Follow our inspirational journey through the last 20 years!
Lloyd Morrisett coined the term “digital divide” to mean “a discrepancy in access to technology resources between socioeconomic groups’’ (Robyler, 2003, p. 191) and that providing youth with access to computers, online resources and technology, gives them the potential for enhanced success.
Our founder, Lara Tavares, wanted to serve her community and had an idea - provide computers to kids who could not otherwise afford them. It seems like a no brainer now, but 20 years ago, no one was doing it. She created Sky’s the Limit Youth Organization in Toronto in 2003 to offer a solution to the digital divide in Canada.
“Sky’s the Limit provides youth with a limitless window of opportunity to be whatever and whoever they dream of becoming.” - Lara Tavares, Founder, 2003
Sky’s the Limit Youth Organization’s Founder, Lara Tavares, partnered with reBOOT Canada to purchase 100 refurbished desktop computers and with Pathways to Education Regent Park to coordinate delivery of the computers to students enrolled in their program.
An initial $20k donation funded this inaugural delivery (November 16th, 2004), of 100 computers which cost $200 per unit. Recipients received a desktop computer, keyboard, mouse and installed software to get them up and running quickly.
Sky’s the Limit applied to the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) for registered charity status and began to solicit donations for future deliveries.
Sky’s the Limit delivered 225 refurbished desktop computers to youth participating in Pathways to Education Regent Park.
Our first fundraiser was held at the Steam Whistle in Toronto where Natasha “Tash” Jean Bart and “The 1926 Project” delivered a jaw-dropping dance performance to our inaugural group of donors, supporters and volunteers.
STL was featured in several news stories as the word about our mission began to spread across the GTA.
STL was granted registered charity status on 1/28/2005 (Registered Canadian Charity: BN 857579742RR0001)
The word of Sky’s the Limit’s important work continued to spread in the GTA and we began to receive and fill requests from youth across the city.
Back to school computer donations to youth enrolled in Pathways to Education Canada Regent Park continued as well as new deliveries to Burkes Bookstore and the St Lawrence Community Health Centre.
STL held our second annual fundraising event in June, this one at Revival featuring a musical showcase of Canadian talent.
The Toronto Sun published “Kids get new hope online - Try to imagine a world without computers or the Internet. Most people can’t”, an article featuring STL’s mission and early successes. (January 16th, 2006)
STL delivered 390 computers across the GTA and expanded to Ottawa, distributing 50 computers to Burmese refugees. Employees from the IBM Ottawa Lab teamed-up with Biking Blue for a Century (100km) ride for the newly established Ottawa Chapter of STL.
CNC Global Limited (now Randstad Canada), announced STL as one of its chosen charities, donated $10k and provided critical early-stage funding for our mission to serve youth in the GTA.
STL made an impact abroad as Founder, Lara Tavares, participated in the development and implementation of Careforce International’s "Portable Computer Project" in Ndalani, Kenya.
We held our 4th annual fundraising event, Sonya Bhatia hosted the “Life Without a Computer” fundraising event and we were selected as the charity of choice for the “IceCream Summer Fest” concert taking place at the Molson Amphitheatre.
We were featured in the Kanata Kourier-Standard,The Toronto Star, Metronews, The Villager, CBC Radio One, Rogers Television, CBC Ottawa Morning, and The Ottawa Citizen.
Our annual event raised funds to bring computers to Indigenous youth. We delivered 80 computers to youth enrolled in the Kinomaugewgamik Elementary School and to families residing in the Shawanaga First Nation community.
STL volunteers delivered 585 computers across the GTA and Ottawa. The main recipients were Pathways to Education (P2E) Regent Park, P2E Rexdale, P2E Lawrence Heights, P2E Pinecrest (Ottawa), First Nations School of Toronto, COSTI Immigration Services, Youth In Motion and Stepstones for Youth. We also went national with a delivery to the Boys & Girls Club of Fredericton, New Brunswick.
We delivered our 1000th computer! (August 8th, 2008).
Lara Tavares, STL Founder, won the FLARE Magazine Volunteer Award, the AronIMAGE Award (Youth & Community) and received a PricewaterhouseCoopers Individual Leadership Grant. Lara was featured in the Women’s Post, PEACE Magazine and ComputerWorld Canada.
2009 was a year of exciting partnerships. Kevin and Stephanie Weekes and The Kevin Weekes Celebrity Charity Golf Classic funded 50 computers for youth enrolled in The Phoenix Academy of Barbados. The Mike Pinball Clemons Foundation (MPCF) funded 60 computers to youth enrolled in the Youth Association for Academics, Athletics, and Character Education (Y.A.A.C.E.), and we partnered with ROGERS Canada to donate 70 computers for youth enrolled in Manning’s School in Westmoreland, Jamaica!
