About the Center
The WE Global Learning Center (GLC) opened its doors in September 2017. Housed in a beautifully restored historic building in Toronto’s Corktown district, the WE GLC is a realization of the vision that Craig Kielburger and Canadian philanthropist Hartley T. Richardson discussed as they walked the plains of the Kenyan savannah. Under the blue skies that are home to the Maasai Mara, they imagined a new home for WE’s headquarters. They dreamt of having an established address where WE could thrive and advance its programs globally.
The headquarters have become a hub that brings together like-minded people under one roof. It is a beautiful open space where families, schools, and youth groups can come together to participate in WE’s educational and service-learning programs. The WE GLC is a place for educators to invest in ongoing professional development and a shared space where social entrepreneurs are able to network and develop their new ventures. It is really more than just a headquarters. It is a community center, providing access to resources and mentorship.
Without the generous initial gifts from Hartley Richardson, The Richardson Foundation and David Aisenstat, the WE GLC may have remained just a dream.Thanks to their kindness in action, a community of business leaders and philanthropists were able to bring that dream to life.
The WE GLC Features
WE Connectivity Hub
The WE Connectivity Hub is fitted with Skype technology that has been generously donated by Microsoft, making borderless communication a reality. Students and teachers in Canada can be in touch with other young people and educators anywhere in the world.
Social Incubation Hub
The Social Incubation Hub is a hands-on space where mentorship is provided through structured programming and one-to-one coaching with young social entrepreneurs.
WE GLC Legacy Room
The Legacy Room is a space dedicated to honoring Gord Downie and all that he has done to advance the lives of indigenous people. WE continues this legacy with a commitment to Canada’s journey toward reconciliation.
Hartley T. Richardson Empatheatre
WE is committed to bringing together young people, students, and educators from around the world to engage in interactive events. The Empatheatre is a space for large groups to engage in workshops, speeches, and service-learning programs.
Two Floors Up
The second and third floors are where you find the domestic and global teams, respectively. In this hive of activity, the domestic team focuses on local projects as well as youth and educator engagement. The global team tackles the task of building partnerships that will bring our sustainable international development model to life.
The Story of the WE Offices
Our vision is to see the WE GLC evolve and grow into a community for agents of change with space for social entrepreneurs and other charities to work side by side with the WE team.
We see the world as being interconnected so we designed a space to bring people together in a sustainable, cost-effective way. We try to act as a bridge between people the world over from developed cities to remote communities.
WE GLC is a space for all people. We open our doors locally to children, families, educators, and guest speakers. We take advantage of advanced technology to communicate with our friends and family in other parts of the world, making workshops and service-learning programs available to all.
When Craig Kielburger founded Free the Children, at the age of 12, his family home became its headquarters. Craig’s parents, school teachers Fred and Theresa Kielburger, happily made the space available to their children and their children’s friends, as they worked together to fight child labor and poverty overseas.
This home, affectionately known as Thornbank, played a major role in the growth and evolution of WE. For years, the home served as the WE hub, hosting young people from around the world as they joined forces with the Kielburgers to plan and launch social programs globally. On any given day, you would find kids from Canada, Japan, Australia, and the United States working together to shape their world into a better place.
The Kielburger parents recognized that their children had found their calling and saw the organization’s potential. Theresa and Fred made a decision to move out of Thornbank and donated it to WE to use as its first official headquarters.
With a sharp eye for real estate, Theresa and Fred had always supplemented their income as teachers by buying, renovating, and selling homes. When they recognized that WE had outgrown Thornbank, they purchased a building in Toronto’s Cabbagetown district that became the new headquarters of WE. Always supportive of their sons and the WE mission, Craig and Marc’s parents have continued to be generous benefactors of WE.
The lessons Craig and Marc learned from working in a home-based, warm, open-door atmosphere have shaped the vision of the WE GLC.
How the WE Global Learning Center was Founded
The WE GLC was founded through the kindness, generosity, and vision of a community of philanthropists and caring partners.
Long term WE supporter Hartley T. Richardson along with the Richardson Family, the Richardson Foundation and David Aisenstat gave us our initial landmark gift. They shared our vision for the WE GLC and inspired an entire community to come together to bring the vision to life.
We offer special thanks to the following families and foundations for their generous support of the WE GLC:
- Hartley, Heather, Aidan, Thor and Celine Richardson
- The Richardson Foundation
- David Aisenstat
- The Gilgan Family
- Modesto and Filomena Romano Family
- The Rumi Foundation
- The Losani Family
- Craig Burkinshaw
- Jennifer Tory
- The Longo Family
- The Rothney family
We want to also recognize the incredible generosity of our incredible lead partners who donated services and technology to bring our vision of a global, fully connected WE GLC to life:
- Royal Bank of Canada
- For a full list of the champions who helped bring the WE GLC to life, please visit: https://wecharityglobalcenter.com/donors/.
Thanks to these wonderfully kind donors, we were able to establish the WE GLC without having to utilize a single penny from any of the WE programs.
Real Estate Philosophy
Thanks to sound counsel from our advisors and our board, WE Charity adopted an early philosophy of using targeted donations to acquire real estate as an organizational asset rather than an expense. This strategy has allowed us to avoid substantial leasing costs and has contributed to WE’s overall sustainability.
All of our real estate transactions have been independently reviewed by a former Supreme Court justice. They were found to be of sound and reasonable judgment with proper sources of funds. Our board of directors oversees the entire process. WE never uses any project-designated funds or any funds raised by schools or children to acquire real estate.
We believe that real estate is more than brick and mortar. It is a tool towards being a part of local community. We are proud to be able to provide our young workers of all physical abilities with a safe, and fully accessible workspace.
Take a Look Inside
The WE Global Learning Center has been named Toronto’s nicest new office space by BlogTO, and has also been featured in the Globe and Mail and HELLO! Canada.