The PACT Urban Peace Program

The PACT Urban Peace Program is an award-winning, result driven and cost conscious registered Canadian charity dedicated to working with, supporting and empowering under served and at-risk youth, as well as youth already in conflict with the law.

Our Impact Why We Exist

PACT (Participation, Acknowledgement, Commitment, and Transformation) builds peace and hope in our urban communities by helping youth reach their full potential in life. PACT does this through strategic partnerships with the police, courts, probation, schools, other youth focused agencies and community partners and funders. PACT designs and delivers innovative and original programming such as the Prism Award winning LifePlan Coaching Program for higher risk repeat offenders (14-18) as well as a whole number of hands-on Life and Job Skills focused community service projects that provide safe spaces for all youth (14-21) to explore vocational opportunities and build their resumes in practical real world safe and nurturing environments. Youth that attend PACT LifeSkills Community Service projects (some also offered as integrated afterschool programming) can complete community service orders (CSO)  for Court and/or required cvolunteer hours for high school graduation, but just as importantly they stay active and busy, gain self esteem and valuable experience for their resumes in a team building environment, while also positively connecting to and giving back in meaningful ways to their communities.

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

The Canadian Foundation for the Prevention of Family Violence, (PACT’s parent organization) was incorporated in 1995. The foundation was started by a small group of volunteers in the community, all with the unwavering purpose to break the cycle of violence perpetuated through abusive conduct in the home. The mission of the foundation is the development, research and delivery of treatment-and-education programs for children and youth, all designed to break the intergenerational cycle of family violence.

Founders David Lockett and Dan Cornacchia had previously created the Redwood Shelter for survivors of family violence in Parkdale in the early 1990s. Lockett and Cornacchia took Redwood from initial concept, through its grassroots beginning, major fundraising efforts and its construction and official opening in 1993. Lockett was also founding president of the shelter.

From that experience, David and Dan decided they should initiate programs that break the cycle of violence in our communities and homes at the causal level. They developed a program (PACT) that addresses the causes of violence, not just its effects.

PACT started out by working exclusively with youth in conflict with the law referred directly from the courts/probation, but realized the enormous societal benefit of getting to kids early before they ended up in the youth justice system. To that end PACT recently expanded its peace mandate by partnering with the schools in high-risk neighbourhoods, the police (and their pre-charge diversion programs) and several youth-focused employment/community agencies.

PACT is creating peace in its urban environment by working with youth across the whole risk spectrum, including under served and at-risk youth from low-income and priority neighbourhoods, youth in conflict with the law, as well as incarcerated youth who need a more serious intervention and help reintegrating back into society.

Accolades and Accomplishments

PACT's innovative LifePlan Coaching Program was the proud recipient of the International Coach Federation Toronto Chapter's 2013 Prism Award in the non profit sector.

PACT has been recognized by the United Nations:

  •  “It’s one of the most remarkable processes I have ever witnessed." Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, UN independent expert on violence against children

 PACT has been recognized by leaders in the justice system:

  •  “I have been saying for years that the community must combat youth crime. PACT is the realization of that wish.” Honourable Roy McMurtry, Attorney General and Chief Justice of Ontario

 It has won praise for its environmental work through its reforestation project:

  •  “PACT is setting an extraordinary example for everyone in this province.” Donna Cansfield, Minister of Natural Resources

 It has been praised for its urban agricultural initiatives and Farm in the City school yard gardens:

  •  "PACT Grow to Learn has found a successful way to address food security and environmental and nutritional awareness." Cecilia Rocha, Associate Professor, Ryerson University's School of Nutrition and Director of the Centre for Studies in Food Security

In 2006, PACT won the Canadian Urban Institute’s Urban Leadership Award for City Initiatives (along with Pinball Clemons, coach of the Toronto Argos)

PACT also won the ROTARY Inaugural Peace Award in 2010.

PACT Volunteer President and Co-Founder, David Lockett, was recognized as a community leader at Youth Now on Track’s (YNOT) annual fundraising and awards dinner on Saturday May 19th, 2012.

In May 2012, PACT was recognized as a valued Community Partner by JVS at their annual Strictly Business Luncheon that brought together more than 500 leading business executives focused on building partnerships that support social change in the communities they serve.

Our Programs How We Do It

PACT empowers and supports at-risk and under served youth and provides step-by-step action plans to positive change through the following key program areas:

• LifePlan Coaching Program for higher-risk repeat offender youth

• Life and Job Skills-based Community Service Projects for all youth;

• Integrated after-school programming for youth in priority neighbourhoods including our Grow to Learn (GTL) Urban Gardening Project and Food Initiative in partnership with the TDSB.

The LifePlan Coaching Program

The PACT LifePlan Coaching Program is an innovative and powerful program designed for youth in serious and repeat conflict with the law who are motivated towards making positive changes in their lives. PACT works in partnership with the youth courts, specifically judges and probation officers, to help youth who are either on the brink of incarceration or are nearing release from custody. These youth require an intensive intervention and an individualized, structured plan to help them to help themselves turn their lives around one step at a time. Coaching is geared toward building capacity and empowering youth to create personalized plans and positive paths forward. Moreover, it is designed to give youth the confidence and tools to put their own plans into action and the support, structure and acknowledgement to help realize a positive vision for their lives.

