United Way of Southern Vancouver Island is offering West Shore and Sooke youth $500 grants for projects that will improve their communities. (Black Press Media file photo)

United Way of Southern Vancouver Island is offering West Shore and Sooke youth $500 grants for projects that will improve their communities. (Black Press Media file photo)

West Shore, Sooke youth offered $500 grants from United Way to improve communities

The Youth in Action program is new this year, with applications due online by Dec. 3

United Way Southern Vancouver Island is inviting West Shore and Sooke youth to submit their pitches on what they would do in their community if they were given $500.

But not only is the organization asking the question, they’re also handing out the cash to make those ideas a reality.

It’s all part of a brand-new program called Youth in Action, which will dole out the grants to successful applicants in an effort to build communities and engage youth within them.

“The idea is we want to hear from youth, or agencies which work with youth, to find out what they would do to address a local issue or improve their community,” said spokesperson Jennifer Young. “Ideas could be anything. It could be for a spoken word project, an art project, a social cafe, anything.”

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While a similar 2014 program focused on the Hillside-Quadra neighbourhood of Victoria, Young said they decided to focus on the West Shore and Sooke areas with this project as they are among the fastest-growing regions and filled with families and youth.

Youth are a focus area for the United Way, said Young, and the project provides an interesting way to get youth involved in their communities.

“They are the next generation. We want to build strong communities as part of our mission at United Way, so this is a way to do that.”

With youth socialization being especially impacted by the pandemic, Young said the program could also serve as an opportunity to bring youth together once again.

Having launched the program in October, Young said the first application deadline is coming up on Dec. 3. Youth aged 11 to 16 looking to apply for a grant are encouraged to pitch something which will improve youth well-being in their school or community, address a need or social issue in the community and be supported by at least one adult ally, such as a teacher or adult mentor.

Strong applications should include an explanation of why the project is needed, have the potential to make a lasting impact on the school or community and provide an opportunity for youth to gain skills and knowledge.

Applications can be made online until Dec. 3, and anyone looking for more information on the project can email ci.fund@uwsvi.ca or by calling 250-220-7363.

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@JSamanski
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