75 Moments: How Youth Works is helping young people kickstart a brighter future

youth studying

Thanks to the incredible support and tireless commitment of our donor community, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada recently announced the achievement of our $75 million Stand Up for Kids: Futures Transformed campaign goal — one year early!

With $76.5 million raised since 2019, we have been able to positively impact the lives of more than 119,100 children, youth and families involved with the child welfare system.

To celebrate this remarkable milestone, and the extension of our campaign goal to $100 million, we’re taking 75 days to highlight 75 moments of generosity and impact from the past four years. This is one of those moments.

In honour of World Youth Skills Day, which celebrates the importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, we’re taking a look at the incredible impact of Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada’s Youth Works Program. Youth Works is an innovative pre-employment development program made possible thanks to generous contributions from RBC and Government of Canada, Youth Employment and Skills Strategy / Stratégie emploi et compétences jeunesse and State Street Foundation.

Designed to help youth transitioning out of care gain the skills, knowledge, and opportunities they need to reach their career goals, the program provides a wide range of supports — from access to employability skills training to internships and job placements to wraparound supports that help youth maintain employment over the long term.

Launched in 2017, Youth Works is currently being delivered in partnership with six child- and youth-serving agencies across Canada.

Its impact has been significant. Since its launch, more than 2,100 young people in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick have participated in Youth Works — and more than 92% said they achieved what they wanted to through the program.

According to the Foundation’s program evaluation, an incredible 60% of youth who engaged with Youth Works successfully secured employment upon exiting the initiative, with analysis showing that the longer young people remain engaged with Youth Works, the more likely they are to become employed.

What’s more, the vast majority of participants — 75% — said Youth Works helped them feel more knowledgeable about the resources and supports available, more prepared to enter the workforce, more motivated to achieve their career goals, and more optimistic about the future.

As one participant told us, “I loved the opportunity to refine my skills in different areas. The internship forced me to step out of my comfort zone and diversify my skills and knowledge.” 

Another noted that “the program helped me stay focused on my career goals and plan ahead,” while another said that Youth Works helped them “connect with important people in the social work industry and expand my network.”

Designed to fill a critical gap for youth transitioning out of care

Youth Works began taking shape in 2015 in response to feedback from students supported through the Post-Secondary Education Program, the Young People’s Advisory Council, and our national network of child- and youth-serving agencies.

 They told us that although scholarship and bursary support for post-secondary education is invaluable, far too many young people transitioning out of care face a gap when it comes to building the specific skills and training they need to reach their career goals, including through internships and job placements.

With funding secured, the Foundation launched a pilot program to embed specialized staff in select child- and youth-serving agencies. These staff members were dedicated to helping young people gain the knowledge and connections they need to gain meaningful employment. 

Learnings from this initial pilot program allowed the Foundation to refine the program model, leading to the formal launch of Youth Works in 2017.

A core part of our commitment to helping young people from care successfully navigate the challenging transition to stability and independence, Youth Works is making a world of difference for those it serves and creating a ripple effect of impact that will be felt for generations to come.

We are deeply grateful to RBC, Government of Canada, Youth Employment and Skills Strategy / Stratégie emploi et compétences jeunesse and State Street Foundation for their generous contributions to launch and sustain Youth Works, and to our entire community of donors for helping to make initiatives like Youth Works possible. Thank you!