Our House Transforms Lives | Impact Report 2019

Our major accomplishments

The young people we serve continue to be in desperate need of housing. We also know that they need caring relationships and access to health, education and employment programs to thrive over the long-term. Because of your generosity, we continue to address these vital needs. Here are some of our accomplishments:

Housed 15% more youth in the community by expanding our apartment program.

We opened the Avdell Home to respond to the immediate needs of survivors of sex trafficking.

We opened two new homes for youth facing barriers of discrimination related to race or sexual orientation.

Message from our leadership.
Executive Director, Mark Aston, opening a door for a young person.

Providing affordable housing

Lack of access to affordable housing keeps youth in the shelter system longer than needed. To address this, we continue to expand our housing options to reduce dependence on our crisis shelter. We now provide housing to over 700 youth through our various housing programs. Our goal is to help these young people successfully transition to independence in the community.


Board Chair, Kenneth Morell, walking down a street and chatting with several young people.

Meeting complex needs

Our youth face many complex challenges, and last year we sharpened our youth-centred approach in order to better meet their diverse, individual needs.

In addition to abuse, neglect and family breakdown, more youth are struggling with mental health challenges. In 2019, we saw a 35 per cent increase in youth seeking support for substance use and mental health issues.

These youth have experienced complex trauma, and once their basic needs are met, we engage them in a range of programming to begin their healing and build resiliency.

Chef instructing youth in a kitchen.

Opening the door to new opportunities

Last year, an occupational therapist joined our team of specialists, one of the first in Toronto’s shelter system. From life skills to art to education, our therapist delivered 44 per cent more workshops last year, resulting in a 40 per cent increase in life skills credits earned.

The number of jobs and job placements realized by youth last year increased 22 per cent. In addition, the federal government confirmed renewed funding of our highly successful culinary arts training program, Cooking for Life, until 2020.

Two young women sitting on the ground talking and laughing.

Stopping the cycle of homelessness

Covenant House led the implementation of Making the Shift’s national demonstration project called Family and Natural Supports over the past year. This program helps youth at risk of, or currently experiencing homelessness, to strengthen connections with family and/or extended networks of support with the intention of interrupting their experience with homelessness. This program reconnected 204 youth with their families, a 66 per cent increase over the year prior.

Young woman looking into the distance thoughtfully.

Increasing awareness of sex trafficking

Last December, we released the findings of a national study conducted with Ipsos regarding the attitudes and behaviours that could put girls at a greater risk of being lured into sex trafficking. We learned there is a critical window of time to educate teens about sex trafficking to take steps to protect themselves. Based on these insights, we are launching an awareness campaign across Ontario to educate teens about sex trafficking.

Two professionals standing on a terrace and smiling.

Addressing our current organizational needs and planning for the future

To ensure we maintain a strong foundation from which to deliver our strategic plan, we have reviewed our fundraising, administrative, technological and real estate capacities. In the coming year, we will initiate projects to systematically address these areas over the next five years.

Covenant House is known for its excellent delivery of programs and services, and we will work hard to support the continuation of this important work. Thank you for your ongoing support.

Photo and signature of Executive Director, Mark Aston, and Board Chair, Kenneth Morell.
Youth Stories

Sonia had always been interested in physical fitness, but there was no space in her life to pursue it.

Portrait of a young woman smiling.

After fleeing her native Nigeria when her sexual orientation was discovered, she made her way to Canada. When she reached Covenant House, she felt alone, stressed and anxious.

Despite the support of Covenant House staff and the independence of the CIBC Rights of Passage program, Sonia continued to battle stress and anxiety.

And then a program came into her life that helped set her on the path to health and wellness. Everton Scully, a Youth in Transition Worker with our Supported Lodging Program, invited her to participate in a weekly outdoor fitness bootcamp with other youth. She gave it a try and reignited a passion.

“Sonia was very committed to our training program. She rarely missed a session and gave it her all every time . . . By getting through the work-out, youth come away with a sense of confidence that they can get through anything,” said Everton.

The physical outlet has helped Sonia manage stress, overcome anxiety, sleep better and improve her self-esteem and confidence. She even participated in the Spartan Race and Rugged Maniac Race and has won three medals. The community of support she’s part of through the Covenant House fitness program has made her feel loved and cared for in a new way.

In March 2019, Sonia became the first young person at Covenant House to move into our new supported lodging program for youth who identify as LGBTQ2S+. She has a part-time job, takes ESL classes and dreams of becoming a nurse one day.

Along the way, she will continue her fitness journey. “I want to try yoga next. In yoga, people accept you for who you are.”

2018-2022 Strategic Plan | Fiscal 2018-2019 Results
Core values of strategic plan: youth-centred, leadership, collaboration and continuous improvement.

Housing and After-care

Goal: Expand housing and after-care services to meet the complex and diverse needs of our youth.

