Community Knowledge Centre - Toronto Community Foundation

Centre for Spanish Speaking People

Pablo Vivanco, Program and Services Director
416 533 8545 ext 132
Charitable number: 118847144RR0001
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One of the teams in the Inter-community Futbol League
One of the teams in the Inter-community Futbol League
Jose Calderon of the Toronto Raptors with a donation to our youth program
With Councillor Krysten Wong-Tam at our Latin LGBT Arts Festival

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About this organization


The Centre for Spanish-Speaking Peoples is a non-profit, charitable organization serving new immigrants from 22 Spanish-speaking countries as well as members of other communities.

Since 1973, we have been serving the needs of these groups by offering a variety of services designed to overcome barriers based on language, race, age, sex and sexual orientation among others.  The Centre promotes equality and social justice through community development and participation in and representation of the whole community.  Being situated strategically in between various high needs neighbourhoods, we are effectively able to serve many people from diverse backgrounds and with a multitude of needs.

History of Organization

In the aftermath of the coup d'etat in Chile in 1973, hundreds of Chileans began applying for refugee status in various countries including Canada. Concerned community members including women of Spanish descent reponded to aid these incoming refugees by forming the Centre for Spanish Speaking People (CSSP). Since its incorporation in 1974, the CSSP has become a recognized institution among Latin Americans and other Spanish Speakers in Toronto. Throughout its 37 year history the Centre has experimented with various services and projects to compliment its core programs and has also shifted its operations from its first location at Bloor and Bathurst. The Centre now operates two Centres, one at 40 Wellesley that houses our HIV/AIDS Prevention Program and our main offices at 2141 Jane St.

Accolades and Accomplishments

The Centre, its programs and staff have received numerous recognitions from funders and various levels of government throughout our decades of work with the spanish speaking community.

The 'El Centro' project and the Hispanic Youth Alive program were specifically recognized with an Award for Excellence by Mayor David Miller and Argos Foundation President Mike Clemons for creativity and leadership in youth engagement.

Recently, programs like our Mano en Mano HIV Intervention projects were recognized for their innovative approach and have been implemented in similar programs in Chile and Colombia.


>Inter-Community Futbol League

The Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples provides a number of free services to the community. Our Legal Clinic provides legal advice and representation in a number of areas including social assistance, tenancy issues, employment standards, human rights, immigration and other areas of law related to poverty.

The settlement program helps newcomers settle into their lives in the Greater Toronto Area and vicinity by providing a range of free services aimed at supporting them to live independently and develop a sense of belonging within our Canadian Community.

The Volunteer Program allows volunteers to assist our programs to meet their goals, gain work experience within Canada and engage and connect with the community. Most of our Volunteers are Newcomers to Canada and are seeking to gain Canadian work experience.

CSSP’s Youth Program “El Centro” has organized a slew of youth initiatives that have been completely youth-led including art based after school programming for youth between the ages of 12 to 15 and 16 to 24 years old.

The Women’s Program’s offers counselors that provide individual counseling, facilitate support groups for abused women, conducting support-therapeutic groups, including art, stress management throughout relaxation and visualization as recovering tools. In addition we assist women in finding secure housing.

The CSSP also runs an HIV/ AIDS Prevention Program where we provide professional counseling and psychological services to the community, specifically for people who are infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS. Additionally, we distribute condoms with informative educational material in places that are frequented by MSM’s.

Inter-Community Futbol League

While there is an abundance of soccer leagues in the City, many of these are out of reach for low-income families. Often soccer leagues can cost up to $100 for 1 youth in the summer and upwards of $400 for 1 youth in the winter. At the same time, there is a lack of opportunities for talented youth to develop their leadership and skills in training and mentoring younger youth while at the same time securing opportunities for themselves to gain some income.

