With an ever expanding economic gap being documented in the inner suburbs of Toronto (United Way, 2010; Metcalf, 2012), the Leacock Foundation works locally to help level the playing field by providing educational and leadership opportunities for youth in some of Toronto’s most underserved communities (St. James Town, Scarborough, Keele/Finch, and the urban Aboriginal community).
Many of the children in our programs are the youngest generation of new Canadians, balancing learning English, a new culture, and a new school system. The achievement gap for these children and their peers in school can be tremendous.
Continued budget cuts to an already challenged Toronto public school system have created various areas of need that the Leacock Foundation has been able to step in to help fill. Communities that receive Leacock funding and programs are supporting hundreds of youth from vulnerable communities, and working with their teachers, community leaders, and parents ensure real needs are being met.
The Triangle of Hope programs add value to our existing education system by offering extended learning opportunities and individualized attention. Statistics have shown that it is these kinds of extended learning opportunities that help close the achievement gap for youth in need (Durlak and Weissberg, 2010; National Education Association, 2008).
Literacy programs that the Leacock Foundation supports help equip students to become strong readers and writers, and contribute to making a positive impact on students’ grades, academic achievement and self esteem. Literacy levels are connected to most of the pressing social and economic issues around the world including unemployment, poverty, health, rates of incarceration, social assistance, and child well-being, and with improved literacy rates come improvements in all of these areas.
Leadership programs supported by Leacock provide youth relevant skills development in teamwork, time management, goal-setting, confidence, and communication. Ultimately, leadership capabilities enable positive growth and life skills learning that youth will pass on to their peers and other members of their communities.