For Immediate Release – June 21, 2021
WATERLOO – How do you connect with your community? Your friends? For many, feeling connected through the pandemic is a challenge. Although the SVP Teens program pivoted to all-online meetings and fundraisers for 2020-21, it’s remained a space in our community for youth aged 12-18 to make new friends, learn about our community, and work together to drive social change.
SVP Teens, a program of Social Venture Partners Waterloo Region, brings together some of the region’s most passionate youth to identify issues in our community and work towards solving them. Every month, students from sixteen schools across our region meet virtually to hear from guest speakers, share volunteer opportunities, and create fundraisers to support their yearly SVP Teens Community Grant.
This dedicated group of young leaders have exceeded all expectations, and worked together to fundraise the highest grant amount in the SVP Teens’ program history.
With support from adult mentors, the Teens lead their own grant application and selection process each spring. This June, SVP Teens awarded the $6,500 Teens Community Grant to Bereaved Families of Ontario – Midwestern Region, a Kitchener-based charity providing peer support to bereaved families, children and individuals in Waterloo Region, Guelph, and Wellington County.
SVP Teens’ Co-Chair Nathan Wong shares that “as we close off a busy year, it is important for us not to lose sight of why this program exists. Through all of the big grants, meetings, and fundraisers the biggest thing we want teens to remember is the impact their actions have on others. Hearing the presentation from Bereaved Families of Ontario was sobering but also inspiring. We were heartbroken hearing about young children whose lives were turned upside down, but it was inspiring in that it helped us to connect a meaningful purpose to the months of fundraising and planning, particularly after we saw and heard about the careful consideration in Bereaved Families’ Healing Little Hearts program and the healing effect it was already showing.”
Despite isolation, despite Zoom fatigue, these young leaders show that by working together, we can make a difference in our community. Theirs is a hopefulness based in thoughtful action that has inspired support from local funders. We are incredibly proud to share that the United Way Waterloo Region Communities (United Way WRC) and Astley Family Foundation have stepped forward to provide core programming support for SVP Teens through 2021-22.
United Way WRC’s CEO, Joan Fisk, shares: “The opportunity to support SVP Teens made sense to us because it allows United Way to help support the development of future leaders. These teens are learning about social issues and charitable giving in ways many of us don’t have the opportunity to and these experiences are only going to help the sector as these youth grow into caring adults.”
“We are incredibly grateful to Astley Family Foundation and United Way WRC for their dedicated support of SVP Teens,” notes SVP Teens Program Manager Jill Mills. “Moving forward into the 2021-2022 cohort of SVP Teens with secured funding gives us the stability to confidently put our energy into building amazing programming and continued success for a highly valuable youth program in Waterloo Region.”
About Social Venture Partners Waterloo Region
Through engaged philanthropy, SVPWR builds relationships between people who want to give back and the charities who make change possible. Since launching in 2010, SVPWR has turned $550,000 of grants into $3.5M+ of support for ten Waterloo Region charities, and connected 100+ community builders through volunteer projects & events.
About United Way Waterloo Region Communities
United Way Waterloo Region Communities is dedicated to helping people live better lives in every one of the seven communities we serve. We are fundraisers and local community builders that support a network of agencies whose programs and services are locally focused, informed, connected, and deeply invested in helping people reach their full potential.
Rose Greensides, Executive Director, Social Venture Partners Waterloo Region
519-772-4590, ext. 1 | email
Hilary McCann, Senior Director, Marketing & Communications, United Way WRC
519-888-6100 ext. 226 | email