Health and Well-being

Goal: Improve the health and well-being of our youth.

Education and Employment

Goal: Expand educational and employment opportunities for our youth.

Prevention and Early Intervention

Goal: Expand our initiatives in homelessness and sex trafficking prevention and early intervention to better protect our youth.

Donor Profiles

Scotiabank is no stranger to supporting the community. As a generous donor to Covenant House for more than  30 years, they believe in helping young people regain their power.

Scotiabank staff Karen Soos, Director of Philanthropy, Clinton Braganza, SVP, CMO and Covenant House Board Member, Austin Walker, ScotiaMcLeod Investment Associate, and Toni Ferrari, SVP, engaging with Covenant House youth.

“We are particularly committed to  helping young people in the community  reach their infinite potential, and we recognize what is possible when they have the guidance, confidence and tools to navigate the world ahead,”  said Karen Soos, Scotiabank’s Director of Philanthropy.

The company recently made a three-year funding commitment through their philanthropic focus on Young People in the Community. The funds will go towards our crisis shelter to provide safe shelter and access to food and health care services. It will also help build networks and enhance family connections.

In honour of this gift, we have named our intake area Scotiabank, Igniting Potential Together. With the help of Scotiabank, our youth have the support they need. But more than this,  they can gain strength knowing that there are people who believe in them.

In fact, there are large numbers who believe in our youth. Many Scotiabank employees get behind their support of  Covenant House, participating in the annual Sleep Out event, enrolling teams in the Guts + Glory obstacle challenge and making personal donations.

“We’re always proud to see a number of Scotiabankers volunteering their time to visit the agency and lend a hand,” said Soos. “Our ongoing partnership with Covenant House is representative of our trust and belief in the great work they do.”

Peter Gilgan Foundation
Wolfgang Klein
Delivering financial sustainability.

We ended the year in a much stronger financial position than planned with a $2.4-million surplus on a consolidated basis.  This was mostly the result of investment income representing almost half of the surplus and maintaining tight controls on our operational expenses.

Fundraising revenue remains strong while managing costs, government funding has increased by 2 per cent over the previous year and investment income has increased by 4 per cent. As a result, we were able to increase our support of our services and programs for youth by $2.78 million over last year.

We continue to re-invest our surplus to fund our strategic plan initiatives. This includes capital projects to upgrade our facilities, new housing options for youth, technology and systems improvements as well as ensuring our reserves include a maximum coverage of up to six months of our annual operating expenses to be used for emergency situations.


Sources of donations: $24.7 million.

  • 76% Individuals
  • 12% Events/Third Party
  • 9% Corporations/Foundations
  • 3% Catholic Charities

Expenses: $30 million.

  • 71% Youth Programs
  • 24% Fundraising, Development and Communications
  • 5% Management and Administration


Revenues: $32.4 million.

  • 76% Donations
  • 16% Government Funding
  • 6% Investment income and Other
  • 2% Amortization of Deferred Capital Contributions

Investment in mission/youth services: $21.4 million.

  • 44% Shelter and Crisis Care
  • 22% Community Support Services and Outreach
  • 21% Long-term Transitional Housing
  • 6% Public Education and Prevention Programs
  • 4% Health Care
  • 3% Research and Evaluation
Board and senior management.


Kenneth Morell
Senior Global Advisor
Dentons LLP


Diane Karnay

Wilson Vukelich LLP


Bruce Shewfelt
Managing Director
Clariti Strategic Advisors


Kevin Patterson
Group Head, Technology and Operations



David Armstrong
Onex Partners


Clinton Braganza
SVP and Chief Marketing Officer, 
Global Marketing

Pamela Bryant
Senior Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy
University of Toronto


Kevin Coon
Managing Partner
Baker & McKenzie LLP


Paula Courtney
Verde Group


Lynn Factor
Child Victim
Witness Support Program
Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre


Amanda Lang
Bloomberg North


Larry MacGirr
President & CEO
HealthHub Patient Engagement Solutions


Dan McGrath
Chief Operating Officer
Cineplex Entertainment

Susan Paterson
Director of Client Service
RGP (Resources Global Professionals)


Sister Mary Rowell
Sisters of St. Joseph


Chief Mark Saunders
Toronto Police Services


The Honourable Karen Weiler
Retired Judge of the Court of Appeal for Ontario



Bruce Rivers*
Executive Director


Shirley Broderick
Director, Finance & Purchasing


Josie do Rego
Director, Development & Communications


Carol Howes
Director, Program Services


Cindy Metzler
Associate Executive Director

*Bruce Rivers retired and Mark Aston joined Covenant House Toronto as Executive Director in July 2019.
Thank You

It's because of you that our youth have access to the programs and services they need to build a brighter future. We are grateful to all of our donors, partners and volunteers.

We are grateful to Catholic Charities and ShareLife for their continued support of our transitional housing, Youth In Transition and mentorship programs.