More than 60 people — a diverse and dynamic mix of young leaders and youth-serving organizations — joined us for a Community Check-In on September 27 at the Sandy Hill Community Centre.

They provided important information, ideas and insights to help us focus our efforts and boost their impact.

What We Heard

There’s lots of exciting work being done by and with young people in Ottawa: work on housing and homelessness, mental health, employment, diversity and inclusion, responsive schools, and civic engagement.

This work takes many forms: community organizing, school walk-outs, creating safe spaces, youth teaching youth, activism through arts, culture, sports and service, skills and confidence building, help with connecting and networking.

We also learned about shortfalls. There are gaps in the connections between youth leaders and  those trying to serve them, meaning young people are struggling to access support they need.

For example:

  • There aren’t many places they can learn from each other — across issues and communities.
  • Tapping the experience of experts is often difficult.
  • Too many demands are put on too few young leaders, risking frustration and burnout.
  • Finding funding and navigating the grant game is complicated, especially for marginalized and racialized youth and those who don’t speak English or French.
  • Young people find it hard to know which agency or organization does what and hold them to account.

We heard loud and clear that Youth Action Now can make a valuable contribution by connecting young change-makers — to one another and to mentors — and by building capacity, funding youth-led initiatives, and celebrating empowered youth.

What We’re Doing

Building on these ideas, we are launching a series of initiatives to help unleash the power of young people working to make real change.

  • Creating quarterly gatherings, bringing together young leaders for networking, story-telling, skills-sharing and mutual learning — and to have some fun!
  • Hosting an online resource hub with tips and tools; links to funders, mentors, speakers and experts; a mapping of agencies and opportunities; a forum to exchange ideas and offer mutual support.
  • Matching young leaders with mentors who can support their efforts and increase their impact.
  • Organizing workshops to learn more about strategies and tactics for making change.
  • Funding youth-led initiatives and helping to develop grant proposals.
  • Highlighting youth initiative and leadership through speaker nights and an online speakers bureau.

We’ll be working on these initiatives in the coming weeks and months — and we hope you’ll join us in making them a reality.