Toronto Immigration Charities

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Toronto Immigration Charities


The city of Toronto has an impressive array of 63 charity or non-profit organizations that supply immigration aid-related services to the community. Five organizations that stood out, in terms of their executive leadership's strong backgrounds, were North York Community House, Access Alliance, COSTI Immigration Services, University Settlement, and the Community for Immigrant and Community Services (CICS).


Charity #1: North York Community House

  • North York Community House (NYCH) was founded in 1990 to support the diverse community of Toronto with a variety of services.
  • The organization is relatively small, with 84 full-time staff members.
  • In 2018, 97% of the total expenditures ($1,570,480) for NYCH went towards programs.
  • NYCH spends over half (52%) of its program budget on immigration aid.
  • This equates to $792,150.11 spent on immigration aid programming in 2018.
  • NYCH has made a significant impact among the more than 20,000 northwest Toronto newcomers (immigrants and refugees) that receive their services each year.
  • NYCH provides immigrants and refugees with settlement services including one-on-one support with employment assistance, housing support, immigration and sponsorship forms, and health care.
  • 13,377 newcomers to Toronto access NYCH's settlement services each year.
  • The organization is run by a board of directors with strong industry experience, including its President, Nina Chandara.
  • Nina Chandara is a valuable asset, with an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business, management and consulting experience, and expertise in managing multi-million dollar businesses.

Charity #2: Access Alliance

  • Founded in 1989, Access Alliance works to promote access to supportive services and health care for immigrants and refugees in the Toronto area through addressing Health, Social, Economic, and Environmental issues.
  • Has a team of 124 full-time staff.
  • The Board of Directors for Access Alliance is highly qualified, bringing decades of experience in policy research and development, building organizational capacity, and nonprofit work experience.
  • Settlement service providers for Access Alliance help orient immigrants and refugees to the Canadian healthcare system, rights and entitlement education, assistance with completing forms and applications, program and service referrals, and advocacy to support during the migration process.
  • In 2018, Access Alliance spent $12,164,388 on all services.
  • The major sources of gross expenditure were personnel expenses (52.6%) and service delivery (30.4%).
  • The impact that Access Alliance has had on the Toronto immigrant and refugee community has been overwhelmingly positive, with 97.6% of recipients reporting overall satisfaction with services received.
  • Majority of respondents (90.9%) felt that Access Alliance made a positive impact on their community.

Charity #3: COSTI Immigrant Services (COSTI)

  • Since 1952, COSTI provides educational, employment, and social services to recent immigrants of Toronto.
  • COSTI employs 264 full-time staff to support delivery of settlement services.
  • Across the globe, COSTI serves a total of 39,000 individuals in accessing supportive services on an annual basis.
  • In the past year, over 10,000 immigrants received settlement services such as supportive counseling, referral and information assistance, and support in translating and completing government forms.
  • COSTI is governed by a board of directors, including Leo Sdao, Vice President of the Development Council, who also acts as President of Optimal Assessments and Consulting Inc. and has served in a number of senior positions across "financial management, sales, management consulting and general management".
  • In 2018, 90% of COSTI's $30,220,737 expenditures went towards programs.
  • Within the 2018 program spending ($27,198,663.30), 44% of the expenditures were for immigration aid.
  • The impact on the community by COSTI appears to be substantial, supporting more than 2,000 individuals with finding employment in 2018.
  • Further, in 2017-2018 COSTI supported 3,432 families and individuals in securing housing in Toronto.

Charity #4: University Settlement

  • University Settlement was established in 1910 as the first community-based social service center in Toronto.
  • It provides a range of social, cultural, educational, and recreational services to the community, including a settlement and social services program.
  • The organization's President, Maureen Gans, has an impressive background of serving as a Director for a number of community health organizations and previously served as Manager to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario for 11 years.
  • Executive Director, Patricia Jacobs, also brings a strong background of over 30 years of experience in social services and having served as Executive Director of Mooreland Community Services for 15 years.
  • The Newcomer Settlement program (NSP) is available for all newcomers to Canada including "citizens, landed immigrants, convention refugees, refugee claimants and visitors".
  • In fact, 35% of the $5,202,233 spent by the organization in 2018 went towards immigration aid services.
  • Services offered as part of the NSP include settlement counseling, form filling and interpretation, educational workshops, and social support groups.
  • In 2018, the University Settlement's NSP held 2,150 one-on-one counseling sessions with newcomers.
  • As reported in the 2018 Annual Report, a student success story demonstrated the effectiveness of the Language Instruction for Newcomers (LINC) course as part of the NSP: a graduate student originally from South Korea gained the confidence she needed to receive a Personal Support Worker (PSW) certificate and go on to work at a Korean long-term facility on the weekends.

