Toronto Sport Leadership

City: Toronto
Province: Ontario

Joy Levy

We're providing young people in diverse and vulnerable neighbourhoods the opportunity to gain skills and certification as sporting coaches and as instructors with the Toronto Sport Leadership Program. It's helping young people find the confidence, skills, and experience to obtain employment and lead their communities.

Responding to a Crisis

In response to what has become known as the "Summer of the Gun" in 2005, the Toronto Community Foundation brought diverse groups together in a Toronto Dialogue to discuss the inter-related issues that were highlighted in our 2005 Toronto's Vital Signs® Report: high rates of youth violence, youth unemployment, school drop-outs, and drop-offs in youth recreation. We convened six institutional partners along with our Fundholders to work together for a common goal: increase access to opportunities for youth in training, employment, and community leadership.

Innovation for Impact

The resulting Toronto Sport Leadership Program is the first of its kind in Canada, providing young people the opportunity to gain skills, certification - and jobs as basketball and soccer coaches, ski and tennis instructors, rink guards, lifeguards, and swim instructors.

Achieving Results

The Toronto Sport Leadership Program is a practical way to engage the disengaged and send a strong message to Toronto about who can be role models and leaders in their communities. In the first seven years more than 800 young Torontonians have graduated from the Program, gaining transferable, marketable skills, and forming a roster of diverse, qualified sports staff for public and private employers.

Some further results:

  • 75% of students successfully completed all certifications and are now nationally-certified coaches with secure employment opportunities.
  • 95% successfully completed at least one certification, which leads to assistant coaching positions.
  • 50% self-identified as being engaged in "high-risk" or harmful behaviours prior to attending the program.
  • 80% have an increased sense of confidence and self-worth.
  • 65% of youth secured employment.