COVID-19 Forces Shift in Focus for Centre of Opportunities for Regent Park Enterprises

Thursday,  August 13th,  2020

(Toronto, ON) – COVID-19 has led many charitable and community organizations to re-evaluate their projects, commitments and programming.  The pandemic has challenged the sector, but it’s also demonstrating how resilient it truly is.

Two years ago, the Centre of Learning & Development (CL&D) launched an exciting new initiative – the Centre of Opportunities for Regent Park Enterprises (CORE).  Its vision was to create a social incubation hub that would drive community enterprise development and serve as a teaching and learning space for our own social enterprises – Regent Park Catering Collective and Regent Park Sewing Collective.  We launched a capital campaign in 2018 with a move-in target date of early 2021.

In light of the new realities we face due to COVID-19, our Board of Directors and senior staff, supported by a consulting team from the Rotman School of Business, conducted a comprehensive review of the CORE’s proposed business operations in June. From that review, we were able to see that taking on an additional 2,067 sq. Ft. of physical space on the second floor of the Daniels Corporation DuEast condo development is no longer financially sound due to the economic uncertainty created by the pandemic.  As a result, the Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to cease all capital fundraising towards constructing our own physical space for the CORE.

“Although we are disappointed to no longer be building our own physical space, our review certainly reinforced our views about the positive impact of the CORE.  The study also highlighted the positive impact of our social enterprises on the lives of residents of Regent Park and surrounding neighbourhoods,” said CL&D ‘s Executive Director, Alfred Jean-Baptiste.

“The Daniels Corporation has been a leading partner throughout the development of this wonderful project, and we thank them for their support and understanding as we navigate the future.  They have and will continue to be vital to the success of the revitalization of Regent Park,” Jean-Baptiste said.

Although the capital campaign has ceased, the Centre of Learning & Development is committed to creating new opportunities for social enterprises through the CORE. We are excited about the conversations we’re having about collaboration with other organizations in the neighbourhood. They, too, are having to reconfigure their businesses, community spaces, and programming for a COVID-19 world. We are exploring new ways to partner with them, help them to implement the workforce development and employment opportunities that were central to our idea for the CORE.

We look forward to implementing new ideas, forging new partnerships, enhancing our virtual program delivery model, and building capacity for a healthier today and a stronger tomorrow.

About Centre of Learning & Development

The Centre of Learning & Development (CL&D) builds community, one person at a time, through community development and social inclusion. As a registered charity, CL&D equips low-income individuals with tools and skills for personal growth and empowerment to promote positive change in their community. We deliver programs and activities focussed on women immigrant integration, income security, adult literacy, leadership development, civic engagement, social enterprise development, and other skills that foster personal growth and independence.

About Centre of Opportunities for Regent Park Enterprises (CORE)

The CORE is an initiative of CL&D that currently operates two social enterprises – Regent Park Catering Collective and Regent Park Sewing Collective. The objectives of the CORE and its collaborative partnerships aim to:

  • Support people to develop skills in food and hospitality, textile design, and other industries — skills to enable them to find meaningful work.
  • Provide education and training in both virtual and physical distancing settings.
  • Facilitate new partnerships to support people facing barriers such as poverty and marginalization.

For more information, contact:

Nicole Beatty
CORE Advisor
Centre of Learning & Development
T: (289) 251–3171