The WE Global Learning Centre is an innovative hub where doing good is a daily occurrence — welcoming youth and school groups from across the Greater Toronto Area for educational programming and also using broadcast capabilities to connect with students and educators from the 18,000 schools in our global network.
The WE GLC is housed in a beautifully restored heritage building at 339 Queen St. E., in Toronto and boasts cutting-edge technology, inspiring leadership programs, social issues workshops and event rentals. The centre is the realization of the extraordinary dedication of the entire WE family and our generous donors.
It serves the dual purpose of (a) hosting school groups from across the GTA for youth programming and serving rural and remote locations with broadcast capacities, and (b) also hosting the WE Charity staff. The first floor has no offices, and its design is inspired by an interactive science center with resources to assist visiting school groups learn how to better the world. This floor hosts Skype Pods, interactive wall displays, a professional grade broadcast classroom, an editing broadcast bay, break-out rooms for workshops and more. The balance of the space of the building is used to house WE Charity staff.
WE Charity for its 25th anniversary planned to launch a “Campus for Good” providing free and discount space to youth-led social enterprises and charities. It would provide services such as shared office space, and shared business services (including in branding, technology, communications etc.), and shared social impact services (including in impact measurement, eco-friendly cradle-to-cradle design, and accessibility design).
For this purpose, WE Charity also owns the adjoining retail building, 337 Queen St E., a two-story former retail space, which is currently used for storage and 333 Queen St. E., a 3-story townhouse style space for mixed use. There are two smaller properties that are owned by the Charity in the same block. As noted, further context is available in this December 2018 article in the Toronto Star. And additional information is outlined on our web site here as part of the announcement of our plans. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, that process has paused.
WE’s real estate philosophy has enabled us to have a centre to welcome young people. But it is also smart business. Through the purchase of real estate, WE Charity has avoided substantial office leasing or rental costs, enabling it to spend additional funds on projects rather than administrative costs. WE Charity estimates the net overall savings of owning its office space versus leasing/renting at approximately $1.2M annually, with additional efficiencies totalling several millions of dollars due to its technology-enabled delivery of programs supported by in-kind donations outfitting the charity-owned infrastructure.
Real estate also provides financial security for WE Charity, which does not have a formal endowment. The real estate holdings provide approximately 8-9 months of financial security, which is slightly low, however, generally in line with accepted recommendations for the sector. Specific donors provided funds for infrastructure to help WE Charity expand its programs and become more cost efficient in doing so.
No youth donations or project donations were used for the purchase of real estate.
All of WE Charity’s real estate is located within a block radius that straddles Queen Street near Regent Park / Moss Park in Toronto.