Broad Reach Foundation for Youth Leaders

Broad Reach Foundation’s mandate is to advance the life and leadership skills of disadvantaged teens from vulnerable communities through the sport, science and mastery of sailing.

Our Impact Why We Exist

Broad Reach is the only charity in Ontario mandated to engage disadvantaged and vulnerable teens living in underserved, priority neighborhoods in programs based on a sail training model.

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

Founded in 1998 by Adrian Johnson, Broad Reach is the only sailing program for vulnerable youth.

In its first year of operation, a National Yacht Club member donated a 40 foot Screamer to the organization, the club donated dock space. Two volunteers started bringing youth out onto the boat for Wednesday evening sessions. The original goal was to bring vulnerable youth into an environment they may not have otherwise experienced. For the first season, Broad Reach brought 35 participants from 3 Toronto agencies. In its second season, Broad Reach doubled in size, both in participants and in boats. Still run only by volunteers, the foundation managed to spend every Wednesday out on the water with youth.

In the next few years, Broad Reach acquired more sailboats, hired staff, and grew the number of participants to over 300.

Accolades and Accomplishments

In the 17 years Broad Reach has been in operation, we have reached over 2000 youth in the GTA and worked with over 30 agencies. Our program participants have learned to sail, learned to race, and 30 to date have gone on to get their keelboard certification, which puts them on the path to become certified Canadian Yachting Association sailing instructors. Annually, we work with 350+ youth ages 12-24. We are presently leading the development of a Nautical Youth Centre program integration that will create a 3-4 year program continuum to provide the youth with significant and measurable experience and accreditation.

Broad Reach has been featured on Sandie Rinaldo's Success Stories on CTV's national news, profiled in the Toronto Star, honoured as an exemplary grant recipient by the Ontario Trilluim Foundaition, and has secured the National Yacht Club's donation of eight scholarships for the National's Juniors Sailing School. In 2005, Broad Reach was the proud recipient of the Canadian Yachting Association's National Recreation Award.

Broad Reach is proud to attract many individual and corporate donors, and has received multiple sailing vessels over the past 17 years. Recently, the organization was gifted a 55' sailboat valued at over $1M, as well as a 12 metre Screamer class racing sailboat.

Our Programs How We Do It

Sail Training for Vulnerable Youth 

Broad Reach provides a unique experiential learning approach for vulnerable youth between the ages of 12 and 24. It combines sailing instruction and critical life and leadership skills development aboard 6 racing sailboats. The youth come from a wide variety of economic and socially challenging environments such as homeless shelters, mental health and wellness, low income and new immigrant neighborhoods, and street youth drop-in centers. Through on-shore and on-water programming based at Toronto’s HMCS York, the youth engage with Broad Reach staff and volunteers to build self-esteem, acquire essential leadership skills, learn communication and teamwork strategies, and gain courage to break out of negative spaces.

In research conducted by McMaster University  it was found that youth exposure to competitive sport such as sailing could have a positive impact on their life trajectory. Broad Reach works with youth who have limited or no opportunity to experience this exhilarating outdoor activity to create possibilities - shifting and enhancing program participants’ perspectives. At the core of the Broad Reach philosophy is accessibility and inclusion and to that end all programs are provided free of charge. We believe that economics should never be a barrier to possibilities and opportunities including program participation.

Funding and Program Partners

Funding comes from two different streams: donations and grants.

Donations come from both individuals and corporations. Broad Reach holds three main fundraising events annually that garner the attention of individual sponsors of the program: an August golf tournament, a winter sailing vacation around the British Virgin Islands, and a March ski day.

In the past, Broad Reach has received grants from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Green Shield Canada and Rotary Clubs. These grants account for almost half of Broad Reach's revenue.

For the 2014 season, Broad Reach is partnering with the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto to provide a program that focuses on First Nations peoples and the Toronto Islands. 

Program Impact

Our sail training has reached over 2000 youth in the GTA since 1998, and has worked with 30 different agencies. Youth involved in the program have had the opportunity to receive their Basic First Aid, Canadian Yachting Association White Sail, Canadian Yachting Association Basic Cruising Certification, Intermediate Cruising Certification, as well as join the Broad Reach racing team that participates in numerous races in Ontario, including the LO 300 Challenge.

In the summer of 2013, we registered over 290 youth from 9 different agencies across Toronto.

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

"Health and Wellness: Toronto's most critical long-term investment?  Nurturing active, healthy communities."

"Reasons for non-participation are more likely to include lack of time (especially among those with low incomes), and feelings of social isolation, or intimidation, rather than lack of access to, or the availability of, programming."

(Toronto’s Vital Signs® 2011)

Broad Reach Foundation for Youth Leaders aims to knock down any barriers that prevent disadvantaged youth from accessing a social, healthy environment that they may not otherwise seek out or have the opportunity to encounter and enjoy. Through the medium of sailing, Broad Reach participants not only gain confidence and strong leadership skills, but they are able to participate in an outdoor, physical activity. We want all youth to have the opportunity to enjoy this sport.

Participant Vignette

“I’ve never gotten the chance to learn to sail (before Broad Reach). I think it improved my self esteem greatly. I don’t know why. I guess it’s like any inspiring hobby such as remote control helicopter flying or rock climbing. It’s just one of those things that makes life a little easier to live. The two times I have gone sailing -- it was one of those brief periods of time in which I felt like I had a real task, like what I did with the group really needed to be done! I love the teamwork aspect in sailing and I would also love to learn more and pursue this hobby like so many others have before me.”

—Youth participant (name withheld)

What You Can Do

Activities a donation will support

Financial support from donors will go towards the maintenance of the fleet, docking expenses at the marinas, safety equipment, and the launch/haulout of the boats. 

Donations and grants allow us to offer more program support to the youth participants; with financial support, we are able to give participants and their agency representatives TTC fare, meals and snacks on sail days, and proper sailing instruction. For every $175 investment, one youth can participate in the program.

Donation impact

With financial support, Broad Reach will be able to reach more agencies throughout the GTA, and will hopefully be able to expand the program into other areas of Southern Ontario. At the present time, we have a fleet of boats that can support more youth; with donations, we will be able to include more youth in the program.


Marguerite Pyron
Executive Director
416.867.9350 x304
Charitable Number: 891674525RR0001

Finance & Governance


Join the Conversation