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The Co-operators donates over $360,000 to 15 organizations helping Canadians overcome barriers

Sep 6, 2017

GUELPH, ON, Sept. 6, 2017 /CNW/ - As part of its commitment to supporting resilient communities, The Co-operators today announced a total of $366,500 in grants to 15 organizations across Canada that enhance the employability of marginalized young Canadians and those with mental health challenges.

Through its Community Economic Development (CED) Funds, The Co-operators supports organizations that play an important role in addressing unmet needs in their respective communities. The recipient organizations help vulnerable people develop and achieve their potential, reducing poverty, promoting social integration and revitalizing neighbourhoods.

Among the recipients is Ignite Adult Learning Corporation of Regina, a not-for-profit community-based employer that uses a leading-edge, business entrepreneurial approach to solve social issues inherent in marginalized young adults. "Poverty is expensive for everyone, and with the support of organizations like The Co-operators, we are able to help more local people develop their independence," explained Carlo Bizzarri, program manager at Ignite. "Investing in young adults is wealth creation for a generation."

Among the grants announced today is the second of three contributions to Ignite that will total $90,000 over three years. To date, the funding has helped cover training costs for 18 participants who have upgraded their academics, gained employment experience, obtained drivers' permits, conducted mock interviews and learned a variety of employability skills over the course of a 40-week program. At the end of the program, 12 participants were employed and Ignite was helping four others seek employment.

"It is a pleasure to support organizations such as Ignite, which make such an impact on the lives of the young people they help and, in the process, build more inclusive and resilient communities," said Rob Wesseling, president and CEO of The Co-operators. "Every day across the country, community-based organizations provide services that help Canadians develop independence, financial self-reliance and brighter futures for themselves and their families."

For a list of the 15 organizations receiving funding announced today from The Co-operators Foundation Community Economic Development Funds, please see the attached Backgrounder.

The CED Funds were developed in 1995 to commemorate The Co-operators 50th anniversary, and through it, The Co-operators has granted $6.3 million to 147 Canadian 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 Funds and their recipients, please visit:

About The Co-operators:
The Co-operators Group Ltd. is a Canadian co-operative with more than $48 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 Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt and Corporate Knights' Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada. For more information, visit


The following organizations are receiving contributions among this round of funding from The Co-operators Foundation Community Economic Development (CED) Funds:

Choices for Youth – St. John's, NL$30,000 (each year for 3 years)
Funding will support employment programming associated with the social enterprises that Choices for Youth operates, including the Project Sucseed production facility. It provides a supportive environment, individualized supports, on the job site training and employment for at-risk youth.

Open Sky Co-operative - Southeast Region NB – $30,000 (each year for 3 years)
Open Sky provides residential support, vocational training and personal skills support to young adults who face barriers due to social or mental health challenges. Funding will support the Roots of Resilience project.

Elsipogtog Youth Co-op – Dieppe, NB$20,000
Through creation of a worker co-operative, Elsipogtog Youth Co-op will develop and operate an agricultural business venture that produces vegetables and other crops to be sold at the local co-operative grocery store.

Destination Travail du Sud-Ouest de I'Île-de-Montréal – LaSalle, QC - $20,000 
Destination Travail works with marginalized youth facing barriers to social integration, including mental health challenges, drug addiction, and severe learning difficulties, and helps them gain employability and social integration skills.

Spectre de Rue – Montréal, QC – $30,000 (each year for 3 years)
Spectre de rue's TAPAJ program is named after the French phrase "alternative work paid by the day." It targets youth who live on the street or are at risk of it, offering them different day-to-day work opportunities, paid by the day, to aid social and economic re-integration.

Working for Change – Toronto, ON$30,000 (each year for 3 years)
Over the past two decades, Working for Change has developed five social enterprises that provide employment and training for people with mental health challenges. WFC plans to expand the catering component of their enterprise and to increase employment.

PARC – The Silver Brush – Toronto, ON$20,000
PARC supports people with mental health issues and those at risk of homelessness. It will partner with the Silver Brush, a social enterprise that hires people to do property maintenance and other services, primarily for other social agencies and the social housing sector in Toronto.

Weston Frontlines Centre – Toronto, ON$16,500
Frontlines is a community drop-in centre in an area of Toronto with significant poverty. The funding will support the Catering Careers program, an 8 week culinary training program for youth who face barriers to employment.

Roots to Harvest – Thunder Bay, ON$30,000 (each year for 3 years)
Roots to Harvest works with marginalized and hard-to-reach youth who face barriers to employment and academic success, focusing on employment, engagement and education using food and urban farming as a vehicle. Funding will support programming to facilitate and equip interns to enhance their employability and build their networks.

FortWhyte Alive - Winnipeg, MB$30,000 (each year for 3 years)
FortWhyte Alive's social enterprise FarmWhyte Farms, uses sustainable urban agriculture to build skills and increase job readiness for inner-city youth. The program delivers basic skills programming in agriculture, a summer internship employment program, a leadership and mentorship program, and a youth-led co-operative, Harmony Honey.

Autism Resource Centre – Regina, SK$20,000
The Autism Resource Centre (ARC) is a not-for-profit organization that aims to meet the needs of young people with autism so they can realize their potential, achieve independence and engage with their communities.

Ignite Adult Learning Corporation Foundation – Regina SK$30,000 (each year for 3 years)
Ignite helps young at-risk adults to become self-sufficient, productive citizens through the FLAMES program (Fostering Learning and Marketable Employment Skills), including 32 weeks of in-house work and 11 weeks of apprenticeship with a 3rd party employer.

Family Services of Greater Vancouver – Keeners Car Wash – Vancouver, BC $15,000
Keeners operates a mobile car wash social enterprise that provides employment opportunities for youth who are homeless or at-risk of being homeless. The funding will help support 10 youth to participate in their unique work experience program. 

Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation – Vancouver, BC$30,000 (each year for 3 years)
Take a Hike is a full-time alternative education program that engages at-risk youth through a unique combination of adventure-based learning, academics, therapy, and community involvement.

Hollyburn Family Services Society – North Vancouver, BC $15,000
Hollyburn provides a continuum of services for homeless youth to help them become resilient members of the community. The Wired4Success training program provides full-time classroom instruction for four weeks, followed by a 12 week work experience.

SOURCE The Co-operators

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

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