WHO WE ARE
Precious Gems Project is a grass roots community organization that offers opportunities for young people to attend and experience programs that specialize in self-expression through the arts. We believe that exposing youth to creative situations allows them to build their confidence and self-expression and develop skills they will use throughout their lives.
Established in 2005, Precious Gems has been part of the Kingston/Galloway / Orton Park community in Scarborough. In collaboration with the City of Toronto, Cedar Ridge Creative Centre, and two school boards, we have successfully sponsored over 150 children to attend camps and after school programs. In 2014 our scope broadened to include the introduction of art programs in both the St. Jamestown and Regent Park communities.
A recent report stated that Toronto had the highest child poverty rate of any major city in Canada –The Hidden Epidemic A report on Child and Family Poverty in Toronto Nov 2014. This means we need to find ways for young people to have access to activities that will help them build their confidence and create paths for them to explore their passions and creativity.
Over the years we have built relationships and developed a strong reputation in the community. Additional schools and organizations continue to contact us to request sponsorship for their students to attend the art programs. Each year we receive notes from our ‘gems’ expressing their love of art, a desire to learn more, and to make new friends. Their wish is to have the same amazing experience as others who have previously attended our sponsored programs. Our continued focus is to offer sponsorships and programs to young people where they would otherwise not have had the access or opportunity to explore their creativity though artistic expression.
Our goal is to increase the number of children /schools sponsored by Precious Gems so we are continually looking for opportunities to expand to as many communities as possible.
Our fundraising to date has been a series of fundraising events and individual donations. This strategy, while engaging, isn’t as comprehensive as we require to provide the scope and level of funding we need to extend our sponsorship program to additional children and neighbourhoods. Precious Gems is applying for charitable designation status, which should be completed in 2015. Once this is received, we will have greater access to grants, corporate sponsorships and tax incentivized donations, allowing us a broader reach throughout the Greater Toronto area. This will help us fulfill our mission to help the youth of today find their voice, build their self-confidence, and self expression.
“Look for an area in your community where you don’t currently have a presence
and look to do something about it.”
Always interested in creative expression, Aileen Hill started Precious Gems Project as a class assignment. That was the beginning of realizing a dream of creating positive and artistic experiences for young people. After graduating from York University with a degree in Psychology, Aileen worked for a hotel company for over 20 years managing people and developing training programs. She was part of the corporate United Way committee for over 10 years holding various positions on the council including two years as co-chair. Aileen has received certification in Fundraising Management from George Brown College. With her focus more and more on raising money to send children to art camps, she left her full time position in hospitality in 2012 and now concentrates on building and growing Precious Gems Project.