Students of the Victoria High Vital Youth Program at a ceremony celebrating their accomplishments at the Baumann Centre for Pacific Opera Victoria Wednesday.

Students of the Victoria High Vital Youth Program at a ceremony celebrating their accomplishments at the Baumann Centre for Pacific Opera Victoria Wednesday.

Program encourages students to give back to local charities

Dozens of students from several schools in Greater Victoria are making a difference in the Victoria Foundation's Vital Youth Program.

Dozens of students from several schools in Greater Victoria are making a difference in their community through a program that encourages students to give back to smaller, less recognized charities.

The Victoria Foundation’s Vital Youth Program aims to engage students in philanthropy by giving them the opportunity to decide which local charities to give grants to.

Each year, the foundation provides $3,000 grants for each participating school — $500 of which is added to an endowment in the school’s name, while students get to research and decide which charity to donate the remaining $2,500.

“Students start by going through a Vital Signs Report, doing some research and really learning more about their community and what organizations are working in the issue areas that they are interested in. Something that benefits the community as a whole and something that’s in the students’ own communities and neighbourhoods,” said Sasha Gronsdahl, community initiatives coordinator with the foundation.

This year, more than 75 students from Belmont, Frances Kelsey, Reynolds, Oak Bay, Parkland and Victoria high schools as well as and St. Michael’s University participated in the program.

Victoria High student Lilly Powell said the seven-month-long process of deciding which charity was the most challenging for the nine-team group before they eventually settled on the Victoria Women’s Transition House Society.

“We chose it because we were going through the Vital Signs Report and we noticed that the only thing that got a C+ was youth, homelessness and housing,” said the Grade 12 student. “We came across the youth specific programs of the [society]. We can gave half to the upkeep because they haven’t had renovations in a really long time and the other half to specifically the youth-related programs.

“I was learning a lot about some of the things that were happening in Victoria that I had never heard about before and it inspired me to get more involved because there’s so much happening that not a lot of people know about.”

Grade 11 student John Cook is one of 10 youth at St. Michael’s University involved in this year’s program. They close the Victoria Therapeutic Riding Association, a charity Cook has strong connections with.

“My sister actually went through the program there and I saw just how much it helped her and the changes it made to her life and how much more she’s able to do because of it. That was a huge reason for me,” said Cook.

“It’s been an emotional process going through the program and seeing how much people need in Victoria and being able to feel like you’re actually helping through this process.”

Kevin Cook, director of service at St. Michael’s, said the end of high school is a crucial time to instill philanthropic values in students.

“It’s so crucial at this stage when you have Grade 11s and 12s who are figuring out what philanthropy is about. It’s huge and they carry on with it through the rest of their lives,” he said.

Some of the other grant recipients include Out of the Rain Youth Shelter, the Sierra Club, Cowichan Women Against Violence Society, Cowichan Search and Rescue, Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island, Umbrella Society for Addictions and Mental Health and Extreme Outreach Society.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow, a kitten belonging to a Victoria family, was rescued by firefighters on Thursday after she got stuck in a basement drain pipe. (City of Victoria/Twitter)
Victoria kitten stuck in basement drain pipe rescued by firefighters

Willow the cat on the mend, owner feeling ‘enormous gratitude’

(Black Press Media file photo)
Blue-green algae bloom confirmed in Elk Lake, water-based activities not recommended

Blue-green algae can be lethal to dogs, cause health issues for humans

Victoria police arrested a man Jan. 15 after he rammed his minivan into an occupied police vehicle. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria man arrested for ramming minivan into occupied police vehicle

Man caught after fleeing, crashing into cement retaining wall

Mayor Rob Martin and Costa Canna president Phil Floucault cut the ribbon on Colwood’s first cannabis retail store. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Cowichan Tribes’ Costa Canna cannabis store opens in Colwood

Cowichan Tribes has one-year deal to grow, sell cannabis

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Most Read