Our Impact Why We Exist
Celebrating over 75 years of success, WoodGreen helps
- people find safe, affordable housing,
- single moms get supports they need to move off social assistance,
- homeless and marginalized people get off the streets,
- youth find meaningful employment and training.
- seniors live independently,
- internationally-trained professionals enter the job market,
- parents access childcare,
- children and youth access after-school programs, and
- newcomers settle in to Canadian life.
A founding United Way of Toronto member agency, WoodGreen Community Services is one of the largest social service agencies in Toronto. WoodGreen spans 36 locations and serves 37,000 people each year.
Our Story What We Do
WoodGreen has a proud history of creating opportunity in Toronto
- WoodGreen voluntarily integrated with Community Care East York to provide enhanced services for seniors. (2012)
- A first in North America, First Step to Home transitions single men over 55 living and aging on the streets of Toronto into affordable supportive housing. (2009)
- A TCF Vital Youth Award winner, Rites of Passage is an Afro-centric program for youth that restores self-esteem, builds resiliency and creates community advocates (2007)
- The first of its kind in Canada, Homeward Bound is an award-winning 4-year program to get single mothers out of poverty, back to school and attain sustainable employment (2004)
- The Bruce WoodGreen Early Learning Centre pioneered the idea of a seamless day of school and childcare – which became full-day kindergarten (2002)
- Leader in housing for single adults (1980s)
- Began Chinese language services (1971)
- Founder of the program that became YES (Youth Employment Services) (1970s)
- One of the first child care centres in Ontario (1936)
And ... Proud partner with Toronto Foundation "Playing for Keeps" program
Accolades and accomplishments
Steve Vanderherberg, Vital People Award (2015)
- ONPHA Innovation Award
- Conference Board of Canada Community Learning Award
- CMHC Award of Excellence
- ONPHA Housing Excellence Award
Rites of Passage
- Toronto Foundation Vital Youth Award (Finalist)
Our Programs How We Do It
Piloted by WoodGreen in 2004 and unique in Canada, Homeward Bound is an award-winning, innovative program of wrap-around services to help single mothers and their children move from homelessness and poverty to successful careers and self-sufficiency. Homeward Bound provides single moms the opportunity to receive life skills, computer, financial literacy education, and then attend college at a fully-accredited institution. When they finish school, Homeward Bound arranges for 14-week professional internships and connects them with employers.
"WoodGreen's Homeward Bound changed everything. Here someone was telling me they would give me a subsidized two-bedroom apartment, access to top-of-the-line daycare my sone could attend and an opportunity to go back to school and get a good job. I did not have to be poor forever. I would be able to have the life I dreamed of - a normal life. That's all I wanted ... someone was giving me a chance."
Toroto Vital Signs® Report
- More than one in five families in the city of Toronto (21.3%) were headed by a lone parent in 2011 (compared to 17.8% across the Toronto Region)
- Poverty rates in the Toronto Region have dropped somewhat, in absolute terms since 1990, but have risen in relative terms:
- The equality gap is more than a measure of income disparity; it is about lack of access, lack of opportunity and lack of inclusion
WoodGreen’s First Step to Home is a new program model for helping homeless senior men, age 55 and older, make a successful transition from living on the street to a stable, healthy lifestyle. Developed by WoodGreen and launched in March 2010, First Step to Home combines safe and affordable housing with on-site health services and wrap-around support.
"Before I used to have no friends but now I have so many that I can't remember them all. So as you can see my life was completely turned around for the better because of WoodGreen. I can honestly say that I probably wouldn't be alive today if it hadn't been for WoodGreen."
Toronto Vital Signs® Report
- The Toronto Region still ranks as ‘severely’ unaffordable in a survey of 337 housing markets:
- 72,696 households were waiting for affordable housing at the end of 2012 – 3,354 more than in 2011
- Homeless people suffer far higher rates of chronic disease and premature death than those who are housed, and have more difficulty accessing health services. 126 people have died in Toronto’s shelters since 2007, 18 in 2012.
Rites of Passage gives opportunities to youth to build their skills, confidence, and resiliency through culturally-appropriate learning and recreational activities so they can go on to achieve their full economic and social potential.
Rites of Passage is an unique process that brings 20 young people between the ages of 14 to 18 of African descent into responsible adulthood every year will be expanding into 3 more neighborhoods in 2014.
“Rites of Passages helped me gain the confidence and faith to further my education. I’m hopeful about what life will look like for me in the future. I now volunteer with Rites of Passage as a York University student”
Toronto Vital Signs® Report
- In Toronto, almost 60% of low-income families are from racialized groups, although they account for just under half the population
- The equality gap is more than a measure of income disparity; it is about lack of access, lack of opportunity and lack of inclusion:
- In a 2013 UNICEFreport measuring the wellbeing of children in 29 of the world’s most affluent countries, Canada ranked 17th, and a dismal 24th when accounting for children’s own rating of their life satisfaction
- The stronger, more rigid boundaries that are forming between areas of Toronto on the basis of socio-economic status and ethno-cultural origin, are creating a calamitous “socio-spatial divide”
- Chronic underfunding is forcing the Toronto District School Board to divert funds away from supports for low-income students
What You Can Do
Homeward Bound Activities
A donation of
- $17,000 will underwrite a Homeward Bound family for one year
- $6,750 will pay for tuition and books for a Homeward Bound mom for one year
Internships and employment opportunities in the areas of business, law, or IT are also needed for the graduates of this program.
According to a report donated by the Boston Consulting Group, for every $1 invested in Homeward Bound, society get $4 in benefit as moms move from social assistance to family sustaining work.
First Step to Home Activities
A donation of
- $1,230 underwrite staff counsellors for one week
- $300 pays for a nutricious breakfast or lunch for 60-100 homeless adults
Food preparation and serving volunteers are particularly welcome for this program.
70% of seniors in this program sustain their housing leading to lower emergency room visits, reduced substance abuse, and reduced arrests due to public drunkeness.
Rites of Passage Activities
A donation of
- $2,500 supports one youth participant in Parma Court in Victoria Village to go through the Rites of Passage journey.
Your gift to Rites of Passage substantially increases the chance that a young person will graduate from high school, will not be involved with police, and will contribute to the community in a positive way.