Meet 23-year old University of Waterloo student, Arielle Grinberg, from Toronto, Ontario. Arielle started The Youth Connection after a family trip to Mexico. Today, they currently operate out of the University of Waterloo, Windsor, and Western and have branches opening in Laurier, York, Ryerson and they are looking for more. Read her amazing and inspiring story below:
How did your organization form?
I started The Youth Connection when I was 18, after going to Mexico with my family for vacation. We witnessed children selling trinkets and newspapers in the touristic areas during the day, rather than being in school. It made me so concerned that I decided to do a little investigating and volunteered as an English teacher at one of the schools. There I learned that most children have to drop out of school in order to generate an income for themselves and their families. This really opened my eyes; to me, education has always been something that is a right of passage. Seeing children my own age and younger not have access to education turned my world upside down. It was one thing to read about it, but another to witness it in person. From there I made it my personal mission to help these at-risk children learn to use the power of education to change their lives. With a quality education, children have the ability to not only improve their own lives but their communities as well. I took this notion back home with me, where I established The Youth Connection as a registered charity. I then began to create clubs around different universities and spread the message to my peers. Many hard-working students around Ontario now fundraise to give educational necessities to at-risk children in Mexico. When we hand out these supplies in Mexico, we also ensure to create connections and bonds with these children to let them know they’re not alone. While handing out supplies, we also give talks about the importance of education and staying in school.
What is your organization and what’s your position?
The Youth Connection, CEO & Founder
What does your organization do?
We’re currently operating at the University of Waterloo, Windsor and Western, and have branches opening in Laurier, York, Ryerson and more! The goal of The Youth Connection is to fundraise to give educational necessities to at-risk youth in Mexico. Unfortunately, most of the children in Mexico have to drop out of school to generate an income in order to support themselves and their families. But, each year when we complete our mission by visiting these schools, we also instill the importance of the power of education. We make sure that they understand that with a quality education, they have the power to improve their lives and their communities!
Who are your organizations demographic?
Students! We are a completely student-run charity. Since students autonomously run their own clubs to host fundraising events and awareness events, they are gaining critical skills and experience which will aid them with their future career pursuits. We offer them mentorship, guidance and more to help them successfully run these clubs. We also provide them with networking events where they can meet people in graduate schools or people in the workforce, and learn how to achieve their dreams. Additionally, we hold workshops that teach important skills such as leadership, communication, time management, etc., as well as workshops that teach professional skills (networking, resume writing, personal branding, etc) so that they can become better navigators of the professional world.
How important is teamwork in your organization?
Teamwork is so important because The Youth Connection is completely run by teams. Each of the branches have the same goal, but we wouldn’t succeed without each and every one of our hard-working, dedicated and amazing students!
Where are you based? How can other people get involved with your organization?
The Youth Connection is officially based in Toronto, but we have branches all across Ontario. Currently, we are operating in the University of Waterloo, Windsor and Western but we’re opening branches in Laurier, York, Ryerson, UofT and more!
Do you have any upcoming events?
Yes! We have an upcoming Skills Summit for all TYC members in September 2019. Students will have the opportunity to meet each other and mingle with branches, have fun during our relay race and scavenger hunt, learn more about TYC and what we do, participate in skill-building workshops and activities, and network with professionals working in various fields!