Toronto District School Board

Skip to Main
Toronto District School Board

Requesting Increased and Sustainable Funding for Student Safety in Neighbourhood Improvement Areas for the 2024-2025 Budget and Beyond

Categories: Advocacy

March 15, 2024 


Dear Minister Lecce, 

On behalf of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), I am writing to request your immediate attention regarding the Enhanced Student Safety Funding Grant, allocated through the 2023-2024 Priorities and Partnerships Fund. This essential funding is set to expire at the end of this month, in March 2024. 

Our board appreciates the Ministry of Education's commitment to student safety, evidenced by the allocation of $1.8 million for violence prevention initiatives in the 2023-2024 budget. This fund has been used to support partnerships between community organizations and schools in neighbourhood improvement areas.  

On your recent visit to David and Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute on March 2, you were able to witness this funding in action. As you saw, these partnership opportunities allow us to provide a multi-pronged approach to proactive violence prevention, serving students from middle school through high school. As cohorts move through the varied programs, the resources provided enable our students to develop and achieve a wide variety of skills, forming crucial lifelines for students to navigate the world around them. We are witnessing firsthand the impact of proactive violence prevention work on our students' well-being, academic achievement, and success. And yet, despite the progress made, the needs remain high. There is an ongoing demand for continued support and resources, not just to continue the current programming for new cohorts of students where programs currently run, but to also expand this groundbreaking work to other high priority areas. 

Since the Enhanced Student Safety Grant is set to expire at the end of this month, we are currently faced with the risk of discontinuing these essential and life-altering programs. As you can surely imagine, the absence of emergency funding in this regard poses a threat to the safety and welfare of our students, particularly those in vulnerable communities. 

I urge you to take immediate action to ensure these critical programs can continue by extending the Enhanced Student Safety Funding Grant beyond its current expiration date. And as we look towards next year, we are hopeful that, having seen these programs in action, and knowing the significant needs of high priority areas in a variety of areas of Toronto, you will recognize the need to increase the size of this grant to have broad impact on student outcomes, achievement and post-secondary opportunities. Finally, to ensure greater efficiency, the integration of this funding into the Grants for Student Needs (GSN) would be beneficial and provide stability and predictability for future programming. While many of these programs help current at-risk students, these efforts are also focused on proactive and preventative strategies designed to engage youth who will benefit from new experiences, mentorship, employment, and skill-building. By moving this funding within the GSNs, we can guarantee sustained support for violence prevention initiatives, form long-term relationships with community and business organizations and other essential student safety programs into the future, ensuring we truly create long-term, lasting effects through this investment. 

As you look toward budget season and reflect on the visit to David and Mary Thomson, I urge you to consider the value of youth employment all year round. We believe there are many community partners, who, with the government’s leadership, would be eager to invest in the future of youth in our city and beyond. As we saw first-hand on March 2, so many students in high priority neighbourhoods are desperately seeking employment on evenings and weekends. The Focus on Youth funding has been put to great use over the years and makes such a significant difference for students in the summer, providing them experience, skills and much-needed income. Expanding this program all year round would be a game-changer for students and their families. Access to employment not only benefits families, but it is a proven method to keep students in school rather than leaving school for precarious employment. It would also create efficiencies for our board, which currently must go through yearly start-up processes to align with partial-year funding. It strikes me that we could become more efficient AND serve students more effectively through a year-round approach to student employment, something that would undoubtedly also work as a violence prevention measure and advance the achievement of the goals in your Student Achievement Plan, particularly in high priority neighbourhoods.  

As always, the TDSB is committed to working with the Ministry of Education to prioritize student safety, well-being, and student achievement – inside and outside the classroom. We believe in the potential of all our students to become thriving adults who find personal fulfillment and contribute positively to all aspects of society.  

Thank you for your consideration of our detailed request and feedback. Should you wish to discuss these issues in more detail, I am happy to make myself available. I look forward to your response. 



Rachel Chernos Lin 
Chair, Toronto District School Board