STL expanded to western Canada, and delivered 100 computers to youth enrolled in the The Native Education College in Vancouver, British Columbia. The college helps Indigenous learners realize their potential in a
supportive and cultural environment.
Our volunteers delivered 382 computers across Southern Ontario and in Montreal, Quebec. The main recipients were Pathways to Education (Regent Park, Kitchener, Verdun and Pinecrest), Big Brothers and Sisters of Peel, and Youth In Motion.
STL won “Best of Bayview” & “Best of North York” for Community & Public eye for 2009 and STL Founder, Lara Tavares, won the $10,000USD 2009 Harlequin “More Than Words” award, attributed to women who have made extraordinary contributions to their communities. We were mentioned in various media outlets including the Best of Bayview, the Bayview Post, the Fan 590 and CTV.
Our 2000th recipient, Brittiany, received her laptop on April 9th, 2010!
STL expanded east to Prince Edward Island with 15 laptops to Morell Regional High School. We continued our expansion into western Canada and donated 55 laptops to the Urban Native Youth Association in Vancouver, British Columbia and 70 laptops to RB Russell School in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Our volunteers delivered 240 computers across the Greater Toronto Area, with major donations going to P2E Regent Park and Rexdale, YWCA Jump in Etobicoke, Big Brothers and Sisters of Peel, and Living Rock in Hamilton.
We also made an impact abroad with donations to a Ugandan orphanage and the Haiti earthquake relief effort.
Having joined STL in 2007, Rema Tavares stepped into the role of Executive Director in 2010.
STL received donations from TELUS, Ernst & Young, Fletcher’s Meadows Cross Trainers and TD Trust, the George Lunan Foundation, the JP Bickell Foundation as well as an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant for $113,000 to increase resources, and won a year of free Endeavor Volunteer Consulting for Non-Profits.
STL was featured in the Brampton Guardian, The Unique Life of J.S. Trench, Karmaloop TV, the Harlequin blog, CBC’s Metro Morning and Rogers TV.
STL participated in Fletcher’s Meadows Cross Trainer’s annual “Run4Hope” and partnered with them to donate 20 laptops to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel.
STL participated in the TELUS Days of Giving and partnered with them to donate 100 laptops and knapsacks to youth. We partnered with Kevin Weekes and Stephanie Weekes to donate 50 laptops to YWCA Jump in Etobicoke.
Our volunteers delivered 435 computers across the Greater Toronto Area, with major donations going to Pathways to Education Regent Park (100), Lawrence Heights (75), Scarborough (20) and Pinecrest in Ottawa (70). We also delivered 35 laptops to YouthLink (formerly Big Sisters of Metropolitan Toronto).
STL Founder, Lara Tavares, was featured in the Canadian Who’s Who, the only publication of its kind in print in Canada and the standard reference source of contemporary Canadian biography.
Our 3000th recipient, Francis, received his laptop (a MacBook Pro) on August 21st, 2012 at a celebration hosted by Tony Bradshaw and Canyon Creek, sponsored by Compugen Finance, Randstad Canada and TELUS. Rami Thabet (Aigu Consulting) provided funding for a "Thabet-Sky's the Limit Scholarship" for three STL recipients who also received laptops.
STL partnered with the Mike Pinball Clemons Foundation to donate 56 laptops to the Youth Association for Academics, Athletics and Character Education (YAAACE).
Our volunteers delivered 551 computers, with major donations going to Pathways to Education Pinecrest (125), Scarborough Village (19), North Hamilton (17) and Kingston (124), Yonge Street Mission (60), YWCA JUMP Scarborough (27), North York Womens Shelter (20), Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel (20), Musqueam Indian Band (20), Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture (15), Youth In Motion (12), CW Jefferys High School (10), Living Rock (5) and 21 individual donations.
STL attended the Fletcher’s Meadows Cross Trainer’s 8th annual Run 4 Hope, Randstad Canada’s annual Charity Auction, the Central YMCA’s Y Green Festival, CCVT’s annual First Light Celebration, and the symphony with IBM.
We appeared in the “Toronto Is Awesome” Charitable Choices series and UBC’s “The Thunderbird”, and STL Founder, Lara Tavares, was featured in the 2012 edition of Canadian Who’s Who.
STL held laptop drives at Ontario Centres of Excellence (now the Ontario Centre of Innovation) and TELUS and we began our partnership with Compugen, purchasing our refurbished laptops from them going forward.
STL’s Grace Han created and managed our Cerebral Palsy Project, partnering with the Ontario Federation of Cerebral Palsy to offer specialized laptops for individuals with disabilities.
