Northpine Foundation Invests $1 Million to Drive Change for Neurodiverse Scarborough Youth

August 1, 2023

The Northpine Foundation is proud to announce a significant commitment of $1 million to Scarborough’s SAAAC Autism Centre. This investment will drive meaningful employment opportunities for young, neurodiverse adults and empower them to lead fulfilling lives in their communities.

Scarborough’s approximately 2,600 young adults, who are on the autism spectrum, face alarming unemployment rates of around 86%. SAAAC has been at the forefront of supporting this community for over a decade. Recognizing these individuals potential and unique capabilities, SAAAC launched the Goodness Gift employment social enterprise in 2018, offering a range of employment opportunities for youth transitioning out of the education system.

Building on the success of the Goodness Gift so far, this Northpine Foundation investment will support the program’s expansion and reduce the staggering unemployment rate by focusing on education, training, and career development.

“The transition for youth on the Autism spectrum after high school is quite challenging for them and their families, due to limited opportunities in post-secondary education and employment. We are investing in neurodivergent youth to prepare them for education and employment, while also collaborating with employers and organizations to ensure their success in the workplace,” said Naomi Gichungu, Northpine Foundation’s Impact Director for Scarborough. “This commitment strengthens our dedication to building a thriving Canada by addressing issues across the board in underserved areas. We are always looking to partner with like-minded organizations in our focus areas, to make a positive impact in their communities.”

The reimagined Goodness Gift program will establish an employment pipeline for Scarborough businesses, fostering the creation of microbusinesses, and introduce an education component to open new career paths for the youth.

“We are incredibly thankful to Northpine Foundation for this transformational investment that will accelerate our initiative to empower neurodiverse individuals in Scarborough to reach their employment goals,” said Geetha Moorthy, Executive Director of SAAAC Autism Centre. “We hope to partner with more employers and organizations to help these youth find meaningful work, and bring positive change for the workplaces, the youth, their families and their communities.”

Geetha Moorthy and her committed team have been instrumental in shaping the venture and creating opportunities for autistic youth. With the support of community partners, end-users, and scale-out partners, the partners are confident that this investment will enable SAAAC to provide autistic young adults with better opportunities to thrive.

This investment signifies a pivotal step towards empowering autistic youth and, in turn, uplifting the entire community of Scarborough. By leveraging the strengths and resources of local businesses, other partners and the community, this effort aims to create a lasting impact and demonstrate a scalable model that could be applied to other groups.

Learn more about SAAAC Autism Centre’s work here and see the Northpine Foundation’s investments in Scarborough here.