Inner City Outreach (ICO) is officially given Canadian charitable status. Prior to its incorporation, ICO’s programs have been in existence since the early 1990s under the community arm of Christian Centre Church (CCC). Having a separate entity allowed ICO to enhance its impact on the community by strategically focusing on the pragmatic needs of the community. Several of Christian Centre Church’s existing programs were subsumed in this new corporation.
MAJOR STIMULUS FUNDING
ICO in partnership with Christian Centre Church receives a major Crime Prevention Grant. This funding allowed ICO to create its first homework club. Prior to the grant, programs operated in an informal, drop-in approach, but the grant allowed program staff to be hired and a structured afterschool program to be organized.
Further Funding allowed expansion
Funding from the provincial government stewarded by the African Canadian Christian Network (ACCN) and Canada’s Summer Jobs Initiative allowed ICO to:
1. Expand its programming to a structured basketball league located at Brookview Middle School (prior to funding, the program operated in the CCC gym).
2. Launch its first summer camp which provided fun, recreational activities for dozens of youth and created summer employment for 5 local youth counsellors.
Several youth involved in ICO programs were shot at within a span of a few days, resulting in one being fatally wounded. ICO’s involvement with the community was pivotal. Olu was called upon to be a community healing agent as he spoke with students, school administrators and other community leaders. In the wake of this difficult summer, ICO was invited to expand its program to the south of Finch. In October of that year, the afterschool program at Oakdale was birthed.
INTERNSHIP PROGRAM LAUNCH
A wave of university students began to move into the Jane and Finch community. Passionate for change, these students devote 6-12 months of their year to serve as full-time volunteers for ICO. The internship program greatly offset budget expenses while providing positive role models for the youth in the community.
RE-LAUNCHING OF ICO AND FURTHER EXPANSION
Inner City Outreach takes the strategic move to hire Olu Jegede as the executive director. Olu’s youth community development experience honed during the grassroots programming years of CCC were key factors for this decision. With Olu as the strategic leader of ICO, stakeholders felt that the programs would continue to grow in both breadth and depth to effect community change.
The Afterschool Homework Program also expands to the Africentric Alternative School.
ADVENTURE RECREATION IS BIRTHED
Scouts Canada partners with ICO to start a recreation program that would impact youth and younger children. The Scouts program also increased parental engagement and volunteerism through weekend activities and excursions. In the first year alone, a dozen youth traveled to outdoor Scout camping facilities, learned new skills such as knot tying and navigation while being led by positive mentors.
PARTNERSHIP WITH URBAN PROMISE TO INCREASE IMPACT
Urban Promise, a national leader working in inner city areas, partners with ICO. This partnership allows ICO to expand its programming to include Summer Camps and Youth leadership training for the Brookview Homework Program.