Referrals to the coaching program usually come directly from a judge as part of a probation order or bail condition but can also come from probation officers, defense lawyers or other related third party agencies. PACT has developed an upfront  comprehensive assessment and intake process that helps to identify the youth who have a minimum level of stability, are most ready for coaching (and change), can articulate goals and thus have the best opportunity for success in the program. Referrals that come as part of an official judicial order from the court help provide the leverage required to motivate the youth to participate early on as well as keep them on track for the time that they are in the program.

Funding and Program Partners

PACT has a long and valued connection to and partnership with Rotary, with both founders being charter members of the Rotary Club of Parkdale. To date, PACT has received funding from over 25 Rotary Clubs across the GTA and many have supported PACT for multiple years and with substantial donations. In fact, a major percentage of the important funding required to power the LifePlan Coaching program working with higher risk repeat offender youth comes directly from Rotary Clubs and their members.

Here is a list of all the Rotary Clubs that have supported PACT over the past few years:

Rotary Club of Toronto (Main)

Rotary Club of Etobicoke

Rotary Club of Mississauga (Main)

Rotary Club of Toronto Eglinton

Rotary Club Toronto West

Rotary Club of Palgrave

Rotary Club of Willowdale

Rotary Club of Markham Sunrise

Rotary Club of East York

Rotary Club of Parkdale-Highpark

Rotary Club of North Scarborough

Rotary Club of North York

Rotary Club of Mississauga Streetsville

Rotary Club of Toronto Sunrise

Rotary Club of Agincourt

Rotary Club of Forest Hill

Mississauga Rotaract Club

Program Impact

PACT LifePlan Coaching works with youth who are either on the brink of incarceration or are nearing release from custody. Approximately 80% of all youth related charges and associated system costs in Canada can be directly attributed to just 15% of the overall youth that are in conflict with the law. It is this specific group of repeat offenders that take up so much of the justice system's limited time and resources and also cost society millions of dollars, that the PACT LifePlan Coaching Program was designed to help and address.

Our Coaching Program has now been operating and constantly improving for over 8 years and is a unique tool for judges in Canada. This program was designed to work with the revolving door offender youth that no one else has been able to help (that 15% referenced above). We have seen our overall success rate increase from 47% in 2012 to 51% in 2013. Success in this context means the youth completed a minimum of one year in the program where they did not reoffend, attended weekly coaching sessions, addressed a number of their individual needs and established and worked towards achieving goals articulated in their customized Life Plan. 

The recent results of a third party evaluation of our LifePlan Coaching Program in Belleville by the John Howard Society of Ontario (the full report can be provided upon request) clearly demonstrates the power of the coaching process. With a 68% success rate in this rural environment, the findings clearly indicate that our Program (and the coaching model) is having a direct and meaningful impact on reducing the recidivism rate of repeat youth offenders helping them break the cycle of criminal behavior and poverty and embrace new lives and identities as productive, responsible and law abiding citizens.

LifeSkills & Community Service Projects

PACT takes a holistic approach to creating peace across Toronto. It is important to ensure that at-risk youth are channeled into skills programs to “ignite a passion” and that lead to higher education or employment opportunities. Life and job skills need to be taught to all youth, and especially those living in priority neighbourhoods and who are marginalized, at risk or in trouble with the law.

PACT has developed a suite of introductory and experiential life and job skills projects that offer a positive opportunity for underserved and at-risk youth as well as youth already in conflict with the law to learn practical real world skills in a safe and nurturing envronemt that they do not learn in the traditional school system and curriculum. All projects are accessible but also flexible enough to support all skill levels, allowing youth to come back as mentors and to hone their specific as well as leadership skills in advanced placements and opportunties.

PACT empowers youth, fosters team-building behaviour and develops self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment while acting as a stepping-stone to future gainful employment and/or more advanced training, apprenticeship or educational opportunities.

These projects are designed to ignite a passion in youth and give them career and job opportunities. Moreover, PACT LifeSkills projects offer a positive opportunity for at–risk youth and youth in conflict with the law to make restitution for their behaviour through contribution, thereby allowing them to begin constructive and meaningful reintegration back into the community. All PACT life and Job skills pojects p

PACT LifeSkills Projects:

  • PACTFilm - A project where youth make short films and public service announcements.
  • PACTCooking - A culinary project teaching youth how to cook healthy food from around the world.
  • PACTForestry - An urban reforestation project that connects youth to the natural world.
  • PACTRocks - An interactive music workshop culminating in a community concert.
  • PACT “Grow to Learn”- An urban agricultural project connected to schools and communities.
  • PACTBuild - A wall finishing and renovations project providing community outreach to other not for profits and charities.
  • PACTFashion - A real world sewing and design project.

Funding and Program Partners

PACT partners with many different organizations and agencies from within the community that work with at-risk youth including Probation, TDSB, Youth Employment Services (YES), Covenant House, St. Stephen’s Community House, Operation Springboard and Associated Youth Service of Peel (AYSP). Many of these organizations refer youth into the PACT LifeSkills projects.

Some of the key funders of our LifeSkills projects (past and reoccurring) have been Graham Munro Charitable Foundation, Mattamy Homes, Ace Bakery, CIBC (PACTCooking), TD Friends of the Environment (Grow to Learn and PACTForestry), The Home Depot (PACTBuild), Fabricland (PACTFashion) and several Toronto based Rotary Clubs (PACTFilm).

Program Impact

PACT introduced its first PACTCooking LifeSkills project in 2005. Since then, PACT has expanded its offering to eight projects and PACT leaders have worked with over 2500 at-risk and underprivileged youth. These youth have fulfilled community service hours, upgraded their resumes with practical real world job skills and simply stayed busy and connected during the after school and summer hours when many unsupervised youth tend to otherwise get into trouble.

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

The youth unemployment rate in Toronto remained above 17% in 2011:

The average unemployment rate for 15-24 year-olds remained 51% higher than in 2001.

In June 2012, youth unemployment was 19.8% (unadjusted for seasonality) —significantly higher than the 14.2% national youth unemployement figure.  (Toronto Vital Signs®, 2012)

Participant Vignette

Alejandra had fled South America to get her sons Mauricio and Fredy away from the drug cartel to which their father was exposing the boys. She left her husband and country to bring her boys to Canada for a chance at a drug and crime-free life.

Alejandra brought them to Toronto, but as a single mother with no support network, some of the negative imprinting stayed with them. While in Canada, the boys were starting to get involved in stealing cars and doing drugs.

The boys got caught and charged and as part of their sentence their probation officer assigned them to get involved in PACTRocks, one of PACT’s eight LifeSkills projects for at-risk youth. The program is the first support Alejandra has had for her boys; it has not only changed their life but hers as well. Where once she was afraid and fearful for them, she is now proud of her boys' interest in this program and in music.

“Music has changed their lives” said Alejandra. “For the first time Mauricio and Fredy would rather spend hours on music instead of stealing and doing drugs. PACT made them feel welcome and encouraged them so much they feel hope for the first time in their new country, something they have never had before.”

What You Can Do

The LifePlan Coaching Program

Activities a donation will support

This request doesn’t include back-end administrative costs and instead focuses on the biggest need – covering basic costs and ensuring a minimum incentive for PACT Life Coaches.

  • $1,300 ($25 per week) covers one coach’s out of pocket expenses (travel, a meal with the youth, necessities) to support one high-risk youth for a year.
  • A grant of $3,600 covers the weekly honorarium ($75) for one professionally certified PACT life coach to work with a high-risk youth for a period of one year. The cost of keeping that youth in jail for that same period of time is well over $100,000.

Donation impact

Fifteen per cent of youth are responsible for the large majority of overall youth crimes and related charges. This revolving door of repeat offenders overwhelms the youth justice system. PACT gets to these youth early before they become habitual adult criminals and cost their communities and families a lifetime of pain, and the system millions of dollars.

A grant made to the PACT LifePlan Coaching Program will go directly to the front lines allowing PACT to bring on and train more certified Life Coaches, thereby making our city and our streets a much safer and more peaceful place to live.

Coaching is not counseling or therapy - it's a specific conversational process about facilitating change from where the youth currently is to where they want to be. Coaching is geared toward building capacity and empowering youth to create personalized plans and positive paths forward. Moreover, it is designed to give youth the confidence and tools to put their own plans into action and the support, structure and acknowledgement to help realize a positive vision for their lives.

LifeSkills & Community Service Projects

Activities a donation will support

PACT will be able to focus on an expansion of its LifeSkills projects, including an expansion of the Grow to Learn schoolyard urban agricultural garden initiative to several high schools and middle schools across Toronto. PACT will be able to increase opportunities for youth with tier-2 and tier-3 support in our LifeSkills projects by building out social enterprise/employment and educational opportunities.

These opportunities include:

  • a farmers market and entrepreneurial garden plots
  • film productions for charity organizations
  • providing honourariums to youth working on wall finishing and painting jobs for other community chasrities as part of PACTBuild outreeach initiatives.
  • PACTRocks bands as entertainment for parties and fundraisers
  • PACTFashion wedding/prom dresses and designer bags for sale
  • A catering operation and line of PACT food products as an extension of PACTCooking and using our own organic produce
  • PACT will be able to increase and train additional staff to support expansion
  • PACT will be able to build out its School of Social Change to teach other communities how to support urban peace

Donation impact

Grants to this program area will allow us to have an even greater positive impact in creating peace across the city by increasing our presence in priority neighbourhoods and by taking our LifeSkills projects such as PACTCooking directly to where the most at-risk and homeless youth are at, by partnering with shelter organizations such as Covenant House and their new teaching kitchen as well as community hubs such as the East Scarborough Storefront.


Ben Marshall
Director of Program Development
Charitable Number: 895965374RR0001

Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 400,051


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