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The Azrieli Foundation donates $175,000 to Sistema Toronto following funding cut by Government of Ontario

The Azrieli Foundation donates $175,000 to Sistema Toronto following funding cut by Government of Ontario

The Azrieli Foundation announced this week that they will be supporting community development through music education by donating $175,000 to Sistema Toronto.

This donation helps close a large funding gap caused by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s decision to rescind the $500,000 in funding approved for Sistema Toronto in May 2018. The loss of funding came just three weeks before the start of the school year and accounted for over half of Sistema Toronto’s $900,000 annual budget.

Sistema Toronto is an after-school social development program that provides daily free music and social education to 275 at-risk children in neighbourhoods with some of Toronto’s highest child poverty rates – Parkdale, Jane-Finch, and East Scarborough.

Before the funding cut, Sistema Toronto accepted 50 new students across their three centres and the donation from the Azrieli Foundation will cover the cost of these students’ participation in the program for the 2018-19 academic year.

The loss of funding means that Sistema Toronto will support fewer families living in poverty, leaving dozens of at-risk kids without any means to change their futures. There are 60 students on the waiting list that now have little hope of joining the program this year. The funding cut also means that Sistema Toronto teachers started the school year with oversized classes and without much-needed teaching resources.

The Azrieli Foundation’s donation brings Sistema Toronto significantly closer to closing their funding gap. Following the funding cut, Sistema Toronto launched a campaign called Together, We Got This to raise awareness of the need for community programming and crucial funds that allow them to keep their commitment to at-risk kids and their families. The community raised over $30,000 in small-dollar donations and, with the Azrieli Foundation’s support, they’re nearly half-way to their goal.

Dr. Sharon Azrieli, Board Director, The Azrieli Foundation:

"We are delighted to support Sistema Toronto, which so meaningfully brings together two priorities of the Azrieli Foundation – music and education. We know that music doesn’t just warm the soul; it builds a mindset that equips students to meet their fullest intellectual, social and creative potential. We also know that music brings communities together in celebration and harmony. All of us at the Azrieli Foundation have been so impressed with how Sistema Toronto unites music, learning and community to achieve great things. We hope that our belief in them will encourage others to support their work, giving these children a brighter future full of music and prosperity!"

Christie Gray, Executive Director, Sistema Toronto:

“We are overwhelmed by the support the community has shown us over the past few weeks. We make a long-term commitment to support Sistema Toronto students and families and our team is working together to keep our promise. We are so grateful to the Azrieli Foundation for their donation and the positive message it sends to the communities we support. Programs like ours help at-risk kids stay away from violence, crime, and give them an opportunity to achieve their full potential. We believe in the importance in community programming and hope that others will come forward to join in our effort to bring about social change through music and social education.”