By RON FANFAIR
Tropicana Community Services Organization (TCSO) is among the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s (OTF) new grant recipients.
Minister of Children & Youth Services Laurel Broten announced the largest Black social service delivery agency in Canada will receive $75,000 over the next year to further organizational development through enhanced outreach, marketing, volunteer engagement and social enterprise development.
This will strengthen the work of Elevated Grounds, a youth-led initiative that uses the performing arts to raise mental health issues awareness.
“It’s so important that all of us raise the issues and talk about mental health, particularly among our youth,” said Broten. “We know that this is an area of great need and at the Ministry of Community Services, we talk a lot about how we can start to have conversations about things that are not readily talked about before they get to the crisis level.”
Tropicana serves close to 15,000 clients annually.
“Mental health is something that affects many communities and the opportunity to build a great city, society and province has to include all of us and our awareness of the health component, including mental health,” said TCSO president Dr. Gervan Fearon.
Tropicana was the first Black member agency of the United Way in 1984 when it received $35,000 in funding. The agency now receives nearly $400,000 from the non-profit charity.
The three levels of government and private donors also contribute the majority of funding which is nearly $10 million annually. The agency is currently fund-raising to establish a Centre of Excellence. It has raised $500,000 and is seeking another $350,000 to make a down payment for its own facility. (Editor’s Note: Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has just announced the federal government will cut some $43 million in funding to a number of local community organizations including Tropicana.)
Schools Without Borders, the YWCA, Raising the Roof and ParticipACTION were also awarded grants.
“By investing in a range of innovative programs, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and these five community organizations are improving the lives of young people,” said Broten. “By working together and investing in Ontario’s children and youth, we will build a better future for all Ontarians.”
OTF chair Helen Burstyn congratulated the grant recipients, saying “we are delighted to help these organizations who are investing their expertise and knowledge to help young people discover a new sense of self and learn about the unique opportunities available to them.”
“It’s a good fit with our own goal of building healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario,” she added.
The OTF makes close to 1,500 grants annually to charitable and non-profit organizations in the province.