Tropicana Community Services

Tropicana Community Services, a Toronto-based multi-service organization, provides all youth, newcomers, people of Black and Caribbean heritage and others in need with opportunities and alternatives that lead to success and positive life choices. Our mission is achieved through culturally appropriate programs such as counselling, child care, educational and employment services and youth development.

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

The Organization was founded in 1980 as a non-profit community organization to serve disadvantaged youth and their families, particularly those from the Caribbean.  The first major project implemented was counselling services aimed at teenaged drop-outs in a high need area of Scarborough, Ontario. In 1984, Tropicana established formal links with the United Way of Greater Toronto, and was the first organization from the Black and Caribbean community to become a United Way member-agency.

Accolades and Accomplishments

  • Gained Ontario Camping Association (OCA) status for Camp Tropicana, 1999
  • Implemented the Robert K. Brown scholarship for a student in the field of social services, 2000 (Tropicana’s 20th anniversary).
  • Implemented the Transition Support Worker Program as lead agency in a partnership with JCA and Julliette’s Place, 2000.
  • Introduced Aggression Replacement Training (ART) to the agency and to Toronto, 2003.
  • Developed and implemented Jobs for Youth Program for the City of Toronto, 2004 and 2005
  • Winner of the prestigious Scarborough Chamber of Commerce, Business Excellence Award – Business of the Year, Community Services, 2005
  • Scarborough Walk of Fame Charity Donation Recipient, 2006
  • Developed and implemented Summer Jobs for Youth Program for Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services, 2006-present (over 1100 youth served annually)
  • Developed and implemented young women’s pre-natal workshop, in conjunction with Scarborough Public Health, 1992 – present.

Our Programs How We Do It

At Tropicana we have over 40 programs that fall into six categories, they are:

  • Culturally Appropriate Counselling - allowing clients to develop the necessary tools to build and maintain healthy lifestyles.
  • Daycare Services - offering a safe, enriching and educational environment to children between the ages of 3 months to 12 years.
  • Life Skills Development - (inclusive of Defy Your Label, YouthSTART and ManUp) designed to address the social development needs of youth while fostering positive attittudes, self-worth, civic responsibility and respect of self and others.
  • Education - creating a comfortable learning environment where students are exposed to a variety of positive and rewarding experiences (includes tutoring, chess, steelpan and digital media instruction).
  • Employment Services - including summer job programs for students 15-18 years and newcomer programs. These help prepare youth and adults to meet the challenges of an ever-changing job market and support individuals through career exploration, job search and on-the-job training.
  • Social/Recreational Activities - allowing for creative expression and development through our March break/ summer camp and dance programs.

Defy Your Label

A program for girls 8 to 13 years of age, Defy Your Label provides positive reinforcement to help young girls deal with negative labels and societal pressures during this highly influential stage in their lives. The program strives to assist and encourage young girls to become responsible, socially conscious, healthy and self assertive.

Program Impact

Defy Your Label supports development that is both healthy and age appropriate for young girls during their transition from childhood to adolescence. The positive outcomes of the program – girls with increased confidence and self esteem – have been endorsed by local institutions and, by request, streams of the program are facilitated in Toronto junior and middle public schools by Tropicana staff.

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

"Education is broader than numeracy and literacy — it is about acquiring a set of tools that allow us to bounce back from crisis. Without skills, the cycles of poverty and isolation cannot be overcome"

(Toronto's Vital Signs® 2011)

Defy Your Label uses early intervention strategies to positively engage young girls at a highly influential point in their lives. By working to increase their self esteem and confidence, the girls, who range from age 8-13, are better equipped to navigate their  environment and make positive life choices.

Participant Vignette

"I am writing this letter to let you know what a wonderful job Tropicana is doing for our young girls. My daughter and niece attended the program Defy Your Label and they have learned about the different types of bullying, health, finance, media, what not to wear, conflict resolution, communication, body image, self esteem and confidence. Let me give you a little background about the girls, they are ages 10 and 13 and they are both very shy. My daughter was being bullied at school and she wasn't standing up for herself because it was her friends. After learning about the different types of bullying and the effects she stood up to the bullies and now she is very proud of her accomplishment because the bullying stopped. This is the reason that as a parent I support them (Tropicana) 100% because they are making a difference in these girls' lives and also in the lives of the people they come into contact with."

~Excerpt of a letter from a participant's parent

What You Can Do

Defy Your Label

Activities a donation will support

Investment in this program will allow us to expand our program in many ways such as:

  • make the program more accessible by eliminating the registration fee
  • hire additional staff so that we can increase registration numbers while keeping the staff to participant ratio low
  • take the girls on more experiential learning trips that would expose them to areas and outlets in Toronto they otherwise may not have been exposed to
  • hire guest speakers or workshop leaders to teach the girls new life and social skills
  • expand the program's healthy cooking component to include more teaching and practise

Donation impact

With financial support, Defy Your Label will be able to enrich its programming content and expand its reach to include more young girls as they strive to carve out an identity on their own terms while battling peer pressure and media influence.


Heather Douglas
Manager, Community Relations and Resource Development
416.439.9009 x221
Charitable Number: 119259885RR0001

Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 12,451,410


Join the Conversation