Agincourt Community Services Association

Agincourt Community Services Association (ACSA) is a non-profit, multi-service agency in the heart of Agincourt, addressing needs and empowering children, youth, newcomers and under-served communities to build a brighter future for all. ACSA provides a broad range of services to the local community and the greater geographic area of Scarborough that includes several of the United Way deemed high priority neighbourhoods.

Our Impact Why We Exist

Our services include community support services, youth outreach and engagement programs, homeless services, food security and gardening programs, community development work in local communities, and an information and referral service for all of Scarborough. We have a child and family centre that includes a full range of services for families with children 0 to 6 years and several homework and after-school programs for children 7 to 12 years.  We have successfully assisted our neighbouring community of Malvern to open a satellite food bank to address the growing demands for this service. ACSA has been providing community-based programs that respond to the ever changing and multi-faceted needs of underserved communities for 35 years. Part of ACSA’s mandate and  agency’s strategic plan direction is to engage our clients in focus groups and both formal and informal information sharing sessions that allow us to constantly elicit needs assessments that accurately reflect the needs of the community we serve.

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

In response to the fast-changing community of Agincourt in the 1970’s, eight local churches came together to build on the work that the Holy Spirit Catholic Church had been doing to assist local residents who were in need. Reverend Bruce Scott from Knox United Church devoted nearly half of his time in launching Agincourt Community Services Association (ACSA). ACSA opened its doors for the first time in a little white church on the corner of Birchmount and Sheppard. The fledgling agency started by offering supports such as information and referral, emergency food and clothing and by providing a space called “The Family Life Centre” where professionals could provide supportive counseling to people in the Agincourt area. Rev. Bruce Scott said in 1970, “ACSA is an expression of genuine concern for community needs. It involves the wider community working cooperatively for the common good and it is tangible evidence of people helping people.”

Over the years, ACSA has been funded by all levels of government, several foundations, schools, local faith communities, and The United Way of Greater Toronto. ACSA focuses on empowering people to help themselves by providing ‘hand up’ programs rather than ‘hand out’ programs. With ongoing community support, ACSA can continue to serve Scarborough through the provision of services and partnerships for a better tomorrow.

Accolades and Accomplishments

Agincourt Community Services Association just celebrated its 39th anniversary of serving the community. ACSA also won the Scarborough Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards in the Community Service category.

This past year, our solid foundation as a multi-service community based agency in the community has enabled us in moving ACSA into a lead role within the new Chester Le Community Corner and Dorset Park Community Hub. Through these new spaces, we aim to continue providing ongoing leadership programs and opportunities within the community to integrate potential new programs and service opportunities with partner agencies. Community Engagement enables entire neighborhoods to work together to identify common issues of concern and to address them as a community. ACSA continues to ensure our programs and services are relevant and current to meet the needs of the communities we serve.

Our Programs How We Do It

Community Engagement Projects- Community Development seeks to empower individuals and groups of people by providing these groups with the skills they need to effect change in their own communities. ACSA leads several Community Engagement projects while advocating for increased services and opportunities in underserved communities.

Food Security Programs - In order to help our community combat the systemic impacts of poverty, our food security programs exist to promote self-sufficiency, reduce isolation, and build life skills.

Child and Family Programs - By providing free, accessible, safe, and child-friendly environments for caregivers and families, we help promote healthy child development and provide family-centered programming.

Community Access and Volunteer Programs - ACSA offers a wide variety of ACCESS programs to help open doors of opportunity. We provide services like Computer Training, Legal Clinics, Income Tax Clinics, Food Bank, Form Filling, and Information and Referral. In addition, the backbone of our organization is a group of dedicated volunteers from different demographics.

Youth Programs – We provide homework clubs, cooking classes, drop in programs, March Break and Summer Programs, and one-on-one support through our Youth Outreach Workers.

Homeless and Housing Programs - In response to the growing incidences of homelessness in Scarborough, ACSA provides meal programs, shower and locker services, housing follow-up workers, outreach van, sex worker program, and voice mail projects.

Seniors Program – We have a wide variety of programs and social events to exchange information and engage in interactive activities.

