Toronto, ON, Monday, August 27, 2007 – More than 200 Toronto youth from high-need neighbourhoods celebrated their success as student employees in the Focus on Youth Toronto initiative at Hart House today. 

Focus on Youth Toronto is a Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) initiative that saw community organizations offer recreational, learning, leadership and employment opportunities for youth in neighbourhoods across the city this summer. The Ministry of Education provided $4 million in funding for the programs hosted at 106 schools across the city.

The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Education, Focus on Youth Toronto Steering Committee Chair and TDSB Trustee Bruce Davis, and Focus on Youth Steering Committee Vice-Chair and TCDSB Trustee Catherine LeBlanc-Miller, joined by Board trustees, and community partner representatives acknowledged the student employees by presenting them with certificates of achievement in recognition of their successful completion of a Leadership Training component of the initiative, which included workshops on Peer Mediation, Job Readiness, and Dealing with Challenging issues.     

“I’m thrilled that our investment in Toronto schools allowed so many students to participate in employment opportunities and leadership activities this summer,” said Education Minister Kathleen Wynne. “The Focus on Youth initiative has been a shining example of how the government, school boards and community groups can work together to help students succeed.”

Providing jobs for students was an important part of this summer initiative,” said Bruce Davis, Chair of the Focus on Youth Steering Committee. “Giving young men and women positive choices – including a real paycheck – will provide the basis for all partners to further support these students and their communities throughout the school year.”

 “It is evident from the feedback received from the young people involved with the programs or those working as leaders in their community, that the Focus on Youth Toronto program has been a great success,” says Vice-Chair and TCDSB Trustee Catherine LeBlanc-Miller.  “Parents have been most appreciative of the opportunities granted to their children through this innovative Ministry funded program,” added LeBlanc-Miller.

“United Way strongly believes that increasing community access to schools during the summer, along with effective programs, are key requirements for building stronger, healthier neighbourhoods,” said Frances Lankin, President and CEO, United Way of Greater Toronto . “The Focus on Youth program allowed United Way to commit up to $500,000 this summer in programs across the city. We are also pledging a similar amount for the next two years if the initiative is extended.”

The Toronto District School Board serves more than 270,000 students throughout 560 schools.

The Toronto Catholic District School Board educates close to 90,000 students from diverse cultures and language backgrounds in its 201 Catholic elementary and secondary schools and serves 475,032 Catholic school supporters across the City of Toronto.

For more information on TDSB schools and programs, please visit our web site at: http://www.tdsb.on.ca/