Charity #5: Center for Immigrant and Community Services (CICS)

  • CICS was founded in 1968 to provide to "provide information, interpretation and translation services to the Chinese residents" in downtown Toronto.
  • It now offers a variety of supportive services to the community, including settlement services.
  • Specific settlement services offered in at least 9 languages to Toronto newcomers, immigrants, citizens, and refugees include employment and labor assistance, orientation to the local environment, linkages with the community and resources, interpretation and translation, and group activities for social/networking support.
  • Employs 109 full-time staff.
  • 99% of the $9,735,731 budget in 2018 went towards programs.
  • Of the 2018 program expenditures ($9,638,373.69), 29% went towards immigrant aid.
  • Led by Executive Director, Moy Wong-Tam, who previously served as Executive Director of an immigrant settlement organization in Ottawa.
  • In 2018, 1,100 students received the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program with over 30 classes offered.
  • This program was positively received by students, with one student remarking: "I appreciate the LINC classes very much because they help me improve my English and learn about Canadian life".

Research Strategy

An initial search of immigrant aid charities in Toronto yielded several online repositories that compile metrics relating to charity organizations in Canada. CHIMP was used to identify an initial list of 63 organizations relating to 'Immigrant Aid' in the Toronto area. From there, organizations' websites were accessed to gather information regarding their Board of Directors to determine whether any or all of the members have strong backgrounds (e.g., former executive at a successful firm, student at a top school) as requested by the client. If personnel profiles were not listed in the 'About Us' section of the official website, additional searches on professional networks (e.g., LinkedIn) were conducted to supply missing information. Dollars represented above are Canadian Dollars (CAD), not U.S. Dollars (USD).

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  • "In 1990, North York Community House (‘NYCH’) came into existence as a result of a sizable donation from an anonymous benefactor"
  • "NYCH supports newcomers with their settlement in many ways - to learn and practice English, navigate complex systems such as health care, education and immigration, find housing - all important steps to feel at home in a new country."
  • "She brings a diverse skill set, with an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business and experience in the private and public sectors in management consulting, teaching accounting and finance, and managing multi-million dollar businesses"
  • "20,000+ residents in northwest Toronto are served by our organization every year"
  • "13,377 newcomers were supported in their transition to life in Canada through our settlement services"
  • "362 newcomers studied English in our LINC classes, with over 117 increasing one or more Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLBs)"
  • "424 newcomers gained skills and knowledge to start their job search in our Employment program, with 72% of participants finding a job in their preferred field"
  • "He currently works at the Wellesley Institute as a Researcher, in addition to working on projects outside of work, including a pan-Canadian research study on health outcomes for Syrian refugees in Canada"
  • " He has established a partnership with the Community of Support Initiative at the University of Toronto, with the goal of increasing the number of students that are Indigenous, Black, or economically disadvantaged in medical schools"
  • "Priyanka has more than 8 years of experience in successfully leading policy research, program development and delivering projects in several regions including Europe, North America, Middle East and South Asia. "
  • "With 10+ years experience in higher education leadership she has adopted a collaborative and inclusive leadership style and is committed to building organizational capacity through quality management, continuous improvement and innovative service delivery."
  • "Jasmine is a public policy and communications specialist with 11 years of nonprofit sector experience spanning Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto. "
  • "97.6% Overall satisfaction with Care and Services"
  • "90.9% Felt a positive impact on their community"
  • "Total 2018 Expenditures $12,164,388"
  • "Out of a concern for the needs of recent immigrants in Toronto, COSTI (then the Italian Immigrant Aid Society) was founded in 1952."
  • "Over 10,000 immigrants received assistance with their settlement and adjustment through supportive counselling, information and referral, interpretation and assistance in the completion of government forms"
  • "Leo is President of Optimal Assessments and Consulting Inc., a Toronto-based organization that provides performance assessment tools, certification and consulting services to corporations, human resource consultants, executive search firms and executive coaches"
  • ""
  • "Then I worked for the United Way of Greater Toronto as an Allocation Associate. Then I became Executive Director of an immigrant settlement organization in Ottawa."