Impact Toolbox is thrilled to announce the second round of the Future Founders Fellowship (F3) and introduce this year’s future founder. F3 is creating a formidable league of young social change leaders by allowing them to work on a social change project as a team while learning about leadership, entrepreneurship and digital skills.
This year we identified and recruited fellowship participants through the Sustainable Development Challenge (SDC). We had the privilege, alongside other social change-minded organizations like Interior Savings, GEECO, and the City of Kelowna, amongst others, to invest in the development of tomorrow’s leaders – Okanagan youth – by sponsoring the Sustainable Development Challenge (SDC), an Okanagan-based competition, that offers a platform for students in Grade 8 to Grade 12 to directly address an issue they care about, and contribute to achieving one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Secondary school students form teams and, with the support of a teacher, submit their ideas to the SDC and develop their projects to compete for a grand prize.
Not only was it inspiring to hear the ideas of the registered teams at the first mentoring night, but our team was also positively challenged and excited to see where their projects would take these passionate youth.
An innovative professor from Okanagan College, Danielle Robinson, was introducing her sustainable management class to mentorship, so Impact Toolbox helped train her students as they partnered with the SDC teams to exchange ideas and provide constructive feedback. At the same time, Impact Toolbox enrolled the SDC participants in its Sustainable Development Challenge Preparatory Course, an online course specifically curated for the SDC. Indeed, the community’s shared interest in the teams’ success was undeniable.
The Sustainable Development Challenge ended on Thursday, February 23rd, where the top 6 teams pitched their projects to an audience consisting of a panel of judges. Brilliant ideas were shared, as each group presented an issue they were concerned about and solutions to mitigate it. The youngest team, Project Miniforest, won the challenge, receiving the grand prize of $5,000.
This is a team of students in Grades 6 to 8, all members of the Better World Club at Willowstone Academy, who are passionate about restoring the biodiversity of trees to the Okanagan region of British Columbia, Canada. Jamie Stevens, their committed teacher, leads Project Miniforest. They want to contribute to the United Nations’ global goal 15: Life on Land, Project Mini Forests by spreading awareness for local plants and animals in the Okanagan through a project awareness campaign, which will include planting events. Project Mini Forests wants people to know how important plants are for our environment, a healthier community and how they impact biodiversity.
As we celebrate the winning team, we are happy to welcome them into the Future Founders Fellowship (F3), Impact Toolbox’s program that trains teenagers in Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Digital skills. The F3 is a highly adaptable program that recognizes that passion and resilience are strengths that youth possess. Harnessing those strengths, we come with our wealth of expertise and walk side-by-side with each program cohort, asking, “How can we support you?” then we customize our recommendations accordingly. By working closely with Project Miniforest, we will provide the technical and coaching support needed to execute their 3-part solution – Public Awareness, Fund Raising, and Community Planting Events. You can follow them on Instagram @betterworldclub_kelowna to stay updated with their progress and find ways to support their admirable work.
We are also pleased to welcome a finalist team from Kelowna Secondary School, “Stop the Stigma!” a group of students in grades 11 and 12 contributing to the United Nations’ global goal 10. Though they did not win the SDC, our team could not dismiss the zeal with which they presented the plight of unhoused youths in Kelowna and spoke about the stigma associated with being unhoused. Recognizing that passion is already half the work, we had to connect with them! Their project entails telling real-life stories from unhoused people online to raise awareness, especially among youth, and reduce the stigma associated with homelessness and its consequences.
As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. It is our sincere belief that these young humans will change the world. They are today’s leaders, and it is truly a privilege for us to do this alongside them.