So moved was Ray Chang by a visit to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) last year that he decided to do what he does best – give to a worthy cause.
The Jamaican-born businessman, who is also the Chancellor of Ryerson University, donated a total of $7 million to the CAMH Foundation for research and education. CAMH is Canada’s leading mental health and addiction hospital which combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of individuals affected by mental health and addiction issues.
CAMH is currently conducting world-leading research into mental health and addictions with pioneering gene science and advance brain imaging combined with clinical expertise.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals – Greater Toronto Area chapter recently rewarded Chang for his generosity with its Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year award.
CAMH and Ryerson nominated Chang for the award.
“Ray is one of the country’s great visionaries, volunteers and philanthropists who is dedicated to making this city, the country and the world a better place for everyone,” said Sheldon Levy, Ryerson’s president. “His generosity and support have made a tremendous difference to Ryerson students and the entire Ryerson community.”
Ryerson’s vice-president for university advancement, Adam Kahan, said Chang is among the university’s most generous philanthropists. Chang donated $5 million to Ryerson to support continuing education.
“His support for higher learning, from continuous education to student innovation, is making a profound difference in the lives of so many students,” said Kahan. “We are deeply grateful for his ongoing support.”
The award citation noted that Chang is a Canadian business leader and philanthropist of extraordinary measure. It went on to say that his generosity as a volunteer and donor to the health, education and cultural sectors are transforming communities across the country and beyond.
“Unlike physical ailments, mental health issues are difficult to see or understand, making it easy to turn away in ignorance,” said Chang, the chair of CI Investments. “And in many respects, support for mental health has been left behind. I greatly admire those affected by mental health issues who have stepped forward to tell their stories…The mind is our last frontier.”
Chang’s gift is the first to support the Canada Foundation for Innovative matching grant which is the largest institutional grant in CAMH’s history, and it helped achieve its goal of raising $15 million from the private sector to go towards a $38 million project, enabling CAMH to focus on research in key areas, including schizophrenia, mood disorders, addictions, community health and knowledge exchange, neuro-imaging, pharmacognetics and neuroscience.
CAMH president and chief executive officer, Catherine Zahn, said there have been significant advances in treatment for people living with mental illness and addictions.
“There is still so much to learn,” she added. “In the past, therapies have been identified by trial and error rather than through an evidence-based understanding of the complex factors leading to these conditions. Today, research at CAMH is changing the way we treat mental health and addictions. The impact will not only be within our facilities and our local community, but also nationally and internationally.”