WE Reveals New Headquarters and State-of-the-Art Global Education Hub with the Opening of the WE Global Learning Centre

- Thanks to the generous support of Hartley Richardson and Family, the Richardson Foundation and David Aisenstat, the WE Global Learning Centre will provide millions of youth across Canadian and around the world with service learning opportunities

TORONTO, Sept. 27, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, the WE Global Learning Centre (WE GLC) officially opens its doors to Toronto, Canada, and the world. With a vision of creating a “campus for good”, the opening of the state-of-the-art Centre marks an integral transformation in WE’s ability to further engage youth, educators and families worldwide in service-learning programs. Through advanced technology, interactive communication tools and cutting-edge programming, the WE GLC is an international hub that is welcoming communities throughout Toronto and connecting them to people across the country and around the world, who are working together to create a positive change.

WE has a history of more than 20 years of making doing good, doable by empowering people to make a difference in their local and global communities. Founded in 1995 by social entrepreneurs, brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger, WE is a family of organizations, made up of WE Charity, empowering domestic and international change, ME to WE, a social enterprise that creates socially conscious products and experiences to help support the charity, and WE Day, filling stadiums around the world with the greatest celebration of social good.

The opening of the WE GLC marks a milestone that will propel the family of organizations through another 20 years of powerful global change. It will serve as a field trip destination for local schools to learn how to take part in meaningful civic action, a technological hub allowing WE’s educational programming to reach youth and educators across Canada and globally, including Indigenous communities and other areas previously difficult to engage with due to geographical boundaries, and a hub offering personal development for educators, and coaching for students. As a physical headquarters for Canada’s largest service organization, where staff administer domestic and international educational programming supporting WE Schools and WE Day efforts, the Centre helps teams engage a generation of young change-makers to discover their cause, and receive the mentorship necessary to take action and make a positive difference in the world.

The establishment of the WE GLC was made with an initial landmark gift from long-time WE supporters Hartley Richardson and Family, the Richardson Foundation, and David Aisenstat. Their generous actions were the spark that inspired a remarkable community of business leaders and philanthropists to come together as hopeful visionaries and to bring this vision of the Centre to life.

“By bringing the WE organization together under one roof, the WE Global Learning Centre offers young people a dedicated learning and shared community space in a global classroom environment,” said Hartley Richardson, President & CEO of James Richardson & Sons, Limited, and WE’s Global Campaign Chair, Power of Change: 20th Anniversary Challenge. “The impact this will have on students, educators and families throughout Canada is monumental – with the state-of-the-art technology, nowhere is off limits from accessing WE’s leading mentorship and leadership programs.”

"We are so grateful for leaders like Hartley Richardson, the Richardson Foundation, David Aisenstat and all of the visionaries and organizations who believe in the ability young people have to create and lead meaningful change through service-learning opportunities and helped realize the establishment of the WE Global Learning Centre," said Craig Kielburger, co-founder of WE. “At the age of twelve, I started a charity because I could not find an existing organization that supported young people who wanted to make a difference. As Canada’s largest youth service organization, annually WE engages 1.8 million Canadian students. We are so excited to support youth service and social entrepreneurship on a global scale through the opening of the WE Global Learning Centre.”

The WE GLC’s programming connects schools throughout North America and the U.K., including those in rural and Indigenous communities, linking them to youth around the world by allowing them to meaningfully engage in leadership development programs. Through cutting-edge programing and communication technology, the Centre is expanding its reach and fostering a new generation of young leaders.

In addition to accessing WE’s free curriculum-based resources, educational programming and a team of experts in youth leadership development, tens of thousands of educators and community leaders will be able to access unique opportunities through the WE GLC, including leadership training, STEM-based service-learning activities and timely educational content focused on current social issues. 

Unique features of the WE Global Learning Centre include:

