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.
Social Venture Partners Teens (SVP Teens) is a youth-driven group in Waterloo, Ontario working to create a powerful network of teen changemakers in the region. Maddie Cranston and Nathan Wong are the co-chairs of SVP Teens for 2020-2021 and they are excited to be connecting and supporting 60 teen changemakers.
With the support of the RBC Future Launch Community Challenge, Community Foundations of Canada, Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation, and Social Venture Partners Waterloo Region, Cranston and Wong are building on a legacy of youth-led community change.
The RBC FLCC grant is supporting the SVP leaders to facilitate their expanded work and community leadership through supporting workshops and network building.
“We are hoping that the impact of our program will be bringing up a generation of socially concerned and involved adults that are passionate to give back to their community,” said Cranston.
A COVID-Friendly Organizational Mission
The SVP Teens program is unique in that there is no defined scope. Rather, the projects the group takes on each year are driven by the interests of the members and a broader mission of inspiring youth to lead socially conscious lives. Their mission proved to be vital to the community in 2020.
“We learned that youth thrive when they are able to connect with others. Through SVP Teens’ philanthropic action and emphasis on building genuine friendships, we hope youth will be able to virtually foster connection with their community,” said Wong.
“To respond to the barrier of online meetings, we organize specific online activities to help create bonds through our screens—things like Kahoots, online games and icebreakers,” Wong added.
It’s not all just fun and online games. In the SVP Teens program, teens volunteer countless hours to see what happens behind the scenes of a grant selection process, to mentor one another, and to learn how to give back to their community.
Finding meaning on a Zoom call
In addition to the work being supported by RBC, SVP Teens is also doing additional fundraising to support community grants in their area
Cranston and Wong also noticed something different about the SVP Teens community grant applications this year. “There is increased awareness and consideration of mental health, food insecurity, and youth development, all of which have been greatly impacted by the pandemic,” added Cranston. “[The pandemic] was a major factor in the decision to award our yearly grant to the Child Witness Centre in Kitchener.”
The Centre provides support, education and advocacy for children and youth who are victims or witnesses of abuse or crime. Higher rates of domestic abuse and greater difficulty in preventing it are heartbreaking outcomes of COVID-19 that SVP Teens hopes to address.
Through online channels like Zoom and Slack, the SVP Teens community is working hard to build connections, friendships and real change in their communities, during a global pandemic.
“The SVP Teens community has been very helpful at this time, it gives teens a way to feel connected and like they are engaging in something meaningful,” said Wong. “So far, COVID-19 is an exercise in resilience and with our passionate members, we know there is nothing we cannot overcome,” added Cranston.
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.