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About Us The story of University Settlement

University Settlement is a multi-service agency that was founded in 1910 and has the distinction of being the first community-based social service centre in the City of Toronto.

Our services are directed at helping individuals and families live full lives and assisting individuals in identifying and meeting personal goals whether it is to find housing, obtain employment, learn English or get fit and stay healthy. University Settlement offers a wide range of social services to individuals and families in our community with a focus on assisting newcomers to adapt to Canada. Our many annual festivals and celebrations provide opportunities for the community to come together to honor and celebrate the traditions and customs of the diverse communities we serve. Annually, we host a Chinese Lunar New Year, Black and Women’s History Month events, Iranian Norouz New Year Celebration as well as our summer Grange Festival in the park for children.

Our Mission
University Settlement helps individuals and families to learn and grow by engaging them in social, cultural, recreational and educational opportunities. Founded in 1910, University Settlement is committed to enhancing the quality of life of the people in the diverse communities we serve.

Our Vision
Our vision is a community that is safe and healthy, and where individuals of all ages, from all social classes and cultures belong, mixing freely and respecting one another. In this place, people’s basic needs are met and they have the opportunity to grow and learn through participation in artistic, cultural, recreational, educational and employment opportunities.

Our Values
At University Settlement, we as staff, volunteers and Board:

  • Value partnerships and teamwork
  • Demonstrate responsiveness to community needs
  • Respect and celebrate the diversity of our community
  • Operate with equity and fairness
  • Ensure accountability and transparency to our stakeholders
  • Work towards excellence in all that we do
  • Nurture the potential of all those with whom we interact


University  Settlement’s three offices are part of culturally rich and vibrant neighborhoods in downtown Toronto and North York. As part of these diverse communities, University Settlement helps individuals and families to learn and grow by engaging them in social, cultural, recreational and educational opportunities. With a full-time and part-time staff of approximately 225, University Settlement has developed programs to address the needs of more than 10,000 users annually through diverse areas such as settlement services, English language classes, employment and training programs, senior services, youth programming, homeless programs, music and arts education, and daycare. We have also entertained almost 8,000 more community members at our festivals and concerts. In addition, our main site hosts a full recreation centre with a pool, gym and nautilus facilities. Today, the members of University Settlement are as diverse as the city of Toronto itself. That diversity is reflected in our board and staff and in the volunteers who work with us to provide services each and every day.

Our long history provides numerous examples of our ability to address local needs whether it is opening our doors to the homeless in the 1990s, developing a partnership with the police to offer children services in 2004 or developing, this year, English language cafes to assist newcomers in practicing their spoken English language skills. University Settlement continues to develop, grow and evolve to meet the needs of the people of Toronto, and the communities we serve.

While operating on an annual budget of $5 million, University Settlement remains a long-standing United Way Member Agency, and receives funding from the United Way of Greater Toronto, the Federal and Provincial governments, the City of Toronto and the private sector. In addition, funds are collected through registration fees of various programs and a number of different fundraising events held by the Agency.

University Settlement is incorporated as a non-profit and charitable organization which is directed by a volunteer Board of Directors who are elected by its members at its Annual General Meeting each summer.

View University Settlement’s historical timeline here.

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