  • WE Connectivity Hub:  Virtually connecting youth and educators across Canada and around the world, the WE Connectivity Hub creates real-time opportunities for borderless communication.
  • The Hartley T. Richardson Empatheatre: A state-of-the-art theatre, the Hartley T. Richardson Empatheatre is founded in leadership and created as a space rooted in nurturing empathy. With a capacity of up to 200 people, the Empatheatre offers an engaging area for interactive events such as speeches and workshops. The space can be divided into two digital classrooms, with micro tile screens, advanced audio speaker arrays and a professional video broadcast bay. The technology in the classroom allows speakers and WE program experts to deliver compelling virtual experiences to schools anywhere in the world. Through interactive virtual Skype sessions, WE can reach schools that otherwise would not be able to receive an in-person touch point with WE due to geographical barriers.
  • Interactive design: The main floor of the WE GLC is a dedicated space for the public, ideal for school tours, and designed with a vision of a “campus for good”. Equipped with digital touch screen walls, the main floor showcases the history of WE including major organizational milestones and projects close to the organization’s heart – from Indigenous issues and reconciliation within Canada, to the empowering opportunities every day in WE Villages, communities where WE partners implement WE Charity’s sustainable international development model.
  • The Legacy Room: In honour of Gord Downie’s legacy and commitment to improving the lives of First Peoples, and in collaboration with the Wenjack family, the Legacy Room acts as a space dedicated to WE’s commitment to the country’s collective journey towards reconciliation. As a focal point for school tours, the Legacy Room acts as a space that encourages youth and all Canadians to talk about the past, and connects us as a nation to ensure we are on a path towards meaningful reconciliation.
  • Filming and broadcast studios: As a platform for real-time story-telling opportunities, WE’s filming and broadcast studios allow for immediate sharing of empowering stories. Whether straight to broadcast, webcast or live on social media, online digital content can reaches thousands of schools and tens of thousands of teachers across North America and the U.K., equipping WE to share social stories with its social media following of more than 4.6 million.
  • Wellness Centre and quiet room: Created as a space for WE employees and visitors to recharge, the Wellness Centre and quiet room offers a retreat for reflection and privacy and the newest addition to WE’s award-winning employee culture.

The WE GLC is based in a heritage certified building located at 339 Queen Street East in Toronto’s historic Corktown neighbourhood. Over the last two years, the renovation has seen the building fully restored to its original 1908 and 1925 design intentions, including the original door, exposed brick, timber posts, and open ceiling brick and beam interior. Canadian suppliers were used widely and wherever possible. The decision to stay in the East End of Toronto was a deliberate choice by the organization. WE wanted to maintain day-to-day operations within the priority neighbourhoods of Toronto’s Moss Park and Regent Park, where WE has significant relationships with local schools, communities and businesses, particularly in Cabbagetown, where WE has been established since 2004.

The initial $15 million commitment to create the WE GLC was realized through a targeted donation from long-time supporters of WE and Founding Chairs of WE Day: Hartley Richardson, President & CEO of James Richardson & Sons, Limited and David Aisenstat, President & CEO of the Keg Steakhouse & Bar. The development of the WE Global Learning Centre would not be possible without the Founding Visionaries who helped establish the permanent home for the organization through generous contributions from Hartley, Heather, Aidan, Thor and Celine Richardson; the Richardson Foundation; David Aisenstat; the Gilgan Family; the Modesto and Filomena Romano Family; the Rumi Foundation; and the Losani Family.

The WE GLC was brought to life through the generous support of Founding Corporate Champions whose combined unique expertise created an advanced facility, including: Royal Bank of Canada who provided the capital investment and programming necessary to create the WE Incubation Hub which serves as a dedicated working space for youth and coaching for social entrepreneurs; TELUS who laid 3.8 km of Ethernet cable and has helped WE bring the dedicated TELUS WISE WE Rise Above Program to students and educators across Canada; Microsoft who has championed WE’s digital transformation facilitating communication with youth and educators across the country and around the world with Skype; Siemens Canada, who provided their state of the art building automation system, helping to reduce the Centre’s environmental footprint; and Cisco, who has helped enable the technology and content sharing as the WE team engages with change-makers around the world.

WE is thankful for the services of TriAxis Construction Ltd, Teknion, SMART Technologies, Ryerson University, Office Source, k2 designworks Inc., Downing Street, BIG Digital Corp, and Applied Electronics.

Lastly, WE gratefully acknowledges the following Founding Family Champions for their support in bringing the space for change-makers to life, including: Craig Burkinshaw; Jennifer Tory; The Rothney Family, and The Longo Family.

WE’s programing is supported by the Government of Ontario, helping engage young people in leadership and civic engagement.

WE would like to thank its board members who have guided the organization along this journey, as well as the real estate experts, engineers and consultants who have donated their time.

Press assets available on the Electronic Press Kit here.

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For more information, please contact:

Katie Watkins
Associate Director
Public Relations

About WE
WE is a family of organizations making doing good, doable. WE is made up of WE Charity, empowering domestic and international change, ME to WE, a social enterprise that creates socially conscious products and experiences to help support the charity, and WE Day, filling stadiums around the world with the greatest celebration of social good. WE enables youth and families to better the world – supporting 2,500+ local and global causes by volunteering millions of hours of service, shopping daily with an impact, and raising millions of dollars that directly benefit their local communities and the world. Globally, our teams in Asia, Africa, and Latin America have provided more than 1 million people with clean water, built 1,000 schools and schoolrooms overseas, and empowered more than 200,000 children with access to education. WE was founded more than 20 years ago by social entrepreneurs, brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger. Join the movement today at WE.org.