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The IMPACT Program

Last January, the Gay Lea Foundation announced a $20,050 grant to the New Haven Learning Centre’s IMPACT Program, which aims to break down barriers for people with developmental disabilities and help them find employment in their communities.

Located in Etobicoke, Ontario, New Haven Learning Centre is committed to the treatment and education of children and adults with autism and related disorders, focusing on interventions and support to help improve the quality of life for those affected.

In 2017, the Centre introduced its IMPACT Program, which provides pre-employment workshops in health and safety training, resume writing assistance, time management skills, job search practice and interviewing skills. The program also included wage-subsidized work placements and job coaching support. The first year of the program was partially funded as a new service model through contributions from Employment and Social Development Canada. With this support, the Centre was able to subsidize wages and encourage companies to take an ‘assumed risk’ in hiring someone with a developmental disability.

In the first year of the program, 12 participants completed the workshops and all reported an increase in confidence and desire to be employed. Once the workshops were complete, participants moved into their work placements, with 67 per cent eventually offered a permanent position.

“New Haven’s IMPACT workshops were useful in helping me better understand the inner workings of workplaces and my rights and responsibilities as an employee. The IMPACT program also helped me find paid work in my field,” says an IMPACT client.

Gay Lea Foods is proud to have participated in the first year of the IMPACT Program in 2017-18, by offering one of its participants, Chris, a work placement at a Gay Lea Foods warehouse. With support from New Haven and Gay Lea Foods staff, Chris thrived in his new role and was eventually offered a permanent position. He continues to work with Gay Lea Foods today.

“We recognize the rich and diverse society we live in and strive to be an inclusive employer,” says Gay Lea Foods President and CEO, Michael Barrett. “It was our good fortune to be introduced to Chris through the IMPACT Program in 2017 and an honour for us to support the program once again through our Gay Lea Foundation.”

Building on the success of its inaugural year, the grant from the Gay Lea Foundation allowed the New Haven Learning Centre to double participation in the IMPACT program and broaden vocational training and placement initiatives in 2019. The grant also allowed for more employer mentoring to encourage more flexible thinking to bring value to organizations.

“As project lead and Job Coach for IMPACT, I can say that the Gay Lea Foundation’s direct support helped facilitate a successful program that has touched the autism and related disabilities community by enhancing their employability skills and giving participants the better opportunity to better themselves,” says Jake Senger, IMPACT Employment Facilitator. “Financial commitments to programs such as IMPACT truly change the trajectory of opportunity for our clients. Thank you for your support!”

For more information about the New Haven Learning Centre and its programs, visit

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