A big room with tables and chairs. Balloons hang on a string reaching for the ceiling.

The History of LEF

LEF's beginnings are rooted in the needs of the communities we have served since 1978. The 70s saw the former city of York go through major economic restructuring. Thousands of jobs were lost and members of the community needed enhanced social, educational, and employment services.
A big room with tables and chairs. Balloons hang on a string reaching for the ceiling.
Three adults standing at a table and one is holding a portrait of a group photo.

Our Roots

A group of community members led by Eunice Gray, LEFs founding Executive Director, stepped up and created the Learning Enrichment Foundation (LEF). With the added invaluable leadership of Donald C. MacDonald, LEF was created with a small, one time grant. It began by offering multicultural theatre for children, but quickly diversified its services to offer skills training and youth counseling. By the early 1980s, LEF recognized an opportunity to not just serve youth, but to build a path for these communities to experience greater economic development. With this shift in focus, LEF opened child care centres, launched employment services, and expanded its skills training opportunities.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

The spirit of the York community has been magical. Despite having the highest level of poverty in the Greater Toronto Area and being one of the poorest communities in Ontario, they found a way to latch onto the hope that LEF offered. So much of that hope has been built on the entrepreneurial mindset of Eunice Gray who pushed LEF to provide creative solutions for economic development throughout the communities they served. This mindset of doing regardless of feasibility remains core to how LEF functions and makes change, and how LEF empowers the members of these communities.

A group of men fixing up the walls a thee LEF building.
An old photo of an LEF childcare centre.
Group photo of the LEF community on a field of grass.
Outside photo of the LEF building.

LEF Today

Today, LEFs programs, services, and resources nourish the communities they continue to serve. They’ve prioritized economic development that benefits thousands of families every year. Now LEF is guided by the leadership of Peter Frampton, its current Executive Director, who has continued to follow the path of an undisturbed prioritization of community and a tenacious approach to empowering its members.