Shak’s World secures community support, looks to move into downtown space next month

“Our expectation is that Shak is working towards an Oct. 1 start, so not too far in the future, a couple of weeks.” – Ward 8 councillor Jim Harris

The vision of a local non-profit organization seeking to create a community centre in the downtown core for at-risk youth appears set to become a reality with the support of local partners.
The group, Shak’s World, wants to move into 59-A Maple Avenue, the site of the former Barrie Youth Centre, as Shak’s World Community Centre. Identified programming could include a Canadian Mental Health Association (CHMA) drop-in site, a junior police academy, a Black youth night with the Barrie Police Service, a junior NBA program, a scholarly elite tutoring service, Shak’s World’s basketball program, and a Youth Haven community-integration program.
“Having a hub for all of (these programs) would be incredible,” the organization’s founder and president Shanicka Edwards (Shak) told council on Aug. 10 during a presentation about her programs.
Edwards had been seeking $42,000 from the City. However, a staff report says municipal funding is not required at this time because of community support.
“It is staff’s understanding that council funding is not required as funding has been secured for the first six months of operation of Shak’s World,” says the report.
“Staff also understand that community organizations such as New Path and CMHA have potential to offer funding opportunities for the following six months should applications be submitted and approved. Shak’s World could also apply for additional funding from other external community-based organizations.”
Recreation and culture staff met with Shak’s World, as directed by council on Aug. 10, to explore support opportunities, including the leasing of 59-A Maple and the use of other City facilities to host programming, and to review the group’s business plan. The plan, says the report, did not include pro-forma financial statements (to) identify sources of revenue and planned expenses in a level of detail necessary to determine any measure of financial sustainability. 
“Without further detail on revenues and expenses, it is difficult to comment on the financial sustainability of the program as outlined in the existing business plan. Further development of the business plan is strongly recommended.”
On Monday, committee adopted a two-part motion presented by Mayor Jeff Lehman: that council expresses its support for Shak’s World’s vision to establish a centre for at-risk youth in Barrie, and that staff refer Shak’s World to the Sandbox Centre and Georgian College’s Centre for Change Making and Social Innovation for guidance, including the development of their business plan.
Georgian’s centre, said Lehman, has “a specific mandate to support the development of social enterprise in the community (and) is actually a world-leading institution with a Ashoka designation … (the) centre has a really excellent handle on the granting process, the kinds of government programs that are out there … and they have resources in-house to (provide assistance).”
The Sandbox, he continued, has the knowledge and capacity to “assist with … the task of business planning.”
Information in the staff report included:
• Shak’s World’s identified mission is to address youth mental health through sports, mentorship and community, and the guiding principles to achieve this mission were identified as respect, integrity, discipline and accountability 
• Its target demographic is youth aged 7-17 years old, with priority neighbourhoods being the Letitia Heights and Grove Street areas
• The general structure of programming provides participants a year-long, three-phase program that includes basketball training, life skills, mentoring, nutrition, and educational opportunities; the intent is to provide programming to 240 marginalized youth in the first year of operations.  
• Ward 8 councillor Jim Harris assisted in obtaining the funding through community organizations supporting youth mental health. In addition, a GoFundMe campaign has been set up with a fundraising goal of $42,000.
• The site at 59-A Maple Avenue totals 12,588 square feet and includes a gym, 13 individual office spaces, several multi-purpose areas, and a non-industrial kitchen area.  The office spaces and multi-purpose areas provide ample space to offer workshops, conduct meetings, and provide offices for both Shak’s World and partner organizations as well as rental opportunities. The downtown location is in close proximity to the geographic target market outlined in the business plan. It does, however, provide challenges in serving marginalized youth in other areas of the City. 
Harris told committee that “our expectation is that Shak is working towards an Oct. 1 start, so not too far in the future, a couple of weeks.”
He was praised for his efforts in securing community support for the program.
“Shak’s World has been able to partner with two local organizations (New Path and CMHA) and I really have to thank councillor Jim Harris for his work (on this). The sentiment around the table was that this can be a very good thing for Barrie, and that (Shak) is a community leader that we want to support and assist in developing her vision,” said Lehman.

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