In the late 1970s, the former city of York went through a major economic restructuring, with a significant loss of industry, including the closure of many large manufacturers, resulting in thousands of lost jobs.
The economic change was felt throughout the community. Incomes fell and rental rates dropped. With the employment loss, the city became concerned that it needed to enhance social services, education and employment services.
In 1978, with a small, one-time grant, a group of community members formed a charitable organization which incorporated itself as The Learning Enrichment Foundation. LEF began by offering multicultural theatre for children, but quickly diversified its services to offer skills training and youth counseling. By the early 1980s, LEF had opened child care centres, launched employment services and expanded our skills training opportunities.
We are dedicated to the former city of York, where we have been delivering these quality, integrated services. This is an area with remarkable community spirit and diversity, but with the difficult challenges that come with having the highest level of poverty in the Greater Toronto Area and being one of the poorest communities in Ontario.
Since our beginning, we have continually expanded our services to meet the needs of our community. We are now among the largest such organization serving the former city of York. We could not have reached this place without the guidance of our founding executive director Eunice Grayson and the vision of Donald C. MacDonald. Both shared a keen entrepreneurial spirit and deep belief that anything was possible. These passionate, understanding and determined leaders were the heart of LEF. Their legacy and leadership continue to guide our path.
Today, LEF’s programs, services and resources position us as a hub for community economic development and social enterprise, serving many thousands of families every year.