CCS was awarded two $1,000 grants recently – and it was as straightforward as simply talking about CCS’ longstanding commitment to the greater good with some thoughtful students from a catholic secondary school in Etobicoke.

The kids then took care of the rest.

Whoever said “talk was cheap”?

The grants were awarded under the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI), a private foundation based in Toronto. Each year, YPI makes grants to community-based social services’ charities, with the winners determined by GTA students in a school-based youth philanthropy project. The idea is to strengthen support around pressing needs by empowering young people to determine where grant dollars would be best put to use in their respective communities.

Students are split into teams to research and analyze local charities. Once they’ve identified one they think best addresses key social issues, they then contact the charity to find out more.

CCS was one of the organizations chosen and was contacted in the spring by a team from a grade ten religion class at Michael Power-St. Joseph High School. Darcy Bonner, CCS’ associate director of fund development and external relations, gladly agreed to talk to them. The interview took about 45 minutes over Zoom with four students taking turns asking questions to gather the information they needed to make their assessment.

Telling the CCS Story

“The kids were really well prepared; the questions were thoughtful. They were interested in our longevity — that we’ve been around since 1954 — and curious about our history of helping waves of newcomers and refugees through the decades,” Darcy said.

About a month later, Darcy got a call from another team in the competition, who also asked to speak to him about CCS’ work and another video-conference call was conducted. Again, the questions were substantive and well-researched.

“I was thrilled to speak to another student from Michael Power-St. Joseph and have the opportunity to tell our story again,” he said.

Normally at this point in the competition, the teams share what they have learned with their peers through classroom presentations. The top teams then advance to the school’s YPI Final, where a peer-led panel of judges selects one team to win a $5,000 grant for the charity they represented.

However, the grant-making process was adapted this year with schools offered the flexibility to spread their grant allocation more evenly among competing teams. This way, they could prioritize getting funding to as many local charities as possible, thereby widening the scope of available services to address acute needs brought on by the pandemic.

Young Leaders Driving Community Development

We were pleased to see both the teams we spoke to emerge as finalists and get credit for their hard work! It was gratifying to be recognized for our work too, as well as help the students understand the challenges newcomers face, and that creating more compassionate and connected communities ultimately rests on their engagement as young leaders.

YPI was established in 2002 by the Toskan Casale Foundation, the original Canadian creators of MAC Cosmetics. Over the past eighteen years, YPI has grown into a worldwide social service program that has directed over $17 million in grants to charities across Canada and internationally. To learn more about the organization, please visit their website at: