Toronto Centre for Community Learning & Development

Creating a strong culture of community engagement through capacity-building, progressive learning and innovative training.

Our Impact Why We Exist

A sense of belonging. The knowledge and skills to participate fully in the community. An opportunity to learn and grow and fulfill potential. These are the hopes and dreams of newcomers to Canada, and many others who live in Regent Park, Moss Park and St. Jamestown, as well as other neighbourhoods across Toronto. The Centre for Community Learning & Development helps members of these communities make a strong, new start. Our training helps individuals get established and engaged. And we connect them with opportunities to build stronger communities.

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

Formerly known as East End Literacy, the organization was founded in 1979 as a community-based literacy organization serving the downtown east-side of Toronto. Over the past 3 decades, the organization has seen a growing demand in learning programs and economic opportunities. In response to this growing community need, CCL&D’s curriculum has now expanded to not only provide adult literacy programs, but to accommodate a wide-range of individuals in need of academic upgrading, leadership training and skills development, serving the various communities in Toronto.

In October 2006, EEL was granted permission by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to change its name to Toronto Centre for Community Learning & Development (CCL&D). Through CCL&D programs such as Immigrant Women Integration Program (IWIP) and Academic Upgrading (Literacy & Basic Skills), Youth Empowering Parents (YEP), CCL&D brings about positive social change in concert with other community organizations.

CCL&D is an organization committed to providing a wide-rage of training and education programs for Toronto communities, to facilitate continuing education, skills training and enhancement, economic opportunities, and community engagement.

Accolades and Accomplishments

Since 1979, CCL&D’s Academic Upgrading Program (Literacy & Basic Skills) has been achieving good success rate in transitioning students to further education, training or employment.

From its roots as a community-based literacy organization, CCL&D launched the Immigrant Women Integration Program (IWIP) in 2002.  IWIP addresses issues of immigrant isolation, lack of culturally sensitive services, and language barriers that face new immigrants as they attempt to get started in Toronto. The focus and emphasis of this training is on neighbourhood engagement and leadership development.  Trainees consistently demonstrate increased skills and play significant roles in facilitating access to services and improved social outcomes for themselves, other newcomer women and their families.  Each year, 90 to 95% of trainees find employment after program completion. Through the trainees, CCL&D has been able to provide support and information to women and families who speak English and a variety of other languages.

In 2006, IWIP was recognized as a Vital Idea by the Toronto Community Foundation, and in 2012, Youth Empowering Parents (YEP) was also recognized. Vital Ideas is based on TCF's Vital Signs® framework, and recognizes initiatives that improve Toronto’s quality of life. YEP also received the prestigious United Nations Intercultural Innovation Award in 2011.

Alfred Jean-Baptiste, CCL&D’s Executive Director, has been raising public awareness and understanding of literacy issues. In 2004, he was conferred an Honorary Member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, Ryerson University Chapter. Jean-Baptiste is also a recipient of the 2008 Council of the Federation Literacy Award for the Province of Ontario.

Our Programs How We Do It

Immigrant Women Integration Program  (IWIP): A one-year intensive training course for immigrant women with focus and emphasis on community engagement and leadership development.

Participants are trained to strengthen their analysis of issues, develop their knowledge of governance structures, build their capacity to organize, and participate in local organizations and/or public institutions. Trainees receive structured coaching and participate in sessions, dialogues, critical reflections and other activities to develop their skills, knowledge, attitudes and values.

Academic Upgrading (Literacy & Basic Skills): For individuals (adults) with a desire to improve their academic abilities:  reading, writing, numeracy, communication management, and computer skills that will enable them to proceed to further education and training, or employment. The program is student-centred, and goal-oriented, tailored to each individual’s training plan.

Civic Engagement and Community Development Initiative (CECDI): A part-time community-based training program that piloted in 2010. The program runs for 6 months and takes up to 15 residents from Regent Park, Moss Park and St. James Town. CECDI trains these residents to learn about today’s most pressing issues in Canadian neighbourhoods and their crucial role in solving these problems by becoming civic members of their communities. Through this initiative, we hope to develop a cadre of up to 15 lead community facilitators with increased awareness, knowledge, community engagement skills and a commitment in playing a meaningful role in facilitating the development of skills and knowledge of others to engage in community development and/or become more active citizens.

Youth Empowering Parents (YEP): Youth Empowering Parents is considered a model of social innovation, and has recently honoured with The Intercultural Innovation Award, a partnership between the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the BMW Group. YEP offers English and computer courses to low-English speaking adults – but in an untraditional way. Traditional classrooms consist of one educator delivering lessons to a group of students. At YEP, the educator instead provides teaching guidelines to a group of youth volunteers, and then facilitates a classroom in which youth do the majority of the teaching. For every newcomer adult, there is one youth who speaks the same language as them in order to provide one-on-one tutoring.

Clear Language and Design (CLAD): An integrated fee-for-service division geared toward raising public awareness around the impact of inaccessible language on the population in general, but more specifically on people with low literacy skills.  Through this service CLAD continues to work with public and private sector organizations (including pharmaceutical companies, the City of Toronto, Ministry of Health & Long-term Care, just to name a few) to help make their materials more accessible to their own staff and the general public.  

Digital Storytelling Toronto: CCL&D’s Digital Storytelling unit is a new and innovative partnership, supporting the goal of assisting people in using the tools of digital media to craft, record, share, and value the stories of individuals and communities, in ways that improve lives.  It supports CCL&D’s strategic priority of building high quality training/services relevant to today’s technology.


Immigrant Women Integration Program (IWIP)

Immigrant Women Integration Program (IWIP) is a community leadership development initiative, designed to support efforts to accelerate change and solve social problems (such as poverty reduction, racial equity, community safety), and help improve the quality of life in underserved and under-resourced communities. It is an investment in individuals who are interested in developing their awareness and capacity to change what is happening in their communities.

IWIP was formed in 2002 to reduce the number of newcomer women in the community who experience isolation and enhance their capacity to access resources, information and services that will help to increase their independence and/or employability. The program addresses issues of immigrant isolation, lack of culturally sensitive services, and language barriers that face new immigrants as they attempt to get started in Toronto.

The focus and emphasis of this training is on neighbourhood engagement and leadership development. Through IWIP, newcomer women in the community are able to strengthen their analysis of issues, develop their knowledge of governance structures, build their capacity to organize, and participate in local organizations and/or public institutions.

Funding and Program Partners

United Way Toronto

City of Toronto

Program Impact

IWIP impacts on three levels:

Individual: Through training, conducting workshops and internships, the program builds the individual capacity of trainees.  And while employment is not specified as a direct outcome, majority of graduates find jobs as a direct result of their training.

Community: As trainees apply what they learn in the training by conducting outreach, delivering workshops and seminars, and facilitating leadership circles, they help to expand the knowledge-base of more immigrant women in their neighbourhoods.  They also expand their individual networks, and increase access to resources for friends and family, and enhance their sense of belonging - the building blocks of social capital.

Service Agencies:  There is value added to the capacity of agencies through the internship component of the program. Through the work of IWIP placements, agencies are able to expand their links and relationships with newcomer communities.  One obvious advantage is the opportunity to make programs and services accessible to more culturally and linguistically diverse segments of the community.

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

Who is working in Toronto and who isn't? By 2012, Ontario unemployment rates for workers (25 years +) returned to pre-recession levels of about 8%.

"For recent immigrants in the Toronto Region, the unemployment rate was 14.6% in 2012, compared to only 7.4% for those in Canada 10 years or more"

“Sense of belonging grows in Toronto, but the Region’s diversity is still not reflected in its leadership:

 • Most Torontonians feel they belong to their local community, but discrimination erodes a sense of identification with Canada.

 • Visible minorities are under-represented in most leadership positions in the Greater Toronto area.

 • Appointments of women to the governing bodies of agencies increased from 30% in 2004, to 47% 2007 and 49% in 2008.

 • In 2009, Toronto established an Office of Civic Engagement to increase the diversity of representation in the City’s decision-making processes.” 

Participant Vignette

Despite her initial disappointment, Joanna continued searching for answers towards a better career path, one that would capitalize on her experience in China as a teacher; she came across the Immigrant Women’s Integration Program (IWIP). It was here that that Joanna began to see potential for a professional future.

“IWIP focuses on the leadership and development training for immigrant women especially on community development engagement. In China, I was a computer science teacher, so naturally I want to help others with my knowledge,” Joanna says.

The sense of community and the culture of support received at IWIP also helped Joanna gain the necessary confidence and perspective she needed to pursue her career.

“Through training, I learned skills and gained knowledge from the instructors at CCL&D. My communication skills were greatly improved and I became more confident. I studied and worked not only individually but also in a team,” Joanna recalls.

Joanna is now employed as a Training Manager for a newcomer training organization, and says she has successfully transferred her past professional knowledge to her current community service work.

Joanna says that for her, the Community Capacity Building and Neighbourhood Engagement program is one part of the IWIP program that resonated most with her. She also worked on Community Needs Assessment that helped her investigate the issues facing her community, and how to solve them by using Theory of Change model and critical thinking. More importantly, this is where she also learned the difference between community development and community capacity building.

When asked what her biggest challenge was, Joanna answers, “It was how to use the critical thinking in learning and working. As a community worker, we must understand that not everything happens logically. We need use critical thinking to analyze and solve the social problems.”

For Joanna Hong, being able to overcome initial difficulties and surpass her immigrant expectations by not only improving her skills and experience but by also giving back to the community is a truly great achievement. She hopes her story will inspire others to persevere in their careers.

“I benefited a lot from CCL&D for the spirit of cooperative teamwork and the spirit of dedicating to community development in my life.”

Youth Empowering Parents (Y.E.P.)

Youth Empowering Parents was developed out of the shared experiences of a group of Regent Park youth. It pairs adults with volunteer youth who speak the same language, and then trains youth to delivery one-on-one tutoring to that adult in English and computer skills. 

We elected to do this for a number of reasons:

  • This type of adult-youth interaction is not a new phenomenon. Many youth have parents who lack English and computer proficiency, and consequently those youth have taught, and continue to teach, their parents those basic skills at home.
  • Many adults may be less willing to ask for help in a large classroom due to insecurities with speaking publicly in English. The language similarities help to expedite learning.
  • The benefit of a personal tutor allows adults to learn at their own pace.

The goal is to empower youth to become leaders within their own community, and to provide adults with private tutoring education at no cost. 

Funding and Program Partners

YEP has received small grants from Toronto Community Housing Corproation, TELUS, the Acapella Foundation, and was recognized as a Vital Idea by the Toronto Community Foundation in 2012.

Program Impact

YEP has educated and empowered over 150 Regent Park residents. It offers at-risk youth a meaningful volunteer experience, whilst allowing low-income adults to receive premium education at no cost. Through YEP, youth have contributed more than 5000 volunteer hours in their own community. Assuming a value of $10/hr for private tutoring fees, it means that youth have contributed the value of $50,000 of educational services into Regent Park. 

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

"Within 20 years, about 1 in 5 immigrants across the country with low English literacy levels (1,033,600 people) will be living in Toronto – a 79% increase over the current number of adult immigrants in the Region who have difficulty functioning with written material in English." 

Participant Vignette

"I came because I like helping people...  It's the same as helping my own parents". 

- Hoore Jannat, age 13 - YEP Teacher.

"I am learning in my own language and in a away I understand... I am learning more and more each day".

- Santash Ralhan, age 54 - Student at YEP.

What You Can Do

Immigrant Women Integration Program (IWIP)

Activities a donation will support

Every $5,000 invested in the IWIP program will cover the cost of up to 25 workshops delivered by trainees to residents in their respective neighbourhoods, in English and a variety of other languages, on topics and issues such as civic engagement, financial literacy,  health,  human rights, accessing programs and services.

Donation impact

With financial support, CCL&D will be able to enhance it's outreach and community engagement capacity. Enhanced activities would include resident-led community-based research, along with more active service-learning partnerships with Ryerson University and University of Toronto.

The above will result in an increase in the number if residents equipped with tools to adopt solution-oriented strategies for tackling local community issues.  More and more residents will be in a postion to give back to their communities, and have added insight into our societal structures, issues and challenges. Our partnership with the universities will also offer residents increased access to social, academic and professional learning opportunities.


Youth Empowering Parents (Y.E.P.)

Activities a donation will support

For every $5,000 invested, 15 youth from the YEP program can receive intensive information & referral training to serve as information ambassadors for their peers, families, friends and neighbours.

Donation impact

With financial support, CCL&D will work with with communities across Toronto to provide free, accessible one-on-one tutoring, promote intergenerational learning, and promote a perception of youth as meaningdul contributors to community.

Rather than a traditional classroom with an instructor, YEP trains youth with the skills to act as effective volunteer tutors for adults in their community.

Since it began in 2010, we have served over 600 participants with a retention rate of over 80% for both youth and adults. 


Alfred Jean-Baptiste
Executive Director

Finance & Governance


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