Classroom Champions mentorship program in desperate need of office space

Steve Mesler has a request for a charitably-minded landlord looking to fill their vacant office space with a little inspiration: welcome Classroom Champions as a tenant.

The international charity, which connects Olympic and Paralympic athletes with over 1,000 classrooms across North America, is headquartered in Calgary, where founder and past bobsled gold medal-winner Mesler just received word that his organization is being booted from its present location, which a company provided to Classroom Champions rent-free.

“They just went into receivership,” Mesler said, in an interview on The Eyeopener.

Recession woes continue 

Mesler speculated the recession that has battered Calgary commercial real estate since oil prices collapsed in mid-2014 is still extracting a toll, despite the recent uptick in commodities prices.

“People get maybe the misunderstanding that [oil] prices are up a bit and everything is going to be fine — and we’re moving along — [but] I think this is still the hangover from that,” he said.

That was a shame, because the arrangement was a win-win for both landlord and charitable organization, Mesler said.

Today’s podcast: Paul McLoughlin on Alberta politics; looking for a living kidney donor; Classroom Champions; Black Panther review. 25:22

“We moved into the space, we were able to give them a sponsorship in kind back to them, and they were able to support classrooms and schools in their communities,” he said.

Calgary-based Classroom Champions, which connects classrooms with Olympic and Paralympic athletes as mentors in over 1,000 schools across North America, is looking for new office space in Calgary, where the commercial real estate vacancy rate is over 25 per cent. Above, a photo of a class in Camden, N.J. (Classroom Champions)

Young, growing charity

The organization currently has offices until the end of July. Mesler hopes to hear from another company with a long-term lease which has more space than it needs, and wants to fill them with Classroom Champions.

“We’re looking for 4,000 to 5,000 square feet. We’re a young growing charity at this point,” Mesler said. “We’re looking for five to eight offices, a boardroom, [and] some space. We’re hoping over the next few weeks we can make that transition.”

While their first choice would be to relocate to another downtown location, Mesler said the organization is flexible.

“Downtown is nice, because a lot of our partners are downtown, so its nice to build the relationship between a charity and a lot of our partners who are still downtown — but parking would be cheaper out of the core.

“We’re open to any possibility.”

If the organization is unable to secure donated office space, they’ll be forced to pull from their operating budget.

“We had it budgeted for a five year term with the organization — the company we had this deal with — so we didn’t budget this $30,000/$50,000/$70,000 per-year expense that is rent here in Calgary for a charity our size. So we’ll have to pull from programming budget and that money will come out of our community and school programs and go to rent,” he said.

With files from The Eyeopener

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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.


Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

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