A $1 million ‘front door’ for York in Jane-Finch

The TD Bank Financial Group is committing $1 million to provide a permanent York University satellite centre in the neighbouring Jane-Finch community.

The one-stop shop will offer a wide variety of community-university initiatives that have been developed over the years to enhance student learning and build stronger neighbourhoods, including tax preparation clinics, small business consulting, bridging programs for mature female students, free legal services, nursing aid, and counselling, tutoring and mentoring programs.

“The satellite centre will extend York’s reach into our surrounding communities and support York’s expanding experiential education initiatives which give students hands-on learning opportunities while building community capacity and a sense of civic responsibility,” said Rhonda Lenton, dean of the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies. “At the same time, the centre will provide an accessible location to facilitate joint research initiatives between York faculty and students, and community partners addressing mutual concerns.”

TD’s commitment toward the York satellite project is in honour of York’s upcoming 50th anniversary celebrations. The centre is intended to help acquaint neighbouring community members with the University, including high-school students and other individuals who may benefit from an easily accessible “front door” to York University.

“At TD, we are firmly committed to making a difference in our communities. We share York’s desire to provide a variety of services under one roof to the neighbouring community and have worked together closely for the last three years to transform that vision into reality. By building the satellite centre in the Jane-Finch community, York University will be able to share its people and resources with the community in the most direct and meaningful way and TD is very proud to be so closely involved in this project,” said Bill Hatanaka, chairman and CEO of TD Waterhouse and member of the York University Foundation Board of Directors.

The University will be looking for ways to build on partnerships that were developed in the pilot phase of the Leveraging our Strengths project, such as PEACH, a program that supports at-risk youth and their families, and the Black Creek West Community Building Capacity Project, a coalition of community groups, service providers, private enterprise and all levels of government committed to identifying community strengths and needs and mobilizing resources to improve services and local infrastructure. The 2005 City of Toronto-United Way task force has also identified the Black Creek community as one of nine priority neighbourhoods for investments in social services and infrastructure. In keeping with this priority it is hoped that the new centre will also promote links among York’s many community partners in the Jane-Finch area, and elsewhere, and encourage new community collaborations.

“As we approach our 50th anniversary, York is proud to be setting the modern standard for academic and research excellence with social impact in such an innovative manner,” said Paul Marcus, president and CEO of the York University Foundation. “TD Bank Financial Group is a long-standing supporter of the University. Its generous financial assistance and willingness to be an active participant will greatly assist York University in leveraging our strengths to enhance our involvement with our neighbouring communities.”

An executive director with expertise in experiential education and community-university initiatives will administer the satellite centre, with guidance from an advisory council comprised of local service providers and senior University members. The director will be charged with maximizing the use of the facility to accommodate as many York and community programs as possible. It is expected that someone coming into the centre for one program, such as tutoring, may discover and take advantage of other services, such as legal advice, university entrance information or community nursing.