Beyond simply providing free recreational opportunities for youth, the idea behind the project is to also provide opportunities to build youth leadership and skills training with certification for youth also. In addition, by also reaching out to local businesses and unions support the project, this will also be a community development experience bridging ethnic and geographic communities.

The leagues will involve up to 6 teams in the under 19 category and up to 6 teams in the under 15 category over two season (Winter 2011-2012, Spring-Summer 2012). With an average of 14 youth/ team, this will translate into a maximum of 168 youth participants in the program. With practices and games, this will translate into a minimum of 42 hours of recreation/ participant per season.

In addition to providing free recreational options for youth and their families, the project will also look to provide skills training (conflict mediation, coaching and refereeing certification) for older youth mentors. Up to 12 youth will be selected to coach 1 team. For the under 19 category, youth under the age of 24 will be selected while youth from the under 19 category will be selected to coach in the under 15 group. In addition to coach training and certification, these youth will receive conflict mediation training and will be registered to receive referee training and certification. These certifications will be valuable resume-building experiences for the youth and will provide immediate possibilities for them to earn income in this league as well as in other leagues.

Funding and Program Partners

The Inter-Community Futbol League project is a joint effort between the Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples, the Jane and Finch Community Family Centre, For Youth Initiative and various community partners to provide a free soccer program for youth in the North West Quadrant of the City of Toronto (including neighbourhoods of Jane and Finch, Wilson and Jane, Finch and Weston, Lawrence Heights, Weston- Mt.Denis, Jamestown). This project expands on the free soccer programs undertaken by the Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples, Jane and Finch Community Family Centre, For Youth Initiative (FYI) and Barrio Nuevo.

Our community partners – community businesses, organizations and unions - will be approached in order to sponsor at least one team with complete uniforms. The sponsor will be recognized on the jersey of each team as well as on any promotional materials for the program. Additional funds have been solicited from other funding sources as well.

In 2012, we were able to confirm another major community partners - Wonder Cares and their Healthy Active Kids program - who have generously supported the league so that we can ensure another full winter and summer session.  In addition, we have crated a partnership with the Toronto Service Soccer League who has been providing referee training for our youth, as well as hiring them to referee in their league.

Lastly, the coaching component of the program has been accepted as an official IGNITE program of TO2015 who are also assisting us with coaching partnerships.

Program Impact

This program benefits low-income youth and families by providing access to a free, quality soccer program that is competitive and not ethnically or regionally specific. Additionally, the youth participants have gained conflict mediation skills as passed on to them by their youth coach.

The youth coaches have gained experience, skills and certification in refereeing as well as the opportunity for them to work in the Toronto Services Soccer League to gain an income in addition to working in other leagues or facilities.

The community has gained by having youth from across ethnicities and areas come together in a program that offers safe and free recreation which also prescribes building youth leadership capacity through the training and certification offered.

Toronto's Vital Signs® Issue Area(s) addressed by Program

>Health and Wellness
>Leadership, Civic Engagement, and Belonging

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"Only 14% of children and youth meet appropriate physical education levels". 

(Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2010)

Our program will address this specific need for accessible recreation activity but will also go further to develop youth leadership, provide employment and life skills as well as build community.

Giving Opportunity

Activities a donation will support

The amount received will cover costs for the following:

• 1 staff to coordinate and convene the league

• Coach Training Clinics

• Registrations for Coaches

• Referee Training

• Coaching/ training equipment

• Referee fees

• Program Documentation

In total, this will translate into 53 games per division (106 games in total), or 9810 minutes of games plus 360 hours of practice time over the course of the program. There will be up to 84 youth per division per season and up to 336 youth in total throughout the project.

Donation impact

With $100 dollars in financial support, we are able to supply uniforms for 1 Winter League team.  With $200, we are able to supply uniforms to a full Summer season team.  With $1000, we are able to ensure refereeing in all of our games by providing small honorariums for our trained referees.  All donations support a youth run soccer league that looks to create accessible recreation options for youth.

Success Stories