This story is a part of our RBC Future Launch Community Challenge (RBC FLCC) series, showcasing how youth are giving back and inspiring change by leading projects to address their communities’ needs.

Students in high school and post-secondary school have been known to question the validity of their classroom curriculums. How can these courses be applied to “the real world” and everyday life? How will this information help  them in their future?

Enter Canduit and youth leader Leah Davidson.

Based out of Stanstead, Quebec, Canduit is an organization that strives to connect youth in the community with organizations and businesses to work together on real-world problems. The goal is to connect classroom learning to life experiences, and help develop professional networks.

With the support of the RBC Future Launch Community Challenge, Community Foundations of Canada, Fondation communautaire de l’Estrie and the Townshippers Research and Cultural Foundation, Davidson is launching a Canduit movement in the Esterie region.

Experiential learning online?

“Having to transition everything online, and working with schools that closed last spring and are only now starting to reopen, has been the most challenging aspect. Some institutions have not been sure of their plans, whether they will meet in person, do distance learning or a hybrid, so we are going with the flow.  We are ensuring that all the projects can be done remotely to protect everyone’s health during this vulnerable time,” said Davidson.

Leah Davidson is proud to bring Canduit to Stanstead, Quebec.

A large part of Davidson’s plan to bring Canduit to high school and post-secondary students in the Esterie region was to do in-person presentations and talk to students about the benefits of experiential learning. Amid the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, Davidson and the Canduit team have gotten more creative in what they can do to support young people and help students prepare for a very different future.

“We’ve built virtual workshops and speaker series and also created online tools for students to work on projects with companies online, including discussion boards, video conferencing and project tracking tools. Although our focus remains on regional organizations and businesses, distance learning has allowed us to connect students with companies and organizations around the world,” Davidson explains.

The unpredictability of a global pandemic has been challenging for students too. Davidson noted that many of the summer jobs typically available to young people, like working as a camp counsellor, were not an option this past summer with COVID-19 considerations in place.

“Many youth are experiencing mental health challenges [due to COVID-19], and struggling with the social isolation aspect. Students who are graduating worry about the instability of the job market or adjusting to post-secondary education being completely online,” Davidson added.

Canduit’s overall mission has remained the same, but they have reimagined their program offerings to make them more safe and accessible. Using social media to get the word out about the Canduit project, connecting with students on Zoom and hosting online events titled “College to Career: How to Break into Top Tech Jobs for Business Students,” are just a handful of the approaches being used.

Davidson and the Canduit team have set goals and, pandemic or not, they will find a way to achieve them.

“We’d like to start sustainable work-integrated learning programs at several universities, linking students and educators to community-based organizations and local companies. We’d like to reach 100 students this year, getting them involved in skill-based projects, and expand over time.”

To learn more about Canduit, visit their website.

The RBC FLCC is a collaboration between Community Foundations of Canada and community foundations from coast to coast to coast. The #RBCFLChallenge youth-led projects are supported by RBC Foundation’s contribution of $2.2 million.