Our volunteers delivered 438 computers, with donations going to the Mamow Sha-way-gi-kay-win: North South Partnership for Children (65), Pathways to Education Pinecrest (57), and individual donations to 35 recipients across the Greater Toronto Area.
STL partnered with IBM, the Black IBM Networking Group (BING) and the Michael Pinball Clemons Foundation (MPCF) to donate 142 laptops to youth participating in a week-long leadership & technology summer camp. MPCF also funded 12 laptops for Youth in Motion.
We partnered with Softchoice Cares to donate 111 laptops to Pathways to Education Regent Park, and with Ernst and Young to donate 16 laptops to Pathways to Education Rexdale.
STL participated in the annual Randstad Charity Auction, the IBM Charity Fair and celebrated our 10th Anniversary!
The CB Powell Foundation, the Trinity Support Foundation and STL partnered to donate 35 laptops to youth participating in YWCA’s JUMP program in Scarborough, a support program for women and girls 13 years or older who are new to Canada. This program helps newcomers explore career options, build skills, search for jobs and integrate into Canadian society.
Our volunteers delivered 174 laptops across the Greater Toronto Area with donations going to YWCA Jump Etobicoke (28), Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel (20), Pathways to Education Regent Park (8), and 21 individual laptops delivered with a SKETCH program participant receiving our 4000th laptop donation!
Michael “Pinball” Clemons Foundation and STL partnered to donate 20 laptops to Yonge Street Mission. SoftChoice and STL partnered to donate 9 laptops to SKETCH and the CIO Association of Canada, SoftChoice and STL partnered to donate 33 laptops to Pathways to Education Scarborough Village.
STL participated in the FMCT 10th annual Run for Hope, Compugen's Green4Good celebration, Mozilla’s Hive workshop, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Toronto Chapter Philanthropy Awards, Randstad Canada's annual charity auction, TELUS's 3rd annual Celebration of Giving, IBM's CASCON’s #Hackathon, the TELUS charity fair, and the CIO Association Peer Forum!
Long term STL supporters, the Fletchers Meadows Cross Trainers held their annual “Run4Hope” to benefit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel, raising funds to donate 15 laptops.
STL partnered with Ernst and Young to donate 51 laptops to Pathways to Education Regent Park and with CIT Canada/Compugen for an additional 17 laptops. A partnership with Softchoice resulted in 18 laptop donations to Pathways to Education Hamilton.
STL honoured the contribution of board member Terry Powers. In his decade long role as Director and Board Chair, Terry was an insightful mentor during our early years and he forever changed the course of STL from a fledgling grassroots organization into a fully staffed national organization. Terry and his amazing team at CNC Global/Sapphire Technologies/Randstad Canada believed in us and helped us change the lives of nearly 4000 youth across Canada.
Having joined STL in 2007, Caroline McIntosh stepped into the role of Executive Director. Equinix opened a new office in Toronto and donated $20,000 to STL in honour of their grand opening. Rema Tavares and Grace Han attended the Queen’s University Conference on Philanthropy.
STL and the Fletcher’s Meadows Cross Trainers “Run4Hope” delivered 13 laptops to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel.
We increased the impact of our service and began hosting technology camps with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) clubs and youth organizations.
We began working with hEr VOLUTION during its first year of operations. This amazing organization, founded by Doina Oncel, creates opportunities for the next generation of women in STEM, connecting them with leaders in the industry for career support. We attended their panel and gave laptops to their program graduates.
We provided 19 laptops to Syrian refugees and hosted a tech camp for them to quickly get them up and running on their new devices.
We delivered 40 laptops to the Rexdale Community Hub STEM Club and partnered with them to deliver our STL Tech Camp. During our camp, we passed the 4,000 laptops delivered marker!
Sky’s the Limit held technology camps in Regent Park with guest speakers covering such topics as cyber bullying, internet safety and navigation, video game development and coding, laptop repair and maintenance, social media and branding, program development, website design and development, and post secondary education and scholarship options. Each participant went home with a laptop, thanks to Ernst and Young who partnered with us to provide 90 laptops to Pathways to Education Regent Park and 20 laptops to Pathways to Education Scarborough Village. We celebrated a milestone in our partnership with Ernst and Young when they donated the 1,000th laptop to us in support of our youth recipients enrolled in Pathways to Education Canada! These laptops enabled their recipients to access digital literacy programs, tech camps, homework clubs, and more.
While continuing to increase the impact of our service by hosting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), we also began supporting our community partner organizations that began running their own, such hEr VOLUTION’s March Break camp where participants learned valuable tech skills for employability such as; business planning, marketing, financial planning, how to develop a crowdfunding campaign, coding, online marketing, and public speaking. Each participant also went home with a laptop.