Parenting Project - This project provides one-to-one parenting support, along with a series of parenting workshops. Parents for Youth and an ACSA Community Engagement Worker provide the facilitation.

Dorset Park Community Hub – ACSA is the lead agency in the creation of a new community hub funded by the United Way in one of our priority neighbourhoods. Located at 1911 Kennedy Road, it hosts a wide variety of agencies and services.

Newcomer Settlement Services - include ESL classes, newcomer workshops, mentorships, conversation circles as well as supports to newcomers from the LGBTQ community.

The Forced Marriage Initiative provides outreach to young women within the TDSB. The project also provides on- site training to service agencies on issues relating to Forced Marriage, how to identify women who may be forced into marriage, and how to find the supports necessary for them.

The Civic Awareness Project trains newcomers in civics. Students will be taught how the government works, from the municipal to the federal levels, as a way of helping newcomers become more engaged in the political arena.

The Modern Batik Program

The Modern Batik Program is geared towards youth aged 13 to 19. The main objective of the program is to provide the necessary art and business skills that will allow youth participants to sell and profit from their art independently. Each youth will learn and master the art of modern batik through a series of workshops to produce individual art pieces. Modern Batik Art is a revolutionary art technique for producing detailed design on fabric. This art form has elevated a basic craft to fine art status. While still using the traditional wax and dye method, it incorporates several new techniques that provide extraordinary flexibility to any artist’s work. The workshops’ artistic director/instructor is a renowned Modern Batik artist, David Kibuuka; who co-created the Modern Batik Art technique. His workshops have been well received in North America, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean.

Youth are provided a variety of skills and experience through knowledge of art, business, entrepreneurship and social enterprising skills. These skills will support youth participants by increasing income opportunities through knowledge gained and practical application of creating art and selling it for profit. Additionally, the youth will be learning in a positive and safe space, where they will have an opportunity to form positive peer relations, build life-skills, and leadership development. By providing these benefits, the Modern Batik program will provide youth multiple opportunities that will create and enable positive outcomes.  

Funding and Program Partners

Throughout the years, the Modern Batik Program was able to develop and implement successfully with the help of our funders at RBC, Laidlaw Foundation, and the Toronto Community Foundation. We thank them for believing and supporting our commitment in serving youth to realize their full potential.

Program Impact

When youth graduate from ACSA’s Modern Batik Program, they are encouraged to become a member of the Modern Batik Movement. This network operates similarly to a ‘modern day guild’, providing the necessary support for graduates of this program to continue producing art with the support of like-minded youth, who collectively share resources and materials that are needed to produce Modern Batik art. Therefore, the overarching objective for this network highlights a youth driven modern day guild, made up of individual social entrepreneurs, who have a dual goal of producing accessible art for profit, and creating a social impact in their respective communities.

To date, ACSA works in partnership with the Modern Batik Movement to deliver the Modern Batik Program in two of Toronto’s priority communities – Dorset Park and Steeles/L’Amoreaux. Since the inception of the first series of Modern Batik workshops in 2010, ACSA has worked to support this youth-led social venture by strengthening its network, developing business partners, providing access to storage and space, grant writing, coordinating art exhibitions, and developing textile goods. In 2012, there are several projects that will launch this program into a sustainable social venture, which includes selling an annual calendar, online Netshop (www.mbgallery.ca), and community/private exhibition fundraisers.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

On average, 17.2% of young Torontonians (between 15 and 24) were unemployed in 2011. The rate dropped slightly from highs in 2009 (18.36%) and 2010 (18.48%). (Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2012)

The youth unemployment rate, already much higher than the overall unemployment rate, jumped 15% over June 2011, to 19.8% (unadjusted for seasonality). That’s significantly higher than the 14.2% national youth unemployment figure. (Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2012)

Participant Vignette

“Modern Batik has impacted my life in more than one way. It not only teaches me to be patient because there’s such a repetitive process but also, it gives me a new way to express myself through different designs, patterns and colors. This is different from other art mediums because we are using similar tools, but the technique to accomplishing a piece through Modern Batik is much more unique and is something that stands out to me more because it incorporates hot wax. Learning about Modern Batik has been beneficial.” – MoBat Karen

