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12 Canadian community-based organizations receive $200,000 from The Co-operators

May 27, 2015

GUELPH, ON, May 27, 2015 /CNW/ - Twelve organizations across Canada have received funding to support and strengthen the vital services they provide to their communities. The Co-operators announced grants totalling more than $200,000 to 12 organizations that provide training and employment opportunities to help local residents overcome barriers to employment and become more self-reliant.

The funding provided through The Co-operators Foundation Community Economic Development (CED) Funds, will go to support the following organizations:

Autism Society, Newfoundland Labrador – St. John's ($10,000)

The Autism Society is dedicated to promoting the development of individual, lifelong, and community-based supports and services for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), their families and caregivers. The Society's onsite social enterprise, The Pantry Café & Catering, currently employs three young adults with ASD. A grant of $10,000 will support a marketing plan to help promote and grow the enterprise in order to create more employment opportunities.

Spectre de Rue – Montreal ($20,000)

Spectre de rue, through its TAPAJ program, helps street youth or those at risk of becoming homeless to increase their employability through different day-to-day work opportunities. The program includes two phases: simple day-to-day work, followed by more in-depth work experience with the most engaged participants to ensure their social and economic re-integration. A $20,000 grant will cover employee and participant salaries.

Operation Come Home – Ottawa ($20,000)

Operation Come Home provides innovative programs and services to at-risk and homeless youth, helping them maintain employment and finishing their education. FarmWorks is a farming social enterprise that offers skills development and full- and part-time seasonal employment to six young people. A grant of $20,000 will support program delivery for FarmWorks.

Art Starts – Toronto ($18,000)

Art Starts inspires and cultivates social change through the creation of community-building art projects in marginalized Toronto neighbourhoods. Sew What?! is a gateway to economic and social development among marginalized youth interested in pursuing a fashion-focused career. In 2015 Sew What?! will host a unique opportunity in fashion design and costume production that will segue directly into the Parapan Am Games procession. An $18,000 grant will go toward hands-on training workshops.

Free Geek Toronto – Toronto ($20,000)

Recycling and reusing electronic waste is at the heart of Free Geek Toronto (FGT). E-Waste to E-Learning is a community project taking donated computers received from FGT's e-waste donation program and turning them into learning and work opportunities in their recycling and re-purposing operations. The program allows underserved and marginalized people to gain critical work-readiness skills. A grant of $20,000 will support the employment of a recycling coordinator.

Working for Change – Toronto ($20,000)

Working for Change was established to respond to the need for employment opportunities for people with mental health challenges. Over the past two decades they have developed five social enterprises that provide employment and training for people with mental health issues. A grant of $20,000 will be used to hire additional supervisory staff, to enable expansion of College Street Café and Russell Street Cafeteria in order to create more employment opportunities.

Roots to Harvest – Thunder Bay ($20,000)

The mandate of Roots to Harvest is to provide meaningful and productive employment and education opportunities within the local food system for marginalized youth who face barriers to employment. The Growing Up project will increase employability and resiliency through expanded training and skill building opportunities. It will enhance the Academic Year Program associated with their Urban Youth Farmer Program by placing interns with community partners and extending youth-led markets in the spring and fall after working through the summer. A $20,000 grant will go toward program delivery and student wages.

The North End Community Renewal Corporation – Winnipeg ($20,000)

The North End Community Renewal Corporation is committed to the social, economic and cultural renewal of the North End of Winnipeg. The North End Ambassador Program operates a uniformed, visible street presence in the area. The volunteer-based program is moving to a structured training program that will provide work experience and skills training, and will ultimately lead to alternate career employment for the residents of the community.  A $20,000 grant will go toward the wages of team leaders and a program manager. 

Vecova Centre for Disability Services and Research – Calgary ($13,750)

Vecova provides a wide range of supports and services for people with developmental disabilities, and works to build their capacity through leadership, innovation and collaboration. The centre operates three social enterprises including The Vecova Bottle Depot, which employs people with disabilities and provides recycling service in the community. All revenue generated from the depot is reinvested into Vecova's programs and services. This year's grant of $13,750 will be used for program delivery.

Family Services of Greater VancouverVancouver ($20,000)

Family Services of Greater Vancouver operates Keeners Car Wash, a mobile car wash that employs youth aged 18 to 25 who have difficulty securing employment because they are new to the country or face barriers such as homelessness, or a lack of work experience or job skills. Wages, job site and life skills training, advancement opportunities and transition support are all provided. This year's grant of $20,000 will support the program's operational costs.

Community Social Planning Council of Greater VictoriaVictoria ($10,000)

The Community Social Planning Council of Victoria is developing a new initiative aimed at creating employment opportunities for vulnerable youth in the region through a youth employment social enterprise project. The purpose is to provide entry-level employment opportunities for youth who will then graduate to mainstream employment. A $10,000 grant will be used to provide workshops and hire a social enterprise coach.

The Cridge Centre for the Family – Victoria ($20,000)

The Cridge Centre provides a range of services for families in economic crisis. Feeding the Future is a social enterprise that provides training and employment for survivors of brain injuries to produce and sell food products for consumer markets. Employees receive training in all aspects of the business including food safety, production, marketing, sales and business development. A grant of $20,000 will go toward wages for mentors, trainers and program participants.

The CED Funds were developed in 1995 to commemorate The Co-operators 50th anniversary, and through it, The Co-operators has granted $5.1 million to 125 organizations. The CED Funds are part of The Co-operators Foundation, which supports community-based organizations and other worthy causes throughout Canada. For more information on the Fund and its recipients, please visit:

About The Co-operators:

The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian-owned co-operative with more than $40 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt; Corporate Knights' Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada; and the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada by Sustainalytics and Maclean's magazine. For more information visit

SOURCE The Co-operators

For further information: Leonard Sharman, The Co-operators, 519-767-3937

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