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Ontario Trillium Foundation Supports Free Music Education for Marginalized Youth

Over the last six months, music teachers with Sistema Toronto have been meeting the challenges of continuing free music education for over 300 marginalized youth by moving to an online class format. The four-day a week program enables young people to learn to play a stringed instrument in a fun, engaging atmosphere. And to ensure the students’ violins and cellos are maintained, over the past year, the group has used a $31,100 Capital grant that it received in 2019 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to make sure that instruments are maintained.

“With the Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, Sistema Toronto has been able to support children in our community during an incredibly tough year,” said Bhutila Karpoche, MPP for Parkdale-High Park. “By continuing to offer their programs through the pandemic, Sistema Toronto has made sure that students are able to continue to learn, grow and have comfort through music. I'm so proud of all the work the students and staff have done. I look forward to when we can all attend the next in-person concert!"

Thanks to the grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Sistema Toronto has been able to keep its equipment bank supplied with replacement strings, bows, rosin (wax for the strings) and music stands. Sistema offers community-based programs that give students a creative outlet.

When the schools closed in March, Sistema staff and teachers quickly transformed the music program, offering interactive group classes as well as individual online sessions. With the new school year beginning, Sistema Toronto continues to provide students with a lifeline to social interaction and access to their community. The program runs four days a week throughout the school year with three-hour music sessions for young people living in the Parkdale, Jane/Finch and East Scarborough communities. Free sessions give children the opportunity to hone their musical abilities in a fun, supportive group environment while also building key social skills such as problem solving, empathy and self-advocacy.

“We are grateful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for their ongoing support,” said Jordana de Bloeme, Director of Development at Sistema Toronto. “The past few months have been challenging and our teachers and staff have risen to the occasion, but it’s support like this that makes our program possible. Music can be a catalyst for growth and the program has definitely provided a sense of normalcy during a chaotic time. The Ontario Trillium Foundation’s commitment to the program will continue to provide opportunities for our youth to participate in our programming and become leaders in their communities even at this precarious time.”

About the Ontario Trillium Foundation: The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded more than $115 million to some 644 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario: https://otf.ca/

About Sistema Toronto: Social Change Through Music Education: Sistema Toronto provides musical and intellectual opportunities to children in vulnerable communities, with the goal of transformative social change. We build stronger communities by enabling children to overcome poverty, grow and thrive as engaged citizens and future leaders. Sistema Toronto is first and foremost a social development program, using ensemble-based music education to transform the lives of children. Sistema Toronto students work together for 10 hours of weekly instruction. They learn strings (violin, viola, cello, or double bass), percussion, choir and Music & Movement while developing important life skills like problem solving, empathy and self-advocacy.


For additional information, please contact:
Sarah Ferries, Marketing & Communications Manager
416-545-0200 | [email protected]