Youth Opportunities Unlimited

2012 Award Winners

Youth Opportunities UnlimitedThe winner – Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU)  based in London, ON works with approximately 4,000 youth each year, providing training, skills development, supports and referrals to assist youth in developing their potential and leading positive lives.

The initiative – The Cornerstone is a renovated three storey heritage building in downtownLondon. It is home to:

  • 28 units of transitional housing for youth
  • Youth Action Centre, a multi-service drop in centre
  • 2 alternative education classrooms
  • YOU Made It Café- a social enterprise
  • Rooftoop meeting room available for community use

Impact for youth –

  • Efficient access to basic needs, harm reduction supports, affordable housing and a host of other integrated supports
  • Increased employment: in-house learning environments provide paid  opportunities for youth
  • Skills development to enhance success in the labour force
  • Linkages to the broader community through supported referrals to agency partners
  • Increased self confidence:  youth seeing themselves as directing their own lives and removing barriers to their own success.
  • A safe and affordable environment in which to live and explore choices while gaining independence

Choices For YouthThe winner – Choices for Youth, providing community housing and lifestyle development supports for youth inSt. John’s NL.

The initiative –Train for Trades is a 10 month employment program that uses construction and energy efficiency retro-fit as the vehicle to train and employ youth through:

  • Basic safety and construction training for youth participants, including training in framing, insulation and vapour barriers
  • Undertaking home energy efficiency retro-fits for low income families in partnership with a local social housing provider, public sector union, government agencies, community organizations and local businesses
  • Intensive support to help youth navigate a personal plan for success and attain the stability they need to move forward in their lives, and overcome their own barriers

Impact for youth –

  • Reduced homelessness
  • Job related training, wages, and employment experience in the trades
  • Higher level of education through access to on-site GED program and opportunities to pursue post secondary education, training, and apprenticeship programs
  • Learning strategies to encourage social enterprise and self employment opportunities for youth
  • Reduced dependency on income support programs

The DoorwayThe winner –The Back Door, A Youth Employment Society inCalgary,AB, providing community support for youth who are making self-directed changes to move their life experience from street dependency to mainstream sustainability.

The initiative – The Doorway: Cultural Integration for Street Dependent Young People invests in youth who are developing and pursuing their own life goals related to housing, employment, legal, health, leadership, identification, finances, drug and alcohol use, education and volunteering. The Doorway provides a bridge for youth who have developed knowledge of how to survive on the streets who then need to develop knowledge and strategies for surviving in different mainstream environments, such as workplaces or with family.

Impact for youth –

  • Provides a safe and legal means of income through financial incentives available to youth who achieve steps in their plan and/or who contribute to the Doorway’s qualitative database and monthly self assessment opportunities
  • Fosters a change personal patterns leading to healthier and safer lifestyles
  • Supports youth in taking steps towards housing and employment as well as goals in other life domains
  • Members of the mainstream community learn how to foster the social inclusion of street dependent young people in mainstream culture

Centre résidentiel et communautaire Jacques-CartierThe winner – Centre résidentiel et communautaire Jacques-Cartier, a multi-service centre for 16 to 35 year olds inQuébecCity providing 27 units of transitional housing, social enterprise café, woodworking shop, circus art program, collective kitchen and garden, and arts initiatives.

The initiative – Residential component: Life plan approach and support for the community life among tenantsYouth work towards life goals that they set themselves within a supportive environment that values collective thinking, individual empowerment, and the individual’s capacity to take action.

Impact for youth –

  • Prevents homelessness among youth at risk through transitional housing
  • Stability in housing and organized life activities leading to gains in employment and education
  • A welcoming and supportive environment for healing, pursuing creativity, and finding a sense of belonging
  • Embracing the rights and responsibilities of tenant
  • Becoming agents of positive social change in the community

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