In the summer of 2019, we put out a call to action for youth in 185 small and mid-sized communities across the country to submit their ideas for projects that respond to an urgent local need. Providing grants of up to $15,000, the goal of the RBC Future Launch Community Challenge is to help shift the power to young leaders making positive social or environmental change in their communities, while gaining valuable skills and experience.
Young people are not future leaders, they are already leading social and environmental change. This was evident in the project proposals we received. Community foundations working with us have selected 215 projects in 150 communities across the country and have begun sharing news about the important work this program is supporting. They will continue to do so through January 30, 2020.
Here are some of the exciting #RBCFLCC projects we have seen emerge so far:
- Young people know that diversity makes our communities stronger, and in Red Deer, Alberta youth from four partnering organizations (C.A.R.E., Youth HQ, Urban Aboriginal Voices Society, and Lindsay Thurber High School) will be working with the Central Alberta Refugee Effort (C.A.R.E.) to launch a three-day overnight camp. The camp will encourage learning and relationship-building among youth from diverse backgrounds with the intention to increase cross-cultural awareness and dialogue.
- Young people have emphasized their interest in fostering connections with the environment around us. In partnership with the Hilliardton Marsh Research & Education Centre youth from New Liskeard, Ontario will develop a four season nature and activity trail that will allow youth to learn about the environment while having fun and building intergenerational relationships.
- When youth are encouraged to be creative, innovation takes centre stage. In the Mistissini, Québec area, the Uusdaadaouw: Let’s Build project, in partnership with the Cree Nation Government and the Cree School Board to develop five youth-led community art initiatives. Each one focuses on sharing artistic expression and developing leadership through a home-grown Eeyou Istchee solution.
- Access to resources is a challenge for many communities, and in Invermere, British Columbia, youth from four elementary schools and various local agencies are partnering to launch Summit Hub App, a mobile phone app to connect youth with resources and supports in their community. The app will be managed through the Invermere Summit Youth Centre and will include things like links to mental health services, job postings, volunteer opportunities, and more.
- Creating spaces for youth to connect and learn is vital in building strong communities. In Saint-Agapit, Quebec the Youth Group of Lotbinière will be holding gatherings where youth can come together and exchange clothes or accessories while learning valuable skills through themed workshops.
- Youth know what their communities need to thrive, and in Riverton, Manitoba youth from the Riverton & District Friendship Centre asked for more activities for youth, led by youth. This winning project will provide activities for young people with the intention to increase community engagement and help build important skills.
- The arts can be a powerful tool for social change, and in North Battleford, Saskatchewan The Dekker Centre for the Performing Arts is creating a Young People’s Theatre Ensemble in partnership with local youth. Through this initiative, the theatre ensemble will work together to create a piece of theatre on a topic of local concern, with the intention to create a space to have important conversations in their community.
Local media are taking notice
Communities are celebrating their young leaders and the important work they are driving forward. Across Canada, media are picking up these stories and showcasing some of the great work already underway in Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Yellowknife among others.
For example, the Daily Herald Tribune in Grande Prairie Saskatchewan interviewed Hailey McCullough about Project Full Stop, an initiative that will allow at-risk individuals and those who experience menstruation an opportunity to obtain free menstrual hygiene products. As reported: “It is all too common to see those who have serious periods miss out on important activities such as school, work and social events due to a lack of period hygiene products,” said Hailey McCullough, one of the youth leaders behind the project. “To us, it was vitally important to provide these often at-risk individuals with free products and provide a safe space for them at the public library.”
My Campbell River Now (in British Columbia) interviewed successful youth applicant Chloe Valentine about the Brighter Day project that will help create better connections between local youth and seniors: “So it’s still a bit of working title but we wanted something positive. We wanted to let people know if you are suffering from mental issues or depression, isolation, loneliness, there is a brighter day coming. There is help available, and there are people that really care about them.”
Foundations will continue to share news of their RBC FLCC funded projects through January 2020. We’ll be updating our website as we go. In the meantime, follow #RBCFLChallenge for real time updates and some great photos from across Canada.