MLSE and MLSE Foundation celebrated the official unveiling of its groundbreaking youth-focused facility, MLSE LaunchPad on Thursday afternoon, with over 400 donors and guests in attendance. MLSE LaunchPad was first announced as MLSE Foundation’s latest investment into improving the lives of youth through sport in April 2015, when the charity revealed that in partnership with Toronto Community Housing and the City of Toronto, it would refurbish a 42,000 square foot long-vacant building at 259 Jarvis Street into a safe space for youth to play. Just under two years later, MLSE LaunchPad opened to the community with an opportunity for donors and media to explore the new facility and its features.
“The opening of MLSE LaunchPad is about transformation,” said Larry Tanenbaum, MLSE Chairman. “Of course it signals an impressive transformation of this space thanks to the support of so many partners on this project, but most importantly, the opportunity this facility offers to transform the lives of thousands of youth and better our community. It wouldn’t be possible without the vision and support of so many people including Toronto Community Housing, the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, and PCL Construction. We’re grateful for their assistance and excited for the impact MLSE LaunchPad will have on our community in the years to come.”
MLSE LaunchPad is the first facility of its kind in North America, specifically developed to deliver Sport For Development programming seven days a week, with a focus on four pillars: Health Body, Healthy Mind, Ready For School and Ready For Work. With the support of MLSE’s teams, MLSE LaunchPad will leverage sport, education and research to remove barriers and promote social change, providing youth from low-income households the opportunity to use sport to recognize and reach their full potential. MLSE LaunchPad includes a multipurpose gymnasium containing basketball, soccer and hockey spaces, classrooms, a commercial teaching kitchen and a climbing wall. The facility aims to offer programming to underserviced youth in Toronto between the ages of six and 29 that will result in increased physical literacy and activity, continued engagement in sport, healthy behavior, improved life skills, academic attainment, job readiness and higher employment rate.
“MLSE is very proud of its legacy in the community and believes that all kids should have access to sport and the ability to develop life skills through play,” said Michael Friisdahl, MLSE President and CEO. “Being a valuable community partner and contributing to the building of Toronto into a world-class city is one of MLSE’s top priorities and MLSE LaunchPad is an important part of that vision.”
“Through this unique and exciting partnership with MLSE, Toronto Community Housing is able to stretch our limited resources and ensure that our residents have access to programs and services that help them thrive,” said Greg Spearn, President and CEO (Interim) of Toronto Community Housing.
Once the intended site of a proposed but never realized community roller rink, MLSE LaunchPad received over $6 million in funding from various community and corporate partners to be fully refurbished and opened, including but not limited to the following top-tier donors: Bank of Montreal, Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities, the City of Toronto, MLSE, MLSE Foundation, PCL Construction, Toronto Community Housing, adidas, Rogers, Sun Life Financial, Aris Kaplanis and family, Hockey Canada Foundation, the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players Association, Robert Kerr Foundation, Scotiabank, Sprint Mechanical and Vijay Kanwar and family. In order to continue to create positive outcomes for underserviced youth in Toronto, MLSE LaunchPad will require an additional $2.5 million in funding annually to provide life-changing programming for the community.
“MLSE Foundation is proud to have served as a steward for the vision of this project and we look forward to being the leading contributor to the outcomes created at MLSE LaunchPad,” said Aris Kaplanis, Chair of MLSE Foundation’s Board. “Our Foundation, and my family, are invested in the success of this facility.”
Thursday afternoon’s event publicly unveiled MLSE LaunchPad to the community, donors and media and included a performance of O Canada by Dixon Hall Choir and speeches from MLSE Chairman, Larry Tanenbaum; MLSE’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Michael Friisdahl; MLSE Foundation’s Chair of the Board, Aris Kaplanis and MLSE LaunchPad’s Chair of the Board, Freda Colbourne. Speeches were followed by the facility’s ceremonial first hockey goal with Maple Leafs alumnus Shayne Corson, first basket with Toronto Raptors alumnus Jamaal Magloire and first soccer goal with Toronto FC alumnus Dwayne De Rosario in MLSE LaunchPad’s multipurpose gymnasium. The event concluded with self-guided tours of the facility for guests, with MLSE Foundation and MLSE LaunchPad staff on-hand to provide expert background information for each area.
“We have our set our sights towards being the catalyst for collaboration with other leading businesses and programming organizations across Toronto,” said Tanya Mruck, Executive Director, MLSE LaunchPad. “The opening of the facility is the first step, but the work is just the beginning.”
Since launching in 2009, MLSE Foundation has invested more than $30 million into the Toronto community, including the capital investment to create MLSE LaunchPad. Together with its community partners, they have positively impacted the lives of youth and their families through sports grants, programs and facility revitalizations. For photos and information about MLSE LaunchPad, please click here for the full press kit. For ongoing updates on MLSE LaunchPad, please visit mlselaunchpad.org.
About MLSE Foundation
MLSE Foundation believes all kids should have access to sport and the opportunity to develop lasting dreams on the playing field. With the support of MLSE’s teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC and the Toronto Marlies, the Foundation funds the refurbishment of local athletic facilities and programs that support kids through sport and recreation. For more information visit mlsefoundation.org or follow @MLSEFoundation.