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A closer look
What are your mission and vision?
Our goal is to equip young people with the skills and tools needed to become effective leaders in movements for social and environmental change.
What are the programs and services offered by your organization?
We offer a 7-month program in five cities across Canada, in which 18-32 year-old social and environmental change leaders have the opportunity to learn more about issues, build skills, and grow their networks. In the 7-month program, a group of 10-16 participants, selected from a larger pool of applicants, and they meet for one evening weekly, and one full day monthly, usually with outside guests who present on a wide variety of topics and skills.
This summer in Saskatoon we are piloting a different version of the program, which we may use in other locations and circumstances, depending on the results. We are offering a five-day intensive version of the program that is more accessible for parents, people in remote locations and others for whom the 7-month program may be inaccessible. This intensive program is being offered specifically to First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth in Saskatchewan in an effort to further our outreach in Indigenous communities. We will hold a focus group after the program ends to obtain participants’ input on how we can best support young Indigenous social change leaders going forward.
Whom do you serve/target with your programs and services?
Our programming is offered to 18-32 year-olds, and we seek to attract a diverse group of young people to the program including but not limited to indigenous people, LGBTQ people, people of lower socio-economic status, people of colour, newcomers to Canada and people with disabilities.
What are you working on right now?
The summer program for young indigenous social change leaders runs from July 9 – 13, 2014 and that has our full attention right now. Soon after, we will begin preparing for the 7-month program which begins again on September 28th. The 2014-15 application deadline for the 7-month program will be September 5, 2014.
Do you have a call for volunteers, fundraising, resources, submissions or other?
We are currently seeking organizational funders for 2014-15 and have an ongoing search for monthly donors. People can sign up as donors on our website at www.nextup.ca. We will be issuing our call for applications for 2014-15 in the first two weeks of July.
What is one thing people may not know about your organization?
Most people are not aware of the scope of our program each year: over 50 presenters come in as guests in over 35 sessions each year in our 7-month program.
Please share a story that illustrates your organization’s impact in the community.
Max FineDay was a participant in Next Up during its first year in Saskatchewan. After completing the program, he became involved in student politics and is now serving his second term as USSU president.
“I likely wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t gone through the Next Up program,” said Max. “It gave me the skills to enact change in my community and I want others to have the same opportunity.”
Max saw the benefits that the program could have for participants and for the community, so he proposed holding a program specifically for indigenous young people. His idea kick-started the Next Up program this summer for young First Nations, Métis and Inuit social change leaders, which he is co-coordinating.
Another fan of Next Up is Melissa Gan. In the summer of 2012 after completing the Next Up program, she was so committed to supporting future participants that she invited people to watch her have her head shaved in support of Next Up. People were able to make donations at the event, paying $1 to snip a chunk of her hair, and putting money into jars based on which design they thought she should have shaved on her head. The jar with the most money at the end of the night was the design Melissa ended up with. The final design: Melissa had a pair of glasses and a mustache on her otherwise bald head and Next Up was the beneficiary of the $1000 raised.
What types of challenges does your organization face?
We are a small organization trying to catalyze big changes. Our program supports young leaders who are often challenging the status quo, and therefore not everyone wants to support us. We have trouble recruiting young men for the program and sometimes have trouble recruiting as diverse a group of participants as we would like.