“For me, the Modern Batik program really did boost my confidence, and get me off the track that I was on in life, like, away from gangs and violence and other things and brought me to where I am today.” - MoBat Sam

The following link is a video created by a Ryerson student during his placement at ACSA. The video was recorded during the Modern Batik program held by ACSA and visually explains what Modern Batik art is and how it is created. This video also features feedback from MoBats from MBM:https://www.dropbox.com/s/igm5h95ivrjoedk/modernbatik_1.mp4

Community Engagement Programs

Conmmunity Engagement programs are projects that function as community hubs where people could come to access information and programs and services provided by different social service agencies. These projects are about neighbourhood revitalization and creating opportunities that enable local residents to play a central role in shaping their neighbourhoods. These programs aims to establish resident led neighbourhood associations that will produce a vision and develop plans to bring about positive change in their communities. It will provide a strengthened influence of local residents, enhanced quality of neighbourhood life, and increase access to resources.

Funding and Program Partners

This initiative is primarily funded by the United Way.

Program Impact

This program has had a positive impact on the neighbourhoods in which they are a part of. We have seen residents developing a resident action plan in which they have identified priorities of the community. This helps to promote community pride and internal networks among neighbours. Through these programs we have seen the emergence of capable community leaders through the many leadership opportunities that is provided by this project. We have also seen an increase access of resources for the community. New services and infrastructure are introduced to under serviced areas of the city, neighbourhoods offer a range of shops and services that are accessible and responsive to local demand and local residents feel that their vision for a strong and vital neighbourhood is achievable.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

Toronto residents have a strong sense of belonging to their city: 87% of respondents to a recent poll said that “Torontonian” best describes who they are. The sense of identification with the city was stronger in Toronto than in the other three of Canada’s largest cities. (Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2012)

79.1% of youth in the city report a somewhat strong, or strong sense of belonging to their local community, according to estimates on the 2011 Statistics Canada Health Indicator Profile. The numbers fluctuate somewhat year over year, but have remained above 75% for the past 4 years (from a high of 79.6% in 2008 to a low of 75.1% in 2010.) (Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2012)Participant Vignette

"When I first moved to Dorset Park, I did not know anyone. I tried my very best to get adapted with my community and its surrounding but I was having some difficulties in the process as I did not know anyone. One faithful day I found out about ANC, which forever changed my outlook on life in Canada. I first went to ANC to network with individuals from my community and also with service providers in the area. ANC did more for me than just introducing me to community residents and service providers; ANC has played a key and vital role in sculpting the person that I am today. The community engagement workers from ANC encouraged me to take part in community events and initiatives. I started volunteering at ANC, helping them to setup and run different events in the community, such as Dorset Park Day. I was told by one the community engagement workers about a special grant called “Quick Start”, where I could write a proposal for a community project and if my proposal was selected, I would then be given funding for my project. ANC helped me work on my grant, as I have never done something like that before. When my grant was selected I was so happy because this was something quite out of the ordinary for me. I had a tremendous feeling of accomplishment and I believed at that point that anything was possible. I have been and still am presently involved in many groups in the Dorset Park community, such as: the Youth Crisis Response Team, The Dorset Park Neighbourhood Association, Youth Vision in Action and I was recently awarded The New Pioneers Award and a Community Leaders award by United Way for my work in Dorset Park. I am very grateful to ANC in all that they have done for the community let alone myself. ANC has helped me to grow tremendously as a humanitarian, and now I have dreams of one day becoming a politician and helping with the betterment of people’s lives everywhere."

Child and Family Programs

This program focuses on engaging children in activities that will support their wellness and development in a variety of ways. Qualified staff support and implement physical and active development by exploring new recreational activities and promoting an active lifestyle. Children are involved in social skills activities that support better relationships with their peers, increased awareness of safety and self esteem. We also provide programs for children 0-6 years and their caregiver. The program provides families with young children an environment which is friendly, supportive, and educational as well as an opportunity to network with other families.

