Our History

At the Annual General Meeting of 2019, the President of the Board of Directors announced that the LCDR was to be renamed the Learning Essentials for Adults in Durham Region (LEADR). After a couple of years of strategic planning and a reenvisioning of the organization’s mission, vision, and values, this new name captured the scope of the work the organization continues to do and welcomed us into our 30th year.

Since 2005, LEADR has worked with over 882 learners and delivered approximately 104,880 hours of direct literacy instruction. The majority of these learners were assessed at Literacy and Basic Skills level 1, which means they would be unable to read and write for simple daily tasks. The Council has succeeded in helping these individuals improve their skills and reach their goals. With a waiting list of learners and a continued need for volunteers, the Council continues to strive to make community connections and raise its profile to meet the need of the 22% of Durham residents who have severe difficulty with literacy skills.

The first official meeting of the Literacy Council of Durham Region (LCDR) was held November 3, 1980 in Uxbridge, Ontario. Prior to this first meeting discussions had taken place and 17 volunteers became the first certified tutors for Durham Region. The centre of activity shifted in April 1981 to the Whitby and Oshawa area, to fulfil the needs of our learners.

Over the next few years, the LCDR slowly increased in size as the executive began fundraising and public awareness events started taking place. Training became more important as the demand for tutors increased from students that responded to public awareness.

In September 1989, the LCDR received its first provincial government funding, which allowed the LCDR the opportunity to open its first office. The grand opening of the office was held on February 3, 1990 with the Ministry of Education and other dignitaries in attendance. Under the direction of the LCDR, the READ hotline became an information source of all literacy providers in the Durham Region. With the expansion of services, the Council moved to larger quarters in August of 1990.

In 1993, the Literacy Section of the Ontario Training and Adjustment Board made a recommendation to the Board of Directors that the READ Hotline should become an independent organization. In October, a committee was formed to begin dialogue that would eventually pass the guardianship of the READ Hotline to the providers in the region. The Hotline then became part of the Literacy Network of Durham Region’s responsibility.

On June 27, 1993, the LCDR applied for and received its Incorporation Letters Patent.

In 1996, the Ministry for Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) assumed responsibility for funding literacy in the province. In response to the changing needs of learners and the Ministry, the Council has incorporated significant program reforms to collect and collate statistical information showing that learners progress through their involvement with the Council (In June 2016, the government announced that it changed the name of the MTCU to the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) and was again in September 2019 to Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD)).

In 2003, with the continued increase in work and responsibility but no increases in funding since 1993, the LCDR approached the United Way Ajax-Pickering-Uxbridge for support. The United Way approved its first funding for the Council and since that time the LCDR has been a full member of the United Way Ajax-Pickering-Uxbridge. The United Way Durham has continued to support the LCDR consistently and now represents approximately 20% of its annual revenue.

In 2010, the LCDR received funding to implement a Workplace and Essential Skills (WLES) project called Write2Work in collaboration with the Community Action Centre (CAW).

In 2011, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MTCU) implemented the Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum Framework (OALCF) as well as a new information management system, EOIS-Cams, to track learner progress and contact hours.

In May 2016, the LCDR started a partnership with the Durham Region Employment Centre to provide training to Youth Job Connect clients related to business communication with a focus on writing emails. The LCDR utilized its expertise in working with adult learners to provide much-needed, employment-related literacy skills to a demographic group that is often unable to access upgrading services.

In April 2021, LEADR moved from Oshawa to a new office in Pickering where we continue to serve all of Durham.