Engaging youth to work on community service projects so they can help their communities “build back better” from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is the goal of a new $5-million Youth Community Partnership program.
“We recognize that COVID-19 continues to dramatically impact young people’s prospects for work, which they typically use to leverage future job prospects or to pay for their education or training,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Now, more than ever, young people are looking for ways to support themselves, while giving back to their communities. Engaging in safe, physically distanced local projects is an incredible opportunity for young people to acquire new skills, earn money and contribute to building back an even better B.C.”
Communities around B.C. can apply to fund a community-service project of their choosing – like trail building, beach clean-up or invasive species removal, upgrading local parks or working for a local charity. In turn, they provide skills and work experience to young people who are unemployed, between 15-29 years of age, through the project. These young participants will benefit by applying the work-related skills and experience they gain on various projects in further education, employment or future careers.
“I encourage communities around B.C. to take advantage of the Youth Community Partnership program,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “These grants will help youth build their skill sets, gain work experience and help rebuild their communities as the province begins economic recovery from COVID-19.”
Local governments, non-profit community and environmental organizations, employer associations, chambers of commerce and Indigenous communities are encouraged to apply.
“Our youth are the future of our Nations,” said Robert J. Dennis, Sr., Chief Councillor of Huu-ay-aht First Nations. “Opportunities like this not only give us a chance to rebuild our communities following COVID-19, but allow us to invest and build capacity in the next generation of leaders. Students face an uncertain future in the wake of this pandemic and participating in this innovative program will give them an opportunity to do something positive while gaining skills they can use in their education path or in a future career.”
Applicants can receive grants of up to $10,000 per youth for projects running up to 16 weeks. The youth then receive a training stipend of up to $2,000 per four-week period (to a maximum of $8,000) for work between June and October 31.
Participants can also receive wraparound supports like bus passes, child care, work boots and personal protective equipment for the work, which will incorporate physical distancing and include no more than 10 youth per project.
It is anticipated that up to 500 youth and more than 50 communities in B.C. could benefit from the grant.
Chief Don Roberts, Kitsumkalum Band, Tsimshian Nation –
“Kitsumkalum Band is fully in support of this unique and innovative response to both post COVID-19 impacts, and youth and community capacity-building and development. Kitsumkalum Band is excited about the ministry’s ongoing commitment of First Nations youth and community engagement as demonstrated through such programming. We are confident other B.C. communities will follow the ministry’s lead by joining in with this Youth Community Partnership program and help their youth and community recover from the impacts of COVID-19.”
Colleen Giroux-Schmidt, vice-president corporate relations, Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. –
“At Innergex we believe that nurturing a resilient COVID-19 recovery that gives youth the opportunity to care for the environment in their communities is the best investment into a sustainable future for all. This program is an opportunity to help build a new normal that both addresses COVID-19 recovery and tackles climate change. We at Innergex support this as it aligns with our mission to build a better world with renewable energy.”
Allyson Graf, vice-president, community and strategic initiatives, YMCA of Okanagan –
“The successful transition to adulthood depends on a young person's ability to attain employment. Yet right now, youth are at a particular disadvantage, not only due to high unemployment, but also due to the isolation they have experienced over the past few months. As a charity that is a large employer of youth and one that delivers youth employment services, YMCA of Okanagan supports programs that invest in youth, teach skills and enable them to be part of the solution as we recover from this pandemic.”
Adriana Laurent Seibt, projects administrator, UBC Climate Hub –
“This new initiative is an important way to respond to both the impacts of COVID-19 and provide more support for youth. It’s great to see an initiative like this that aims to create paid opportunities for youth, while uplifting communities on a path toward recovery for a safe, inclusive and just society. I am hopeful that there will be further supports from the B.C. government for youth-driven organizations and initiatives, especially those working on issues like racial justice, climate justice, food security and youth empowerment.”
- The funding is being provided by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training ($2 million) and the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction ($3 million) through the Canada-BC Workforce Development Agreement and Labour Market Development Agreement, which helps Canadians get training, develop their skills, gain work experience and find employment.
- Many of the programs funded under these agreements help members of under-represented groups, such as Indigenous peoples, youth, older workers and newcomers to Canada overcome barriers to their full participation in the labour market.
- The unemployment rate for youth in B.C. aged 15 to 24 years was 28.9% in May 2020, up from 24.2% in April.
- Compared to May 2019, the unemployment rate for youth has risen 20.2 percentage points. (BC Stats)
Visit WorkBC to learn more about this provincial Youth Community Partnership program: https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-Workforce-Response-Grant.aspx
Learn more about the federal Canada Student Service Grant: https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/volunteer