Globalization. Technological innovations. Climate change. An aging population. Urbanization. Demographic shifts. Everywhere we look, our communities and our country are rapidly changing, and the gap between the experiences of rural and urban communities is growing.

I’ve had the opportunity to speak about some of these changes with young people in communities across Canada. Many are courageously stepping forward as leaders, and are sharing their vision for the future of their communities.

Their own futures are also on their minds, as they’ve reflected on the rapidly changing ‘world of work’, one that is being reshaped by technology, automation, the emergence of exciting new sectors and the disappearance of entire fields. The changes that they’ve described are at a scale that I didn’t see when leaving school, even just five years ago.

Locally, community foundations have reported on these trends in Vital Signs reports and they have supported young leaders through grants and scholarships. At the national level, at Community Foundations of Canada, we highlighted the “seismic shifts” facing younger generations through the 2012 National Vital Signs report, #GenerationFlux, and we mobilized private, public and philanthropic contributions to the Youth Catalyst Fund based on its findings. I had the privilege of supporting the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th and witnessed community foundations’ commitment to young people as the Fund granted over $5M to more than 700 youth-led initiatives.

As I work with the RBC Foundation, CFC and a vast network of community foundations across Canada, I am excited to build on this commitment and shift power into the hands of young leaders in small and mid-sized communities. The RBC Future Launch Community Challenge asks youth and partner organizations to rally around one central question — What is your boldest idea to respond to an urgent local need — and I’m looking forward to seeing the ambitious and creative responses.

With young leaders stepping forward from Ucluelet, BC to Gander, NL, and from Tecumseh, ON to Yellowknife YK and even further North — what are shared experiences, and what is uniquely local?

I’m also looking forward to watching young leaders flourish. By participating in the Challenge, youth will both affect positive change, and will also have opportunities to gain skills, experiences, and relationships — which will all help prepare them for a bright future, in their communities and at work. At CFC, we are excited to learn from this experience.

What happens when we intentionally shift power, and put decision-making in the hands of young leaders? What is possible when partners from across sectors come together around a shared commitment to youth? What we will learn — and how can we use those learnings to transform our communities and our country?

This journey is only just beginning. We look forward to hearing ideas from coast to coast to coast, and to witnessing communities transform as young leaders bring them to life. Follow along and learn with us at #RBCFLChallenge.