Program Impact

Our child and family programs have a positive impact on the community as our programs are always full and have waiting lists. Our programs are unique as they offer an environment for family grouping. Children have an opportunity to develop social skills and experience learning activities in a child centred learning environment. Families needing other community supports are identified early and provided the resources to help them succeed. Since the majority of our participants are from low income families, our programs are free of charge. The after school program allows the children to use their creative imagination as well as receive homework support on a daily basis.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

In July 2012, there were 21,605 children on the City’s waiting list for a childcare fee subsidy, an increase of 9.1% in just 9 months, and up 21% from June 2010. (Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2012)

In Toronto, only 1 school in 4 has before- and after-school programs for students up to the age of 12 (compared to 33% across the province). (Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2012)

Participant Vignette

I would like to take a moment to commend ACSA for putting together such a thoughtful and well executed after-school program at Dorset Park this year. I emphatically believe it to be a resounding success on several fronts; and would not hesitate to endorse such a program based on the work and interaction I have personally witnessed between your staff and the children in their charge.

The two after school teachers at Dorset Park P.S. have demonstrated a level of care and professionalism with the children, as well as much needed corroboration with their parents in a manner that has been obviously beneficial to both. Specifically, I (and my wife when available), continue to have almost daily conversations with either teacher about our children’s performance within the program. Both have provided respectfully candid accounts of how our two boys interact with other children; render their attention in group settings; and participate in prescribed activities.

In addition, the after school teachers have shown refreshing creativity at times when it was necessary to redirect undesirable behaviour; and supported their actions with open follow-up with parents so that we may do our part to reinforce positive behaviour. For instance, at a time when our otherwise introverted son began to find his outlet in comical antics, one of the teachers took the time to have a one on one talk with him about the difference between positive and negative attention - a simple measure that also contributed to his improved daytime performance. Furthermore, the teachers came up with the exercise of having kids reflect on questionable behaviour through written journal entries about their motivation for decisions and choices made that were not entirely positive. I was pleasantly impressed with each of their constructive methods of intervention.

As someone who is self-employed, I can attest first hand to the benefits of instilling a ‘can-do’ attitude in children at a young age, and much of what I have learned about myself and my abilities can be traced back to my early involvement in both physical and group activities. The ACSA after-school program is an excellent initiative which has significantly boosted our children’s process of self-discovery. I truly hope it will be available for my children next year and years to follow. Thank you once again for providing such a positive avenue for our children.” Yours Truly, Sheldon John(Parent)

What You Can Do

 

The Modern Batik Program

Activities a donation will support

Although there is much anticipated success for the Modern Batik program, ACSA is short of staff to fully execute the program.  Currently, ACSA relies on volunteer staff to assist with the coordination of the program, but needs a full-time staff dedicated to the program. Financial support would help employ a full-time project coordinator to effectively engage youth participants, create and connect youth participants to opportunities (art exhibitions and workshops) and market the Modern Batik Program products.

Donation impact

The Modern Batik Program has accumulated an inventory of products, garments and calendars. The sale of these items would begin the process of redirecting the proceeds back into the program and ensuring that more opportunities are available to youth from Toronto’s priority neighbourhoods who are in need of economic opportunities.

Community Engagement Programs

Activities a donation will support

A TCF grant will support resident led community engagement, training and capacity building. Residents with this support will learn how to identify and address challenges in their local community as well as support meaningful engagement, activities and events. Community Engagement allows residents to work together to build networks and sustainable support systems amongst each other. CE events bring together residents to share and build on their assets as a community.

Donation impact

With resources from TCF, local residents in Scarborough will work towards they change they want to see in their community. Instead of hands outs they will learn from hand ups. Example of work that has happened in the past are community clean ups, Diversity Celebrations, and Community Gardens.

Child and Family Programs

Activities a donation will support

A TCF grant would help ACSA increase the support and services we provide in our Child and Family Centre such as, family drop-in, parent and taught programs, parenting programs and healthy nutrition workshops and supports for low income families. ACSA works amongst some of Toronto’s most marginalized communities. Over 90% of our clients in the Child and Family Programs are newcomers and face additional barriers such as food security, being under housed and lack sufficient employment.

Donation impact

Children are our future. TCF resources will help ACSA educate, inform and support the children and families who need us most. Children and families without the generous support of donors like you would not otherwise have access to such resources.

Contact

Lee Soda
Executive Director
416.321.6912 x230
Charitable Number: 106688641RR0001

Finance & Governance

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