In 1998, the Broad Reach Foundation for Youth Leaders was formed to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Toronto sailing community.
With only one sailboat, the sailors who launched the Broad Reach Foundation for Youth Leaders were determined to change the complexion of the sailing community in a completely innovative way. They would reach out and engage under-served youth who had never had the opportunity to step aboard a 40-foot sailboat with a 60-foot mast.
Sharing the value of sailing
The founders understood the many barriers that prevent BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and under-served youth from experiencing the sport, science, and adventure of sailing and from gaining the values that can be developed through the discipline of sailing — values that can shape and enrich a lifetime.
The first barrier is economic. So, for almost 25 years, Broad Reach has provided our Summer A-Float programming absolutely free of charge. We remain the only sailing-based charity in Canada whose programming is free for everyone who participates.
Celebrating diversity, equity, and inclusion
In 2020, increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion remains at the heart of Broad Reach. Our program participants are recommended by almost 40 social agencies that support under-served youth. They represent cultures from the Middle East, Pakistan, the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, India, and the First Nations. And 60 percent of our participants are females between the ages of 13 and 29.
Some of our youth are in difficult circumstances: on the street, in conflict with the law, living in homeless shelters, experiencing inter-generational tensions, or dealing with the challenges of autism or epilepsy. But everyone is welcome, and everyone is given the opportunity to discover skills that they never knew they had, or to start their progress toward a new horizon that they never knew was possible.
And, just as our participants celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion, so our leadership team also demonstrates those principles. Our current President of the Board, Charles Waterman, is a dedicated sailor who brought his talents to Toronto from Barbados. He’s the first Black President of any sailing-based charity in Canada, and he leads a Board whose volunteers include women and men from the Far East and the Indian sub-continent.
Expanding our reach
Today, our mission and vision remain the same, but our revised name, Broad Reach Canada, reflects our ongoing progress.
Since 2017, our digital and hands-on programming has expanded to include 6,000 participants on the East Coast, in the St. Lawrence, on the Great Lakes, and on the Pacific. We now have four vessels in Toronto and partnerships with seven tall ships.
But we didn’t stop there: in 2021, one of our participants was from as far away as Nunavut! We think that speaks strongly to our success with increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion among wind, wave, and water.