ArtReach's goal is to support arts initiatives that engage excluded youth. This is carried out through the provision of resources, mentorship, tools and skill-building opportunities for young artists, youth leaders and youth-led groups and organizations in Toronto.

ArtReach Showcase 2010Our Impact Why We Exist

ArtReach provides training and funding to support youth and young artists, between the ages of 13 and 29, experiencing barriers on the basis of race, neighbourhood, language, newcomer status, disability, gender, sexual orientation or other factors. It also provides supports to youth-led agencies and groups, as well as arts organizations.

“For me, ArtReach has been the biggest supporter of our project..  one of our first supporters, a mentor.” –Project Leader, ArtReach Funded Project

ArtReach Youth PaintingOur Story What We Do

History of Organization

The ArtReach initiative was created in 2005 through a successful collaboration between all three levels of government, as well as community and arts granting organizations. This partnership, known as the ArtReach Funders' Collaborative, was driven by the realization that a growing population of youth in Toronto has little access to relevant arts programming, and that funding needs to be put into the hands of young people directly.  At the same time, there was a growing body of evidence demonstrating that participation in the arts is a very effective means of connecting youth to community. 

ArtReach existed as a pilot project of the Funders' Collaborative for 5 years, and then evolved into a community driven initiative. ArtReach became a project of Tides Canada Initiatives Society (TCI) in March 2012. TCI is a registered Canadian charity dedicated to providing uncommon solutions for the common good by leading and supporting actions that foster a healthy environment and just Canadian society.  TCI is a shared administrative platform, providing governance, human resource, financial, and grant management, for projects across Canada, allowing projects to more effectively achieve their missions.

Accolades and Accomplishments

April 2007 - ArtReach presents the first Youth Arts Dialogue with the former Governor General of Canada, the Honourable Michaelle Jean.

Spring 2009 - ArtReach receives a Vital Ideas award from the Toronto Community Foundation.

Sept 2010 - ArtReach co-presents Governor General's "Can We Talk?" youth arts dialogue that was attended by more than 500 young artists, funders, government officials and members of the business community.

Summer 2010 - ArtReach receives the Foundation of the Year Award from Words, Beats and Life Inc. in 2010 (Washington, DC).

May 2012 - ArtReach’s Director receives an Equity Award for Youth Engagement by the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians

June 2012 - ArtReach was chosen to receive fundraising supports by the two-time Grammy nominated band, Foster the People, at their concert at Downsview Park on June 19, 2012.

May 2013 - Secured a partnership with the Toronto Arts Council that will result in a $300,000 yearly investment in ArtReach Toronto’s grant program.

April 2013 - ArtReach recognized as a "Tides Top 10" for being a groundbreaking initiative that is leading social change innovation.

Youth Music ProgramOur Programs How We Do It

Key Programs:

  • Program One: G.O.A.L Workshop Series
  • Prgram Two: Youth Arts Pitch Contest


GOAL Youth Workshop Series

The Grassroots Organizing and Leadership (GOAL) Youth Capacity Building Workshop Series for Youth is a free series that was developed in 2007 to provide young people (between 13 and 29 years of age), youth-led groups and organizations with access to resources. The evening sessions are offered in TTC accessible locations across Toronto, and provide participants with tangible resources and templates. Young leaders and adults facilitate the sessions, and examples of past topics include Fundraising, Social Media, Evaluation, Financial Management for Nonprofits, Models of Youth Work, Grant Writing 101, 201 and 301. A certificate is provided to participants who attend 5 or more workshops.

Program Impact

More than 2000 youth participants have attended the 95+ workshops ArtReach has put on since 2007. Over 50 youth have acquired a certificate for attending 5 or more workshops. Over 10 toolkits and various film-based resourced have been developed and made accessible online at

“What differentiates ArtReach is their ability to connect with people.  Other organizations often use a lecturing model (they treat us like we’re doing something wrong and they have to fix it); ArtReach engages and empowers us, but we still get the hard knowledge and skills”

“Great, informative workshop.  I’m writing my first report and now the evaluation part makes so much more sense.”

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

The percentage of youth (12 -19) who report a strong sense of belonging has risen 12% since 2008. But in 2012, only six out of 10 young adults (aged 20-34)(59.2%) reported that they felt they belonged.

ArtReach's GOAL youth workshop series provides a safe learning environment, accessible information, resources, tools, mentorship and networking opportunities for youth leaders and artists to build skills to create change in Toronto’s communities.

Youth Arts Pitch Contest

Toronto youth have bright ideas; ideas that can lead to fulfilling careers as artists, entrepreneurs and community leaders. The Youth Arts Pitch Contest is one example of how funds can be distributed to young artists in a more innovative and timely manner than traditional funding programs. Similarly, the contest is important as it provides support to youth groups that are not operating within traditional models, and are finding it difficult to find support. The contest winnings supports these young artists to take their work to the next level of entrepreneurship and project management, enabling them to become meaningful contributors to the arts and culture sector in the City of Toronto. View a previous contest here  -

Program Impact

Six Youth Arts Pitch Contests have been held over the past seven years; $84,500 in cash prizes and $23,250 in secondary and tertiary prize packs have been distributed. 81 youth have been trained in the art of making a pitch.

“Doing the pitch contest helped us to formalize a business plan, because as artists sometimes it’s hard to get into that business brain.”

"The pitch contest changed my life and empowered the way I imagined I could impact community through art. I am significant, my work is significant, and how I inspire others is significant. The pitch contest helped me realize this."

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

City Council increased direct arts funding by $6 million in 2013, with aprojected increase of $17.5 million by 2016, but has yet to reach a goal set a decade ago, of $25 per capita arts and culture spending: Per capita cultural investment currently totals $19.62.

Program Partners

City of Toronto Cultural Services, Grassroots Youth Collaborative, Toronto Community Foundation, Laidlaw Foundation, Schools Without Borders, City of Toronto, and For Youth Initiative, AVNU.

Pitch ContestWhat You Can Do

GOAL Youth Workshop Series

Activities a Donation Will Support

Each workshop requires the following: snacks, refreshments, facilitator honorariums and occasionally resource or toolkit development. Each workshop ranges in cost from $500 to $2,000. An additional $2,500 is required to develop a toolkit and edited film clips from the workshop that would be made available for download from the ArtReach website. This allows youth that are not able to attend workshops, to access and share the tools and resources collected for the learning sessions.  

Donation Impact

With an investment of $1000 to $2,000, ArtReach would be able to provide one workshop for 30 - 50 youth in Toronto. With a contribution of an additional $1,500 - $2,500, ArtReach would be able to develop a toolkit to compile resources and film clips from one workshop to make them available to youth across the city.

Youth Arts Pitch Contest

Activities a donation will support

Financial support will allow us to continue the Youth Arts Pitch Contest at its current funding level. Funds are needed for prizes, training and other aspects of the event.

Donation Impact

With an investment of $5,000, ArtReach would be able to provide a top prize to an individual artist or group of artists. A contribution of $500 or $2,500 would support ArtReach to provide a secondary prize. Other contributions would greatly benefit the training component and other requirements of the contest.


Paulina O'Kieffe
Charitable Number: 868947797RR0001

Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 329,352


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