But beyond the support for the winning initiatives, the OCF has used the NLCC process to deepen its own knowledge and connections on the issue, and to experiment with new approaches to fulfil its commitment to inspire and support more collaborative, systemic and sustainable solutions.
A key example is the Youth Employment Workshop held in June of 2018. The OCF designed and delivered the workshop in partnership with the Ottawa Employment Hub (OEH) and the RBC Foundation, leveraging the tremendous research done by both these organizations on youth employment conditions and challenges.
The work and conversations prior to the event, and the structure of the workshop itself, were designed to support those working on the issue to share ideas and advice, and to collaborate to develop higher-impact initiatives. The event was attended by over 100 people representing a wide range of organizations and stakeholders from the public, private and philanthropic sectors including some who may be on the margins, but have the potential to play an important role.
Eight teams presented a short pitch on compelling initiatives to help youth who exit high school gain and maintain employment and/or stay on a good track to employment. The pitches were followed by two rounds of input from participants.
From those fruitful conversations, best practices were shared, new ideas emerged, and new alliances were formed. In addition, recognizing the potential in the initiatives and the investment needed to firm up partnerships and develop viable work plans, the three workshop hosts provided seed funding to five of the teams to help them develop their respective proposal.
One of the OCF’s goals for the workshop was to create a channel for the 2018 NLCC. In fact, two of the seed-funded proposals were chosen by an independent review committee to be NLCC finalists. One of them, Youth+, a new collaboration between the Ottawa Community Housing Foundation and Global Vision, was awarded the 2018 NLCC grant.
“This partnership is a game-changer for disadvantaged youth living in our city,” said Ian MacKichan, Development and Marketing Associate, with the Ottawa Community Housing Foundation. “By aligning the strengths of Global Vision and Youth Futures, we are able to realize new employment and career development opportunities, as a part of a sustainable platform.”
In addition, the OCF’s partnership with RBC Foundation carried through to the NLCC event itself. Because of the quality of all three NLCC finalists, the RBC Foundation committed in advance to ensure all would receive funding, significantly expanding the reach and impact of NLCC. These two additional projects are:
- Relay Education’s Green Collar Careers (GCC) is designed to help connect youth to a range of “green career” opportunities.
- Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre’s GeneratioNeXt Ward 13 is a bilingual employment and entrepreneurship incubation program offering services to youth aged 13 to 29 living in Ottawa’s east end.
The OCF is now working with the RBC, United Way, the OEH, and the Social Planning Council of Ottawa to establish a youth employment leadership table for Ottawa.
Long term solutions to youth unemployment in our city will only be successful if they are systemic and sustainable. And while we have years to go until this issue is solved, platforms like the youth employment workshop is an effective way to bring together known and new actors to work together to design and implement transformative projects that acknowledge and address the many factors that cause youth unemployment. These initiatives that are born of the NLCC, and the collaborative and systems-level thinking that the youth employment workshop supported, demonstrate that in Ottawa we are making real progress in improving employment opportunities for young people in our city.
If you would like to take action on youth employment, either by volunteering, donating or partnering to provide opportunities for training or on the job learning, please get in touch. We can help connect you to some passionate and very capable people who are making a difference here in Ottawa!
For more information:
Director, Grants and Community Knowledge
Ottawa Community Foundation
613-236-1616 ext. 222