The average annual household income of almost 70 per cent of Regent Park and Trinity-Bellwoods families is less than $20,000. Last week, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) donated $20,000 to the Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Club that runs after school programs for youth in the area.
RBC opened a branch in Regent Park last January as part of the community’s revitalization project.
“We recognize the importance of giving back to a community where we do business,” said branch manager Jasmina Zdravkovic. “The after school program here is among the best in Canada. It helps the kids learning skills and it also helps to build self-esteem and ignite a passion for learning.
“Programs like this also help kids stay in school and build a healthy network of friends and it empowers them to embrace the future.”
RBC has been funding after school programs since 1999, with over $22 million given through 750 grants to 212 different organizations that have helped almost 24,000 children over the past 11 years. The bank currently supports 12 programs in Toronto.
“It’s our hope that this number will increase and grossly impact and support the important area of education,” said Zdravkovic.
Sandra Stewart, RBC donations assistant manager, said the funding to after school programs range from $20,000 to $40,000.
“This is a very selective program and we are always looking for the right fit,” she said.
The funds are used to help develop social skills, build self-esteem and provide access to homework assistance and nutrition programs for children and youth.
“There is an absolute need here,” said Kiwanis Boys & Girls Club program director, Jessica Lawlor. “We work with about 350 kids every day. Our fees are very low and in many instances we waive them because parents don’t have the money. We never turn a child away because of their family’s financial circumstances.”
To celebrate the new funding, the after school participants took part in a kite-building workshop after the cheque presentation at Sprucewood Public School.
“The kite-building activity is symbolic of the relationship that we have with RBC,” said Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Club executive director, Ian Edward. “It’s through the generous support of the RBC after school grant program that we are able to provide quality after school programming and support to the communities that we serve.”