Youth Central engages 1,100 youth, ages 12-18, annually through volunteer based programming. We provide a welcoming and safe environment that is driven by youth. We value meaningful and equal engagement between youth and staff, where individual strengths, ideas and opinions are respected and encouraged. We emphasize innovative programming approaches that prioritize teamwork, creativity, community connection and critical reflection. We believe youth should volunteer and be involved in social change efforts in all levels of community.
Empowering youth to find and build their communities.
All youth participate in shaping a vibrant community.
We believe that youth are awesome!
We honour the power of the youth voice and the importance of youth in our society.
We value a community in which all youth are respected and encouraged to be active citizens.
We value the diversity, skills, creativity, and talents of our volunteers, participants, and staff.
We value community partnerships that align with our vision and mission.
We prioritize the wellbeing of our youth volunteers in everything that we do. And most of what we do is centered around community service. We encourage and support youth as they develop their passion for community building while strengthening themselves personally.
In 2019, Youth Central began the process of developing its next Strategic Plan. What started out as a traditional strategic planning process quickly turned into much more. There was a desire from the Board and staff to take the organization on a bolder path.
With the guidance of a consultant, Youth Central connected with our stakeholders, including youth, to gain insights and feedback. We conducted surveys, focus groups, and interviews. Through the wealth of information collected we developed our next 5-year strategic plan. While we will maintain our current core programming, we will also strengthen our organization by taking active steps to ensure we are accessible to all youth in Calgary. We seek to identify and reduce the barriers that may discourage disadvantaged youth from participating in our programming. We know that youth who are at a crossroads often have the most to gain from community support and encouragement.
We’ve seen the impact that our work has on our current youth participants and we look forward to making our programming even more inclusive of all youth in Calgary.
In 2020 we also were thrilled to develop a new mission to guide the organization – “Empowering youth to find and build their communities.” Youth Central is more than a youth volunteering and leadership organization, we play an important role in supporting youth to connect to their community and build new positive relationships. We, the youth volunteers, staff, and board members feel confident that this new mission statement better reflects the work that we do in Calgary.
“I really enjoyed the open environment. In a world filled with competition and cutthroat attitudes I knew that anytime I walked into the Youth Central Office that my health, safety and well being was considered by everyone I met. Working with Mayor Nenshi was such an honor. Specifically being able to speak up on youth issues to someone in power was very enjoyable. Being able to promote and advocate for the agenda for the youth of our city made me feel proud to be a young Calgarian.”
- Youth Volunteer
After many years under the Calgary Board of Education, the Calgary Cinderella Project is now a part of Youth Central’s programs. We are working closely with the Cinderella Committee to continue this meaningful project and offer Youth Central’s program planning and volunteer expertise.
Youth Central was enthused to be a part of our first Calgary Cinderella Project in 2020, unfortunately, the 2020 Calgary Cinderella Project was cancelled given the growing COVID-19 risk in Alberta at the time. The health and safety of everyone involved was paramount.
We look forward to hosting future Calgary Cinderella projects, including a 2021 event (fingers crossed).
Additionally in 2021 the Calgary Cinderella Project received a Calgary Board of Education Lighthouse Award for making students, who are facing adversity, feel special and respected on their graduation days.
For almost 15 years, the Calgary Cinderella Project has dressed students in beautiful gowns and accessories that make their graduation day the special event it deserves to be. The generosity and commitment of volunteers have turned more than 3,000 students’ academic milestones into a memory they will always carry.
What the Calgary Cinderella Project does is so much more than providing graduation finery. Led by a dedicated core group of volunteers, they apply their professional expertise to create a safe and beautiful mental and physical space. This core group has poured time, thought and themselves into the project.
The most valuable part of my experience with YODA was using my skills in communication and design to create promotion materials and social media posts for the online ceremony. I learned to adapt to sudden changes caused by social distancing, communicate and fulfill others' needs, and effectively promote the YODA event using a variety of media.”
- Youth Volunteer
Youth Volunteer Corps Headquarters held their annual YVC Summit conference virtually on October 16, 2020, with the Virtual Awards ceremony taking place on October 17th, 2020 via YouTube.
