Summary of organization/program

The Community Knowledge Centre is at the core of what we’re about at the Toronto Community Foundation: connecting philanthropy with community needs and opportunities. It is a companion piece to our Toronto’s Vital Signs® Report. While Toronto’s Vital Signs® offers a snapshot of the issues facing our city, the Community Knowledge Centre is a snapshot of the community organizations providing solutions.

Contact information




 33 Bloor Street East, Suite 1603 Toronto, Ontario M4W 3H1

 (416) 921-2035

Geographic region

  • Local

Neighbourhoods Served:

  • Toronto Central
  • Toronto East
  • Toronto North
  • Toronto West


  • Youth 12 to 18
  • Youth/Adults 19 to 29

History/Background Information

Amanda Parris and Natasha Daniel, like so many young people tried to find a place for themselves in the school system. While one attended high school in Ontario farm country and the other at an inner-city Toronto school, the difference of location was irrelevant as they both shared feelings of disconnect from the mainstream curriculum.

In 2007, the two best friends were provided the opportunity to work with some brilliant young people in the Jane-Finch and Malvern communities who also felt stigmatized in school and were looking for spaces to communicate, reflect and creatively share their stories. In A program without a name, without funding and without a curriculum was born. Operating on the overdraft of Natasha and Amanda’s bank accounts, young people between the ages of 11-15 defined the program, suggested lesson plans, critiqued ideas and provided continuous feedback. Students began to exude more confidence in themselves and created healthier relationships with teachers, families and friends.

Natasha and Amanda continue to dream what an ideal learning space can look like. Alongside an amazing team of community artists and educators they continue to spark the imaginations of numerous individuals across the city, creating what is now a collective dream.

Accolades and Accomplishments

  • In 2011 received a Vital Youth award from the Toronto Community Foundation
  • 2009 Safe Spaces Award through the Girls Action Foundation
  • Since 2007 we have received financial investments from The Youth Challenge Fund, The Laidlaw Foundation, ArtReach Toronto, Lawson Fund, Social Investment Fund, Toronto Arts Council and Ontario Arts Council
  • Lost Lyrics has been invited to share learnings on our outreach strategies, engagement practices and arts-based methodologies at international arenas such as the United Nations Habitat Safe Cities Summit in 2008 in Durban, South Africa and the 2008 Organization of American States Ignite the Americas Summit
  • Students have performed and exhibited work at such events as the May Day No One is Illegal Rally, 106&York Artist Showcase, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and MuchMusic’s RapCity
  • Lost Lyrics has had the opportunity to engage hundreds of young people and adults across the city through invitations to conduct workshops in spaces such as:  The TDSB Black Students Equity High School Conference, the Sister 2 Sister Conference, the Urban Arts Young Women’s Leadership Forum, Free the Children Me to We Conference, Oakdale Middle School, Archbishop Romero Catholic Secondary School, Cedarbre Collegiate Institue and the TDSB Tools for Change Equity Conference

Dominant Media Forms

video production


Lost Lyrics is a mobile and innovative learning community that empowers young people to create a bridge of knowledge between the streets and the classroom. Challenging the banking system of education that puts regurgitation and memorization on a pedestal, Lost Lyrics confronts this paradigm. We locate critical self-empowerment as an integral component to the learning experience.Students define the curriculum and create a positive and reflective self-image while having fun using arts-based tools of education. The themes and activities we explore help challenge young people’s understanding of their complex surroundings so they can learn to be critical thinkers and access support while navigating the school system, media, peer circles, culture and communities. Like the acclaimed writer Frances Moore Lappé, Lost Lyrics believes our “whole mission in life is to help us find the power we lack, to create the world we want.”

Statement of Principles

not provided


The Blueprint After-School Program:

In this program, we engage critical themes of fluctuating self- identity with students between the ages of 11-15 in the communities of Malvern and Jane-Finch.  We have engaged themes such as sexuality, art as disruption, hood politics, global Hip Hop activism, the politics of drugs and the roots of beauty ideals. 

Artistic Development Weekend Program:

In this weekend program, students receive the opportunity to articulate the themes of Lost Lyrics through tangible artistic channels such as rap, recording, photography, film and visual arts.  These sessions bring together both students from the Eastside of the city (Malvern) and the Westside of the city (Jane-Finch) each weekend to the downtown core. 

Original Griots Internship Program:

The Original Griots is an internship program for the older students of Lost Lyrics who have grown up with Lost Lyrics and are now interested in translating and expanding their knowledge into tangible skills. 

The Live Report Card Showcase:

The Live Report Card is an annual event where our students as artists and advocates creatively share the knowledge they gain in Lost Lyrics programs with the community. 

Lost Lyrics Travelling Workshops:

Lost Lyrics offers workshops for community partners in schools, community centres and at conferences.

Lost Lyrics One Mic Speaker Series:

Lost Lyrics offers speaking services and have been invited to participate on panels and deliver keynote addresses at conferences, schools and community centers throughout Toronto as well as around the world on their methodologies, case studies and perspectives.

Lost Lyrics On Tour:

Since their debut at the It’s Bigger than Hip Hop Show at York University in 2007, Lost Lyrics students have been requested to perform at numerous events around the city, allowing them to bring their lessons to audiences from diverse backgrounds, perspectives and ages. 

Travelling Workshops

For the past four years, Lost Lyrics has been invited by various community partners to conduct workshops that support students in developing a critical analysis on patterns and trends that shape their everyday experiences and provide them with tools to articulate their perspectives and positions.  

We have connected with hundreds of young people in spaces such as: Oakdale Middle School, Archbishop Romero Catholic Secondary School, Cedarbre Collegiate Institute, The TDSB Black Students Equity High School Conference, the Sister 2 Sister Conference, the Urban Arts Young Women’s Leadership Forum, and the Free the Children Me to We Conference.

We are currently offering a series of workshops called the Lost Lyrics Intensive.  This workshop series illustrates the foundations of what Lost Lyrics is all about.  It is an attempt to explore the marriage between theory and practice; the contemporary and history, ideas and experience.  These workshops are flexible enough to be offered to individuals between the ages of 11-18 years old and can supplement curriculums in English, History, Social and World Studies and the arts (drama, music and visual arts).  Students who participate in Lost Lyrics workshops leave with an expanded vocabulary, a more developed lens of critical analysis, heightened literacy skills and tangible outlets for expression.

Partners are invited to choose a specific workshop theme(s) or to contract us for the entire series:

  • Missing Pages: Silent Stories from Canadian His/Herstory
  •  From Saartijie Bartmaan to Fair and Lovely: Where do Ideas of Beauty Come From?
  • From Chris Brown to Barack Obama: What makes a man?
  • Black Barbie: The Nicki Minaj Effect
  • Hood Politics 101: Resisting the Prison Industrial Complex


Samples of work

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Funding Sources

Currently the Lost Lyrics Travelling Workshops does not have a formal funder.  However we have been supported by those who have asked us to conduct workshops.

We have connected with hundreds of young people in spaces such as:

Oakdale Middle School
Archbishop Romero Catholic Secondary School
Cedarbrae Collegiate Institute
TDSB Saving Our Selves (SOS) Camp
Sister 2 Sister Conference
Urban Arts Young Women’s Leadership Forum
Free the Children Me to We Conference.