The Barrett Family Foundation

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“I am deeply inspired by my father’s life-long teaching of ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and giving back.”
– Bob Barrett

Francine and Bob Barrett with daughters Rebecca and Kim

The Barrett Family’s significant philanthropic gift giving has supported a broad range of causes. Charitable sectors that have benefitted include: education, environment, humanitarian causes, health, and the arts.

In addition, more than 80 daughters and sons of Polytainers’ employees have received post-secondary scholarships since 1986. The awards have acknowledged the recipients’ leadership contributions and academic performance.

In 2013, Bob received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee award which honors significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.

The Barrett family through The Barrett Family Foundation focuses its interest and resources on supporting people in the acquisition of skills applicable to their workplace success.

Hard work and Polytainers’ success has positioned The Barrett Family Foundation to address targeted opportunities with innovative solutions that as yet do not exist.

The hope is that organization partners will provide opportunities for their recipients:


knowledge and skills that equips recipients for workplace effectiveness.


new strategies that will make our planet safer and more productive.


people living on the margins so that they can face their futures with confidence and self-respect.

Humber College

“Working with Humber is a natural fit. Our organizations have many shared values and we’re both committed to providing students with an education that will lead to meaningful jobs. We look forward to enhancing students’ experience and interaction with technology.”
– Bob Barrett

Donations from The Barrett Family Foundation to Humber College give future and current Humber students the means to study in technology-related fields. These donations have created an Access to Education and Skills Training Fund that provide scholarships (209 in 2017 alone) and mentorship grants to students and will see the creation of a new Centre for Technology Innovation that is named after the Barrett family.

The Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation (CTI): Mobilizing the Power of Innovation is 93,000 sq. ft. of purpose-built collaborative space which will be a powerhouse of technological innovation.

Students will be actively involved in the CTI, using new and emerging technologies to address relevant issues and create meaningful change. Through a rich learning environment they will gain professional experience, innovation literacy and entrepreneurial attitudes that power business success.

CTI teams will also provide in-depth insight and support that businesses need to embrace technological progress, respond to new markets and be globally competitive. The CTI will be a resource for businesses and help them to:

  • Manage the costs and risks of R&D
  • Create jobs
  • Strengthen supply chains
  • Adapt changes and innovations in their industries
  • Improve competitiveness, market share and brand loyalty

University of Guelph

University of Guelph Image

Francine and Bob Barrett (center) with daughters Rebecca and Kim, along with School of Engineering faculty and staff

In February, 2018, the University of Guelph created Canada’s first academic Chair in Sustainable Food Engineering, backed by a gift from The Barrett Family Foundation. The chair is intended to develop innovative ways to improve food processing and production to the store shelf.

The Barrett Family Chair in Sustainable Food Engineering will focus on the design, construction and operations of food processing. This will include improving food packaging, developing new “green” technologies and finding ways to prolong shelf life and reduce food waste.

Educational outreach will include symposiums, programs and courses, partnerships with industry and government, and research collaborations across U of G and beyond. The chair will also work with industry in identifying challenges and developing research projects.

The University is conducting an international search for the first chair holder. Open to all engineering faculty, the fund will support research on packaging and advanced food manufacturing technology involving graduate and undergraduate students.

University of Massachusetts Amherst

“After several decades of supporting the Wilmer D. Barrett Chair in memory of my father, I am proud that I too can help to create a lasting impact at our shared alma mater. I am deeply excited by the work of the Polymer Science and Engineering Department and I look forward to seeing the many ways that this chair will impact this community of great minds.”
– Bob Barrett

The newly created Robert K. Barrett Chair in Polymer Science and Engineering brings to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst a senior scientist who will strengthen existing efforts in the Department and on campus but allow them to embark on bold new initiatives in Polymer Science and Engineering.

As the department celebrated its 50th year, it had the great privilege of accepting a transformative gift from alumnus Bob Barrett to create the Robert K. Barrett Chair in Polymer Science and Engineering. This is the second endowed faculty position in the department funded by the Barrett family, both of which serve to recruit and retain distinguished faculty.

In 1992 Bob’s father Wilmer proudly established the Wilmer D. Barrett Chair in Polymer Science and Engineering. Today, distinguished Professor Murugappan Muthukumar is the current holder of this endowed position.

“The philanthropic legacy of the Barrett family at PSE is truly remarkable. We deeply appreciate Mr. Barrett’s and his father’s commitment to fostering innovation in higher education, and for helping us to build and maintain one of the world’s leading environments for polymer science and engineering.”
– Professor E. Bryan Coughlin, head of PSE