair Goldy Hyder, president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, and vice-chair Ian Sherman, a partner in EY’s Ottawa office and the chair of the Ottawa Board of Trade.