Our YVC Program Coordinator, Peony Wong, attended the virtual Summit conference to network with other YVC affiliated organizations and learn how we can improve our current programming. Youth Central was proud to receive the following awards:
Through my writing with Youth Are Awesome, I am able to freely explore different topics involving art, culture, history and science while expanding on my knowledge of these topics. Through our monthly team meetings, I am actively exposed to like-minded youth who provide their own unique perspectives on current events, writing techniques and speaking to their audiences. As a Jr. Editor, I value the open and honest environment of our team meetings as it allows me to be a leader to younger bloggers, who are eager to create.”
- Youth Volunteer
Youth Central’s Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) program received a Big Build grant from YVC Headquarters.
The Big Build initiative creates construction-related service projects that help meet community needs, while also building trade skills among youth. We hope to engage over 75 youth volunteers and to volunteer 500+ hours by March 2021. Home Depot North Hill has committed to providing supplies and guidance. We partnered with four organizations including:
My daughter really enjoyed and learned a lot of valuable lessons. Your program gave her the opportunity to experience volunteering in different ways; for example, introducing her to different organizations and presenters. I commend you on successfully continuing the program online during these difficult times. I will recommend your programs to other parents and I know that my daughter will mention it to her friends.”
- Parent of Youth Volunteer
As a result of COVID-19 we quickly adapted and started to offer virtual volunteer projects. Each month we were excited to find new agencies to partner with, and offer new and improved projects for youth to come together, make a positive impact, and continue to build their communities.
We realized youth were eager to connect with one another through virtual volunteer projects. They enjoyed being able to give back to the community during this difficult and uncertain time. Our virtual projects allowed youth to volunteer and help the community from the safety of their home.
Their popularity and success could be seen as the projects filled very quickly once posted on our database. We knew we were onto something when so many youth were committing to multiple projects.
Our Tech Buddies program was a particularly successful virtual project. This project connected youth volunteers with seniors through Zoom, where they would teach seniors how to make the most out of their IOS devices.
Through this project, Youth Central secured a valuable new partnership with a new agency in our community and those who participated felt that their time spent was meaningful, fun, and engaging.
These opportunities have helped me to learn and understand the importance of youth volunteerism, especially through the connections I made with the like-minded youth that I had the opportunity to work with.”
- Youth Volunteer
Youth Central staff and YODA volunteers really came together to think about what was possible for YODA once COVID-19 hit Calgary.
Youth Central realized in March that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we would be unable to hold our ceremony in person this year. Although we initially hoped to postpone the event from May to June, it became clear that this would not be in the best interests of our guests. Youth Central staff and YODA committee members chose to adapt our ceremony into a virtual award presentation.
We opted for a pre-recorded virtual ceremony, due to restricted access to technology for many of our youth finalists during the pandemic. With the help of our award sponsors, staff, volunteers, and a few celebrities, we created a presentation that we were proud to share with our finalists. Pre-recording our virtual ceremony made it possible for youth and their families to access the video when it was convenient for them. It was published on wwww.youthcentral.com/yoda on June 6th and has been viewed 282 times since.
Volunteers and staff secured a few congratulatory videos from local celebrities to celebrate our finalists including: Andrew Phung (Kim’s Convenience), Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (Kim’s Convenience), Mark Tewskbury (gold medal swimmer, 1992 Olympics), and Mayor Naheed Nenshi. Finally, we were proud of the way staff came together to deliver all 27 gift bags and nine awards to our finalists and recipients in person, on June 6th.
Another significant change was adding another award category, for a total of nine. After consultation with current Youth Central volunteers, we learned that there was a desire to see a category that would acknowledge some of the innovative work youth are doing in Calgary. We added the Innovate category in January of 2020. We were thrilled to see nominations come in from dynamic areas including hackathons, fundraisers, and other community initiatives that had been previously missed by our other categories.
I am actually comfortable being referred to as a leader. I actually view myself as a leader. Whenever someone would say that each member in Youth Council was a leader, I would always shrug and say to myself “except for me.” I always thought a leader was someone who spoke loudly and with power, who had their head in the clouds, always reached for the brightest star. I was not that. I have learnt that there are many ways to be a leader, and that I can be a leader even if I am more quiet and down to earth, and I am quite okay with that.”
