Author: Karen LeMoine, Director, Community Engagement & Stakeholder Relations, Sheridan College
The trials of the past year have shown the importance of civic engagement, and the opportunities that are unlocked when people join forces for the betterment of their communities.
For local businesses, community involvement isn’t simply about boosting exposure – it’s a meaningful way to contribute services and resources to meet community needs.
But civic pride also means helping every person in a community become their best selves – with no one left behind. Unfortunately, statistics show that our youth – key members of our community, and the future of our workforce – are facing barriers that could keep them from reaching their full potential.
The Halton Poverty Roundtable in 2018 showed 13,500 children in Halton live in low-income households. That same year, the Region of Peel revealed that 18% of children in Peel live in poverty. According to Statistics Canada data from 2016, 3,600 youth between the ages of 14 to 24 in the Halton Region weren’t involved in employment, education, or training.
That’s why in May, Sheridan College launched Youth Amplified – a suite of community initiatives rooted in a mission to unlock the transformative power of education – and help young people in our local campus communities forge a path to postsecondary studies.
Community-wide trends show that populations with higher rates of postsecondary education enjoy higher rates of positive civic behaviors such as volunteerism, voting, and higher overall employment rates that contribute to higher tax revenues for cities. The bottom line: higher education changes lives and community.
The key to Youth Amplified’s success is like that of many other local businesses: a focus on connecting deeply with and listening to the needs of our community.
Working with youth-serving organizations in Halton and Peel, we’re offering youth mentorship, connections to financial aid and resources, guidance through the postsecondary application process, a window into student life, and more.
So far, Youth Amplified programs include partnerships with organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel, Eclypse Youth Centre and Black Boys Code. In 2020 alone, Sheridan engaged close to 200 youth through these outreach programs: youth facing barriers to postsecondary education, and by extension, barriers to the local job market.
At Sheridan, we’ll continue listening and learning about the needs of youth in local communities. We know, as business owners, you’re listening too. We invite you to reach out to see how you can contribute.
Learn more about how you can get involved. Email karen.lem[email protected]