Every day we wake up energized by the work that we do. We challenge ourselves, push our own limits, and strive to realize our individual and collective potential. Driven by our mission, we are consistently striving to better serve our students and communities.

Thank you to our:

2020 Board of Directors

Tarik Muzaffar, Chair
Kristal Au-Yong, Vice-Chair
Christopher Davenport, Secretary
John Landry, Treasurer
Mark Baker, Director
Lambert Morvan, Director
Zlata Huddleston, Director
James Rausch, Director
Jannine Krish, Director
Richard Valade, Director
Annie Appleby, Director
Lesa Williams-George, Director

2020 Staff Team

Jennifer Wilson, President & CEO
Lisa Norton, National Program Manager
Aniska Ali, VP Strategic Partnerships & Impact
Lori Collinge, Executive Assistant & Office Manager
Mackenzy Willis, Regional Lead GTA
Glenn Marais, Remote Programs Lead
Heather Prost, Regional Lead Western Canada
Monte Neufeld, Facilitator, GTA
Emilie De Caen, Program Facilitator GTA
Alejandro Lazzari, Program Co-Facilitator Western Canada
Sarah Thompson, Program Co-Facilitator Western Canada
Lavinia Butuza, Substitute Facilitator, GTA
Jordan Donovan, Substitute Facilitator, GTA
Maya Gonzalez-Fuentes, Substitute Facilitator, GTA
Shahla Lafeer, Substitute Facilitator, GTA

2020 Artist Educators

Tobi Asmoucha
Alyssa Harms-Wiebe
Gloria Hope
Making A Mends
Matthew Morales
Kevin Ormsby
Mimi O’Bonsawin
Lee Pham
Darla Rasmussen (Blackkettle)
Luke Reece
Jamie Robinson
Lisa Rosati
Ricky Schaede
Robyn Sidhu
Sarah Svendsen
Joaquin Varela
Iris Benedikt
Joelle Crigger
Meghan Fulton

A huge thank you to all of our volunteers and former team members!

from our President & CEO

If I were to sum up this year for our organization with one word, I would use the word proud. I am proud to be part of a collective of people with such a strongly shared mission to support young people to thrive. I am proud to see the young people we work with rise up beyond the challenges they unfairly face. I am proud of our stakeholders who tirelessly stand with us in our shared commitment to children and youth. I am proud that in the face of a global pandemic, DAREarts saw its most successful year on record in its 24-year history. I am proud that because of this success, we can serve more young people than ever before. And I am proud to see our DAREarts team working hard every day in the face of so many changes and organizational pivots, taking on the added stresses knowing that what we do now; how we react, how we innovate, how we listen, has a significant impact on the lives of the young people we serve.

When the pandemic closed schools and community programs, we knew we would have to act fast to ensure children and families had the support they needed to make it through this difficult time. We asked ourselves a simple question – how could we be most useful? We assessed the landscape and looked for gaps in service that we could fill. Quickly we developed a continuity of service plan that focused on one key goal – to ensure children and families had the tools, support and space to take care of their mental wellness. This clear goal became our North Star during this crisis. We developed new program delivery models and tools to reach as many young people as possible in ways that reflected their unique needs and circumstances.

Our champions were right there with us – powering new programs with their time, trust, and investment in our work.

One of those initiatives is our DAREarts Creativity Kits. Designed specifically for children and families without reliable internet access and facing extreme economic barriers, each kit contains carefully curated arts-based activities and supplies to provide all young people with the chance to care for their mental wellness and connect with themselves and the world around them during a time of crisis and isolation.

While seemingly simple, creating and deploying these kits at the quality and scale we needed proved a daunting challenge. We had no shared storage space, we couldn’t gather together safely, and supplies were costly and difficult to find in bulk.

It was time to get scrappy, roll up our sleeves, and creatively solve problems, just like we encourage our students to do every day.

Our National Program Manager, Lisa Norton, converted her garage into a creativity kit packing facility, signing onto our daily Zoom meetings from her garage as she received thousands of art supplies on large commercial skids delivered to the driveway of her home. In order to carefully package the kits that would eventually land in the hands of families across Canada, she enlisted the help of her partner, and together, they packed over 500 kits for our initial dissemination.

Our kits were being shared through community service agencies in the GTA and beyond when we received a request from a school on Manitoulin Island. They had a significant need for the kits, but the shipping up north was cost-prohibitive for us as an organization.

The team got together and considered how we could get 210 kits delivered to Manitoulin Island. We were determined. We realized that if someone could drive them up, the cost of a trailer rental and gas would be minuscule compared to the prohibitive shipping cost. Despite the prospect of a 2-hour trip to pick up and pack the kits from Lisa’s, followed by a 7-hour drive to Manitoulin Island (the long way around due to a COVID ferry closure), only two words came to my mind…road trip!!

At DAREarts, we work together as a team. We stretch and adapt and work to be our most effective and useful selves at any given moment. Whether that’s a CEO turned delivery driver or a Program Manager turned warehouse tech, we do what needs doing to create the impact that we want to see in the world.

The drive to Manitoulin provided me with pause and time to reflect on our work, on our commitment, and on why it matters. When I arrived, I was greeted by the friendly faces of the Pontiac School in Wikwemikong. As we unpacked the trailer full of creativity kits and stacked them in rows upon rows, 8 feet high, the teacher shared with me how grateful she was for these kits. I heard first-hand (and now you can too) what the kits would do for the young people in her community.

I hope that you, our DAREarts community, our parents, students, funders, stakeholders, volunteers, employees, and artist educators, will take a moment to feel proud of each and every one of your individual contributions that have helped thousands of young people find creativity, courage, and connection when they need it most.

from our co-Chairs

When society faces times of hardship, the people and communities hardest hit are those already under-resourced; those facing systemic racism, chronic underfunding, and poverty. During COVID-19, the young people and their families that DAREarts serves have faced significant and amplified challenges. In an unprecedented time of crisis, we have seen our community rally around our efforts to continue to serve young people in Canada.

And what a year it has been…

We responded to COVID-19 and pivoted quickly, adapting our programs to meet the needs of the communities that we serve. We developed new partnerships, connected to the grassroots of the communities where we operate and came together to ensure that young people across Canada have what they need to thrive during this difficult time.

In addition to our COVID-19 response work, we completed our two-year operational plan that saw us through a full organizational restructuring, the development and implementation of new policies and practices, the execution of new development strategies, and the innovative re-design of many of our programs and services. We have improved transparency, enhanced operational efficiencies, and maintained a sharp focus on our work’s impact.

We directly served over 1,300 children and youth this year through our in-person and online programs.

We successfully launched a COVID-19 response initiative and disseminated DAREarts Creativity Kits to 475 families in need and ensured we could provide hundreds more throughout the next programming year.

Despite a global pandemic, we saw our most successful financial year on record. We raised a record-high of over $1,040,000, we cut our spending by over 10%, and we increased our impact. We reached more students than ever, and we reached them in new and meaningful ways. We could not be more grateful for you, our DAREarts community. Thank you for standing with us and believing in the potential of young people across Canada.