- Youth Volunteer
How does an organization that delivers volunteer and leadership opportunities for youth respond to a year like 2020? How do we empower youth to “find and build their communities” – Youth Central’s newly articulated mission – when our community has been transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic? What does participating in “shaping a vibrant community” entail in the year of Black Lives Matter?
Wrestling with these kinds of questions was the call to action of 2020 – work, I’m glad to report, that was undertaken this year with energy, humility and creativity by everyone who makes Youth Central possible. To our incredible staff, our inspiring youth volunteers, our board of directors, our generous supporters and donors, parents and guardians, and our schools – Thank you! We are grateful for all of the wonderful support we have received, which makes it possible for us to make a difference in Calgary.
Youth Central has prioritized the safety of our volunteers, while finding creative ways to keep them engaged. Through a year of social restrictions, Youth Central offered impactful volunteer and leadership opportunities, both virtual and in-person. Our staff embraced technology and solved problems to deliver programming while working from home. Partnerships were deepened and built.
Youth Central also planned for the future with a new mission that is broader and more inclusive of the important work we do and the strategic plan focused on:
Much more needs to be done as the pandemic continues. And the work of creating a more inclusive organization that is reflective and responsive to the diverse community we support is never done. Youth Central is ready and excited for 2021 because finding and building community has never been more important.
Chair, Board of Directors
The Youth Central Board of Directors is responsible for ensuring that the mission and vision of Youth Central are being fulfilled through strong leadership, effective planning, and sound fiscal management. Thank you to the Youth Central Board of Directors for their hard work, dedication, and enthusiasm.
Board Chair: Matt Grant – Manager Canadian Government Affairs, Enbridge Inc.
Vice Chair: Mathew Burpee, CA, CFA – Managing Director, Kepler Capital Corporation
Treasurer: Yisha Pang, CA – Specialist, Corporate Risk Control, Enbridge Inc.
Secretary: Julianne Rohel, CHRP – Strategic Human Resources Consultant
Michael Doerksen – Lawyer, Field LLP
Sarah Elder-Chamanara – CEO and Co-Founder, Madame Premier
Derek Fraser, CFRE – President, iDoPhilanthropy
Bryce Kapsha – Support Operations Lead, Benevity
Dean Koeller – President, Calvert Home Mortgage Investment Corporation
Jeff Lowe – Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, SMART Technologies
Elizabeth Lunney, CFA – Head of Portfolio Management, ATB Investment Management
Sarah Pervez – Principal Consultant, Community Voices Consulting Inc.
Henry Su – Chief of Staff, Embark Trucks
Arbour Lake Residents Association
Arusha Centre (Open Streets Calgary)
Auburn Bay Community Association
Auburn Bay Residents Association
Autism Calgary Association
Bethany Care Calgary
Bishop O’Byrne Housing Association
Bowness Community Association
Boys and Girls Club of Calgary
Braeside Community Association
Calgary & District Labour Council
Calgary Association of Skateboarding Enthusiasts
Calgary Earth Market Society
Calgary Scotiabank Marathon
Calgary United Games Association
Canadian Cancer Society
Canyon Meadows School Council
Capitol Hill Community Association
Catholic Family Service
Centre for Suicide Prevention Centre
Children’s Birthday Miracles
Closer to Home Community Services
Fairview Community Association
Festival Society of Marda Loop
Free Your Mind
Food for Peace
Friends of Fish Creek
Give a Mile
Heritage Park Historical Society
Hispanic Arts Society
HIV Community Link
Holy Trinity Anglican Church
Inn From the Cold
Intercare Corporate Group
L’Arche Association of Calgary
Mahogany HOA Volunteer Committee
Marda Loop Communities Association
Monterey Park Community Association
Moonlight Market Foundation
New Brighton Residents Association
Northstar Residents Association
Outrun The Stigma
Palliser Bayview Pump Hill Community Association
PARK (Promoting Artists Redefining Kulture)
Parkinson Society Canada-Alberta
Parks Foundation Calgary
Pineridge Community Association
Portail de L’immigrant Association
Prostate Cancer Canada
Ranchlands Community Association
Renfrew Community Association
Richmond Knob Hill Community Association
Rosanne Goetz Visual Communicaitons and Consulting
Rotary Club of Calgary East
Salvation Army Community Services Calgary
Sien Lok Society of Calgary
Signal Hill Community Association
Silvera for Seniors
Southfour Fastpitch Softball Association
Southwood Community Association
Strathcona Christie Aspen Community Association
Temple Community Association
The Shotokan Karate-do Association of Calgary
THIRD ACTion Film Festival
Touch Canada Broadcasting
Triwood Community Association
Twin Views Garden
United Way of Calgary and Area
Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society
West Hillhurst Community Association
Westgate Community Association
Whitehorn Community Association
Wildwood Community Association
WP Puppet Theatre
Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission; Family & Community Support Services (FCSS); The Calgary Foundation; Government of Canada under the Canada Service Corps
Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited; The Prosser Charitable Foundation
5th Avenue Building, Birdies for Kids, presented by AltaLink; Canada Life; Enbridge Inc.; Jessalyn Rohs, in memory of Adele Lytle and Christine Rohs; SMART Technologies; Werklund Foundation; Youth Volunteer Corps
Gibson Energy; Government of Canada – Canada Summer Jobs; J.W. McConnell Family Foundation; Kinette Club of Calgary; Penny Hume; Rotary Club of Calgary East
Al Duerr; Alan and Geri Moon; Alex Traxel; Allyson Phillips; Anonymous; Ashton Rudanec; Ben Sands; Bertha Taylor; Brian Rudneski; Blissful and Bridal; Blush and Raven; The Bridal Centre; Bryce Kapsha; Byron Neiles; Calgary Youth Foundation Fund – Youth Central at the Calgary Foundation; Calvert Home Mortgage Investment Corporation; Calvin Ziganash and Kate Hume; Cameo & Cufflinks; Canwest Productions Inc.; Carolyn and Lloyd Byers; Carscallen LLP; Chelsey Layden; Christi Harter; Community Natural Foods; ConocoPhillips Canada; Countryside Landscapes & Garden Centre; Cremers and Elliott Chartered Accountants; Danelle O’Dwyer; Danielle Bezeau; David Woodbury; Dawn Blomme; Dean Allatt; Dean Koeller; Derek Fraser; Di Vertz; Doug MacLeod; Dream Weddings – Bridal & Formal Wear; Durand Bridal; Elarbe Professional Services Inc.; Elizabeth Lunney; Elvine Wong; Enbridge Pipelines Employee Club; Erin Blender; Ever Active Schools; Fully Managed Inc.; Glori-Jeanne Stephenson; Harry & Martha Cohen Foundation; Henry Su; In Memory of Molly-May a Youth Central Honorary “Fur”ever Staff Member; Ingo Abresch; Jamie O’Brien; Jane Wu; Japman Bajaj; Jeff Lowe; Jemison Jackson; Jim Pasieka; Jo-Ella O’Neill; Jon-Scott Kohli; Julianne Rohel; Justin Smalley; Karen McKinnon; Kaylie Byford; Ken Lima-Coelho; Kim Rosebush; Kit Chan; Leandra Fraulin; Leticia Gutierrez; Lisa Kindree; Liz Butti; Lori Waslen; Lynn Berry; Mahogany Homeowners Association; Magda Galica-Huot; Maggie Chopra; Marc Brebber; Margaret Bertagnolli; Mark Pettigrew; Marketplace Events; Martinizing Dry Cleaning; Matco Financial Inc.; Mathew Burpee; Matt Grant; Matthew Lowe; Nicole Mfoafo-M’Carthy; Paige O’Neill; Patti Phelps; Pete The Plumber Ltd.; Peter Burpee; Purdy’s Chocolatier; RBC Foundation; Richard Lee-Thai; Ros Doi; Rosanne Goetz; Ryan Duerr; Sanchit Chopra; Sandra and John Hodgins; Sandstone Asset Management Inc.; Sarah Elder-Chamanara; Sarah Pervez; Satish Raj; Scott Townend; Social Venture Partners – Calgary; Stephen Guppy; Sunterra Market; Susan Church; Sylvia Galica-Casuncad; TD Bank Group; Terry Booth; Tracy Allen; Trung Bien; Tyler Butler; United Nations Association in Canada – Calgary Branch; Wayne Stewart; Wendel Business Machines Corp.; Wentao Li; Yisha Pang; 2020711 Alberta Ltd.