We continued our ongoing support of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Peel with a donation of 12 laptops funded by the Fletcher’s Meadows Cross Trainer’s Annual Run4Hope.
STL partnered with Ernst & Young to provide 40 laptops for graduates of Pathways to Education Regent Park's Digital Literacy program. This program aims to bridge the digital divide by providing coding workshops, support and STEM clubs. IBM donated 50 laptop bags to the participants and STL Board Member, Lance McIntosh, led workshops on career development.
We partnered with the Fletcher’s Meadows Cross Trainer’s Run4Hope to provide 12 laptops to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel.
STL took a brief hiatus during our Executive Director, Caroline McIntosh’s maternity leave, and our involved Board of Directors stepped in to oversee pre-arranged deliveries and workshops.
We received a HIVE grant from Mozilla for $5000 and our final payment of a $46,200 grant from TD Canada which began in 2016.
STL Founder, Lara Tavares, was honored to be a chosen nominee for the 26th annual RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards in the “Social Change Award” category. As Canada’s premier national awards program for more than three decades, the awards recognize and celebrate the strides of Canada’s most accomplished, influential, and impactful women, elevating this group’s important contributions – from economic growth to social change across sectors and industries.
STL delivered 46 laptops to hEr Volution. hEr Volution’s inaugural GO!stem program which was recognized by the Mayor of the City of Toronto and, the week in which the program was held, was recognized as the GO!stem Week. It was also the spark behind the STEMing UP Program. STL provided laptops to graduates of both programs, as well as some engineering and space camp grads.
We delivered 95 laptops to Pathways to Education Regent Park’s Digital Literacy Program graduates to support their mission to break the cycle of poverty through education.
With the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic, Ontario’s Ministry of Education launched “Learn at Home” on March 20, 2020. This new online portal provided resources that allowed Kindergarten through Grade 12 students to continue learning while schools were closed. Post-secondary education also made a move to online learning, with lectures being given virtually. The COVID-19 pandemic shone a light on an already fractured system. The government asked families to stay home and 'pivot to online learning', which was a large ask for those without the necessary tools for online educational success - a computer.
STL was a designated COVID-19 essential business in Ontario (Health care and social services #44 nonprofit organizations that support the provision of food, shelter, safety or protection, and/or social services and other necessities of life to economically disadvantaged and other vulnerable individuals).
With our youth in Ontario all learning online, getting laptops into the hands of the youth who needed them was more important than ever. We mobilized to coordinate the delivery of laptops, and, thanks to generous donations to our COVID-19 Relief Campaign, we were able to deliver 259 laptops to youth at the Rexdale Community Hub and Pathways to Education Canada’s Regent Park youth.
These are laptops that not only benefited the youth participating in online learning, but empowered and uplifted entire households and communities through giving access to online job applications, online housing applications, online government grants for the pandemic, online mental health resources, and most importantly allowed people connection to their community in a time when it mattered the most.
Laptop deliveries continued during the COVID-19 pandemic with socially distanced deliveries.
We distributed 164 laptops across the Greater Toronto Area to hEr Volution’s “Empowering Women Through STEM” program graduates (50), Pathways to Education Regent Park(40), The Good Guides (40), the John Howard Society of Toronto, a non-profit committed to providing and developing programs that reduce the social. Economic and personal costs of crime (10) and HomesFirst Families (4) for people displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic and currently experiencing homelessness.
STL Founder, Lara Tavares returned to her hometown, Ottawa, to deliver a total of 20 laptops to Gwen Madiba, the founder of Equal Chance, and current STL Board Advisor.
We joined the David Suzuki Foundation Future Ground Network, a hub of groups taking action in their communities to secure healthier, more viable futures in the areas of climate justice, biodiversity, waste reduction and sustainable systems.
STL was featured in BBK Network’s article “Canadian Organizations Doing Their Part To Bridge The DIgital Divide”, and was featured in CTV Toronto’s “Things To Know” episode that aired on September 25th, 2021.
Lara Tavares was featured in Anna Keenan’s Revealing 2020, and was featured in a CBC Canada News story about the role women play in climate change in Canada that aired on November 11th, 2011.
Laptop deliveries continued during the COVID-19 pandemic with socially distanced deliveries.
We distributed 195 laptops across the Greater Toronto Area to Pathways to Education Canada Regent Park (75), Rexdale (40), Scaborough Village for their Tech Challenge (20), Equal Chance for Ukranian refugees fleeing the war (35), Yonge Street Mission to support their goal of ending chronic poverty in a generation (15) and Girls Night In in support of their mentoring program (10).
Lara Tavares was featured in Voyage STL, and Canvas Rebel’s “A Tale of Two Need” compilation featuring entrepreneurs and creatives telling stories behind some of the risks they’ve taken.