Bringing the Vital Signs Report to Student Vote classrooms across Toronto

February 26th, 2015 by Dan Allan

Rahul Bhardwaj, President & CEO of the Toronto Foundation, recently met with a group of “budding city councillors” at a Toronto high school. These students were a part of a joint initiative between the Toronto Foundation and CIVIX, to bring the Toronto’s Vital Signs® Report into Student Vote classrooms across the city.

Coinciding with official election periods, students learn about government and the electoral process, debate the issues, and participate in a parallel vote on the official local candidates.

In the fall of 2014, 1,640 schools registered and 133,202 ballots were cast as part of the Student Vote program for the Ontario municipal and school board elections. Toronto’s civic elections were particularly exciting, and more than 30,000 students from across the city cast their ballots for mayor, council and school board trustee.


To increase engagement, CIVIX and the Toronto Foundation partnered to bring the Vital Signs® Report into nearly 300 Toronto schools.

One of 191 Community Foundations in Canada, the Toronto Foundation is an independent charitable foundation that connects philanthropy to community needs and opportunities across the city.

Published annually by the Toronto Foundation, the Report identifies the trends and issues affecting the quality of life in Toronto. It aims to inspire civic engagement and provide focus for public debate.

The Report and a specially developed classroom activity were distributed to registered Team Leaders in Toronto to accompany other Student Vote resources. Through the Vital Signs® Report, students learned about issues affecting their city in more detail, and encouraged discussion about how different candidates would address those questions.


One participating teacher said the Toronto Vital Signs® Report, “fostered interest in municipal politics and inspired my students to advocate for issues affecting their community” and added that it “gave us a lot of knowledge about our city and also provided an important framework within which I was able to bring up issues that were a part of municipal politics.”

Teacher Alicia Roberge and her Grade 9 geography class at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute provided a great example of how Student Vote and the Report could work hand in hand to increase youth civic engagement.

Alicia’s students created a series of videos and presented their work to Toronto Foundation President & CEO Rahul Bhardwaj on November 27, 2014. You can watch a video recap of the visit here.


“CIVIX was delighted to work with the Toronto Foundation last fall and have the opportunity to provide interesting research and statistics to participating schools in Toronto. We know it fostered great dialogue in classrooms about important issues facing our city. It was a valuable experience for all involved,” says Taylor Gunn, President and CEO of CIVIX Canada.

Overall, the partnership between CIVIX and the Toronto Foundation was successful in providing students with a greater understanding of the issues at hand in the municipal election. We look forward to working together again during the next Toronto election!

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