It’s the largest youth organization in Canada to date and it’s only getting bigger! Earlier this week, WEofficially opened the doors to its first ever Global Learning Centre (GLC) – a space for big thinking youth to pitch their ideas, connect with kids across the globe and ultimately impact their communities.
The centre is a dream come true for WE co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger. “It’s like a science centre to change the world,” Craig declared to the crowd. “We want to support their need to dream up a project and make it come alive.”
None of the funds that went into building the GLC were diverted from WE’s charitable initiatives. Instead, Canadian billionaire businessman Hartley Richardson donated $15 million to the cause, an unprecedented personal donation amount. But to Hartley, it was an investment in the future, “I don’t see it as a donation, I look at it as an investment. It’s an investment here in Canada, it’s expanding out into an investment around the world.” he said. “At the end of the day, it was an easy decision for my family.”
Among the notable speakers at the GLC’s launch was former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who expressed his gratitude for organization, “Even at this moment, when we are living in such a world of abundance, 65 million children are out of school," he said. "The WE Learning Centre may be small, but it’s hard to believe that even in this affluent, rich country like Canada, still you need to provide education for many people who may not have quality education.”
He continued: “We must work together. Only when we work together, we can do it. One cannot do it alone. I am moved by what the Kielburger brothers have been doing.”
The GLC is a three-story hub in the historic Corktown district of Toronto—a piece of the city nestled between Regent and Moss Parks. Craig and Marc created a global service space that they wished they’d had when they ran their first headquarters out of their parent’s house.
Arguably one of Toronto’s coolest new office spaces, the three levels allow for school fieldtrips, after-school programming, and content creation. They even have an indoor stadium cleverly named the Empitheatre, where they showcase documentaries and start important conversations.
WE, in partnership with Free the Children, has lifted 1 million people across the globe permanently out of poverty, with the implementation of educational facilities, safe water drinking sources, and more. They aim to expand that to 2.5 million.
The festivities continued Thursday (Sept 28) with WE Day’s 10th annual event, which boasted a star-studded line up. Kelly Clarksonhosted the show, along with performances by big name celebrities like Vanessa Hudgens, Hedley and Shawn Hook. Prince Harry even made a surprise appearance, taking the stage to deliver a passionate speech about service and giving back.