A number of downtown organizations are vying for grants through the Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) Team Up Fund to help ensure they provide local children and youth with the programming and training they need.
The MLSE Team Up fund has selected 20 organizations and is giving the public a chance to vote online to help determine four finalists. One of those four will take home a $50,000 grant.
The 20 groups in the running include the Cabbagetown Youth Centre, Dixon Hall, Pathways to Education, MJKO Boxing and the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre.
Dixon Hall Executive Director Kate Stark said her organization would use the funding for its Mentoring for Violence Prevention (MVP) Program, which will give children and youth in the Regent Park area a sports outlet to help steer them away from poor life choices.
“The MVP Program is one of our offerings out of our youth centre and it’s a way to support young people through the platform of sports,” she said. “Kids get to play, learn the value of teamwork and work with mentors to help build their self-esteem and leadership skills.”
The mentors themselves are peer leaders from within the Regent Park area, and they will teach younger kids the value of healthy play.
The Cabbagetown Youth Centre (CYC), meanwhile, is looking to open up rep basketball programming for youngsters in the downtown east area. While the CYC offers basketball programs, this will give talented and dedicated youngsters in the area access to better training and greater opportunities.
“We want to be able to provide young people a way to build their skills through house league and rep,” said Monique Lisi, CYC coordinator of fundraising and grants. “There’s a lot of talent in this community and it will be nice for them to have something to aspire to, whether it’s improving their skills or just going to other (communities) for tournaments.”
In addition to providing better coaching and covering the costs of rep programming for at-risk youth, the CYC’s program will also train youth for futures in refereeing and coaching.
Pathways to Education, which originated in Regent Park, is looking to improve access to sports programming for children across Ontario while offering mentoring opportunities.
MJKO Boxing, meanwhile, is seeking funding for a permanent training facility for youngsters in the Parkdale and Alexandra Park areas.
The Miles Nadal JCC is looking to provide free access to 217 at-risk children to its fee-based sports programming.
The online voting portion of the competition will run until 11:59 p.m. Friday, March 21. For a full list of MLSE Team Up Fund candidates or to vote for a community organization, visit www.mlseteamupfund.org