Charitable Choices: Lynne Dean, Chair of CODE

For our latest edition of Charitable Choices we spoke with Lynne Dean who is the Chair of the CODE Board of Directors. CODE is a Canadian international development agency that focusses on advancing literacy and education in some of the greatest need regions of the world.

CODE Facebook

Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.

CODE believes that education is the foundation for economic prosperity, peace and security. This belief in the power of education has driven CODE to become one of Canada’s leading international development charities uniquely focused on children’s literacy and education.

Through our programs, which focus on teacher education and also support for the local publishing of engaging books for children and youth, CODE is empowering young people to reach their full potential for a brighter future.

CODE currently operates in eight countries across east and west Africa and supports the love of reading in young adults in Canada through its Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature.

What problem does it aim to solve?

There is a global learning crisis. An estimated 274 million primary school children are not learning the basic foundational skills (like reading and writing) necessary to lead productive and healthy lives. By addressing this global learning crisis, CODE and its many Canadian supporters have the opportunity to improve children’s lives.

Access to quality education is a global challenge, which the United Nations recognizes through its Sustainable Development Goal #4 – to, “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

Improving the quality of teaching is the single most important factor in raising educational outcomes. To this end CODE programs work to address the shortage of qualified teachers by focusing on teacher training and the production of quality, relevant reading materials, so that children have the opportunity to learn from well-trained teachers who have the resources they need to deliver the learning outcomes all children deserve.

When did you start/join it?

I joined the board of CODE in September 2014

Lynne Dean CODE

What made you want to get involved?

I believe in the power of education and the importance of great teachers. I was lucky enough to have an amazing teacher who got me excited about learning and who changed my life.

By providing the opportunity to access quality education CODE gives children the opportunity to learn to do and be anything. CODE creates life changing opportunities for some of the world’s neediest children.

It was also important for me to see that CODE effects change by working in partnership with locally-based organizations who ensure the sustainability of programs and who provide a local voice and local expertise. CODE programs require community participation, including stakeholders such as Ministries of Education, Parent Teacher Associations and Girls’ Clubs. CODE helps to finds locally appropriate solutions and then works with governments and institutional funders to scale-up change to a national level.

The access to quality education that CODE programs create can provide children with the opportunity to improve their educational outcomes which have been shown to improve their financial prospects and contribute to their own wellbeing, as well as that of their families and their communities. I truly believe that CODE’s programs change lives.

What was the situation like when you/company started?

CODE is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year! When CODE first started it was an initiative led by a Toronto-based group of concerned librarians, publishers and teachers sending tea chests full of books from Canada to Africa.

How has it changed since?

As always, CODE sees a world where every child can read and write, where books are accessible and meaningful to the reader, and where every young person can pursue their education and realize their full potential.

CODE is about learning. Over its 60 years, CODE has continually evolved by asking how it can have the biggest impact on educational outcomes and how to best address literacy and learning concerns in developing countries. As a result, CODE has moved beyond just shipping books to Africa.

CODE now works with local authors, illustrators and publishers to create engaging, relevant reading materials and distributes these materials to schools and libraries to ensure that teachers and students have access to high quality reading materials.

Most importantly, CODE has recognized the importance of increasing the number of qualified teachers. With its strong emphasis on teacher training, CODE is uniquely positioned and committed to improving teacher effectiveness and removing one of the biggest barriers standing in the way of children realizing their right to a quality education and realizing their full potential.

CODE’s model of development has evolved over time to reflect international best practices. Today, through our partnership approach, we honour and recognize the tremendous strength and expertise brought by local stakeholders and we are proud to accompany them in their process of development.

What more needs to be done?

To achieve the goal of universal primary and secondary education for all girls and boys by 2030, the United Nations estimates that globally 69 million primary and secondary school teachers will need to be recruited and trained. The problem is particularly acute in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The work that is being done to improve educational opportunities for young people needs to continue and to grow. At CODE we are working to redouble our efforts and increase our impact by growing our programs.

By continuing to build great programs and securing the funding to deliver these programs CODE will work to ensure that children in developing countries have better access to education and more opportunities to improve their lives.

How can our readers help?

We are a charity and we rely on donations, big and small, to run our programs and reach children in developing countries. The generosity of Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast is what fuels CODE’s mission and we are deeply grateful.

If you believe in the power of great teachers, good books and quality education, please consider joining our inspired group of monthly givers who are on a mission to build a world where every child can read and write, and realize their full potential.

Your readers might be surprised to learn that as little as $5 a month can put books into a child’s hands, or help a teacher gain skills to effectively engage classrooms of young learners and readers.
We invite you to visit to learn about the many ways that you can get involved – from making an in-kind gift or “donating” social media real-estate to leaving a legacy or supporting as a corporate partner.

CODE is a four-star charity as rated by Charity Intelligence and was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Charities by Money Sense Magazine this year. We believe in accountability and transparency, and are committed to ensuring that every donor dollar can deliver maximum impact.

Do you have any events/promotion coming up?

In celebration of its 60th Anniversary this year, CODE has launched a photography exhibit by renowned Canadian photojournalist, Peter Bregg C.M., slated to tour Canada in the fall of 2019 and winter of 2020.
The Read. Learn. Live. photography exhibit aims to inform and to inspire Canadians of all walks of life, and places CODE’s work within the broader global movement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Upcoming exhibitions (free of charge) near Toronto include:

Dec. 4 – Dec. 17, 2019 – Hamilton Central Library
Dec. 20, 2019 – Jan. 13, 2020 – London Central Library
Jan. 19, 2020 – Jan. 30, 2020 – Tett Centre in Kingston
Jan. 4, 2020 – Feb. 20, 2020 – Kitchener Central Library

Where can we follow you?

There are a number of places where you can keep up to date on all things CODE. Be sure to check out our website  or follow us on Facebook or on Twitter.

We’re always happy to hear from anyone who takes an interest in CODE’s work. You can reach us toll-free at 1 800-661-2633



About Joel Levy 2519 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography