Youth Project Design


Two years ago, the Ending Poverty and Literacy priorities of the CYN came together around a goal: to support more of London’s young people to graduate from secondary school. This work was funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and Youth CI (Innoweave) under collective impact granting streams.

To better understand this challenge, a team of young people was hired to go out and engage young people from across the community to understand the challenges with which young people are faced. Through this process, the YPD initiative engaged with almost 700 young people across our community. A theory of change was developed about the ways in which it would be possible to support more of London’s young people to graduate from secondary school.

The second phase of this work went back out into the community and engaged in a pressure testing exercise, making sure that what we interpreted from the opinions of young people was in fact correct. The London Youth Advisory Council worked with a team of young people and conducted several deep dive interviews with students who had experienced direct challenges in high school and had either seriously considered not completing high school, or who had actually gone through the experience of dropping out.


What we heard loud and clear from young people was that their educational success was often dependant on having a trusted adult mentor in their lives that had the knowledge to successfully connect them to the right resources in the community. The London Youth Advisory Council brought forward a recommendation that the CYN look to create “a group of Local Youth Advocates that work with young people, in-schools, to ensure that they receive the support, have their rights respected, and experience positive referrals to necessary services.”

Building from this idea, the CYN Ending Poverty and Literacy priorities would like to move forward on a collective impact project to develop a training program to teach individuals in our community that work with young people about how to be a positive mentor in a young person’s life. A young person in crisis will reach out to a trusted adult in their lives, and we will never be able to predict who that adult is. This approach recognizes that in order to provide the best level of support to young people, a system of wrap-around supports must be created to support those working with young people about how to be a caring adult. It is important that those who work with young people in our community are able to understand that they have a critical role to play in supporting our young people and that their response to a young person in crisis has the potential to make a huge difference in a young person’s life.

To support this training, it is also critical to explore the ways it is possible to connect people in our community to the relevant resources, so that they can not only serve as a support person, but have access to the knowledge to navigate young people to the right place. This work will engage in an enhanced gap analysis to understand the challenging questions students across high schools in London are asking. The Thames Valley District School Board and London District Catholic school board have demonstrated strong interest in this project and within the next week, the boards will share whether they will be able to participate in this project, providing their approval for researchers on this project to connect with guidance counsellors from both boards to understand the challenges with which students are faced.

The end goal of this work is to create a training module that is supported by a community resource hub that will provide enhanced connection to programs in services that are available in our community, framed by the experiences and relevant questions of young people. We are hoping that this tool will become a resource to all members of the community, providing resources in a way that our community currently does not have.


With the initial research and framing of the issue complete, the CYN is looking to enter the next phase of the collective impact grant with OTF and Youth CI. Funding for this project will be up to $145,000 over the next 6 months with the intention of applying to the third phase of collective impact with the completion of this stage. The final phase of the collective impact grant may provide up to $600,000 to support the implementation and roll out of this work.


  • Development of ‘Youth Mentorship’ training for individuals work with young people
  • Collaboration with community partners in key sectors to develop training component
  • Literature Review to understand similar programs that exist
  • Gap analysis to understand the challenging questions young people are asking
  • Preliminary development of community resource hub and the types of resources that should be made available through the hub

Contact information: Jennifer Smith