I have recently had the opportunity to meet two incredible young leaders. Jessica McClure (@Jess_McClure) and Spencer Kenyon (@SpencerKenyon) are both entering second year and taking business/finance at Huron College. These two leaders came up with an idea and decided to spend their summer incubating a new nonprofit organization.
At 19 and 20 years old (respectively), they are both working full-time summer jobs to help pay for school, and in their spare time they are creating “Connecting YOUth” a new local nonprofit that with match grades 9 and 10 students with mentors from the community who will help them on their intended career path.
“Connecting YOUth plans to launch a pilot program starting in January 2013 at Beal Secondary School”, says McClure. “By Year 3, Connecting YOUth plans to have programming in multiple high schools within London and increase programming up to Grade 12.”
Their ambition and passion is contagious. They have already worked with the Small Business Centre to craft their professional business plan, they have spoken before city council at July’s investment and economic prosperity council, and have created a self-funded website with video that I recommend everyone see (connectingyouth.ca).
When asked why they would do this, Kenyon says, “Dreams are seen as being abstract ideas, which they are. But if you can take a dream and make it a goal why wouldn’t we take that opportunity? We do this because we can help student’s live the life they’ve always wanted to.”
As an organization that will be heavily reliant on volunteers they need many of us to get involved. “As a mentor based program, Connecting YOUth is always welcoming of people interested in getting involved”, says McClure.
Older student volunteers will help the participating students by sharing past course choices, insights on managing academics with extracurricular activities, and advice on things they would do differently if they could start over.
Professionals will help students by sharing information about their qualifications, education they attained, and what their daily job entails.
Kenyon and McClure believe that by getting first-hand information from people in their chosen profession, students will finish school, build a network to stay in London after they graduate and become strong, active citizens in our community … just what London is hoping for.