Rural Dividend Fund Supports Expansion of Youth Entrepreneurship
Programming to Northern BC
Access to entrepreneurial education for Indigenous and rural communities
May 17, 2018, Vancouver, BC — Young Entrepreneur Leadership Launchpad (YELL), a registered Canadian charity equipping young leaders for an increasingly uncertain future, is a recent recipient of $ 259,390 in funding from the Province of BC’s Rural Dividend Program. In partnership with School District 91 (SD91), which services the Nechako Lakes region and four high schools, and with support from community partners such as Futurpreneur, a national NPO providing early stage resources, mentorship, and financing to startup entrepreneurs aged 18-39, YELL will begin offering its for-credit Entrepreneurship 12 course to 30 students from rural and Indigenous communities starting September 2018.
Through a network of educators, partners, and mentors, YELL delivers educational programs for students in Grades 10-12, exposing them to the stories, skills, ideas, and technologies that have the potential to radically change their futures. The funding will provide for remote delivery of the course via live streaming to multiple satellite locations and will ensure students have transportation to their rural and reserve communities.
The Rural Dividend Fund provides $25 million a year to assist rural communities with a population of 25,000 or less to reinvigorate and diversify their local economies. It was developed to recognize both the contribution rural communities have made to B.C.’s economy, and the unique challenges they face to diversify beyond natural resources. The program is focused on supporting worthy projects that help rural communities navigate changes impacting their economies, such as attracting and retaining youth, using innovation to drive economic growth, and developing new and effective partnerships to support shared prosperity. The Rural Dividend Fund is administered by the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
Vanderhoof District Mayor Gery Thiesen noted ‘This is a great commitment to rural communities and we are thankful for the chance to have SD 91 being able to take the lead on this. Young people in rural communities have the same desire as youth in larger centres, and there are times I believe they are more innovative in some areas. This funding will allow for our education to be more proactive and hopefully we will see some of our youth come back to our area as adults, just because they have access to opportunity.”
The year-long course sees real-world entrepreneurs and mentors from the community visiting the classroom to share their experiences, failures and successes with students who, as a result develop their entrepreneurial thinking, a skill BC employers are increasingly looking for when hiring new staff. As part of the course, student teams undergo a lean startup process of developing and validating an innovative business idea of their choice with the support of a volunteer business mentor from their local community. Alumni of the program in past years have come up with cutting edge ways to address loneliness in seniors, women’s safety, local food security, education & training, underutilized assets in their community, new technologies, & more.
Brooklynn Klassen, a Grade 9 student and applicant to the YELL program in Burns Lake stated “I have some ideas that I would like to bring up that might one day make the world a better place. I would like to hear experiences from people in my community… and the struggles they may have had. This program sounds really interesting and is something I am very interested in pursuing.” Illyra Hill, a Grade 10 student and applicant to the program added “ever since I was a child I have always wanted to create my own business…this course will open my eyes to the world of business within my local community, and cities around the area. This is a big opportunity to learn new things not only about life but, about the world we live in. This is an opportunity that I don’t want to miss out on.”
“We look forward to bringing our course which offers skills for 21st century careers and entrepreneurial opportunities to students in the Nechako Lakes region,” said David Cameron, Executive Director of YELL Canada. “Our mandate is to deliver our programming to all BC students regardless of where they live” added Cameron. “The decision to fund this program shows a real commitment by the BC province to ensure youth in rural and northern communities get equal access to learning and development opportunities that will help them thrive in the changing and dynamic economy we see today.”
Eugene Marks, Superintendent of Schools and Chief Executive Officer of School District 91 said ”As a School District we have a long history of working in partnership with the community to provide hands on learning opportunities for our students. In looking at the breadth and depth of our projects we saw an opportunity to bring a unique offering in entrepreneurial thinking to our students and are thankful for the partnership that has developed with YELL that will allow our students to connect with local and provincial mentors as they seek to develop that entrepreneurial mindset. This is not just about learning how to start a business or create the next successful app. While that will be a part of what is learned, what we are really focusing on is developing that positive, creative problem solving mindset that is so valuable in any career today. The course will include live-streaming of speakers so students in multiple locations can engage with the business leader who is presenting.”
The course culminates in a Dragons’ Den-like Venture Challenge where student groups from schools across BC convene and pitch their business idea to investors and entrepreneurs. This year YELL’s Venture Challenge will take place in Vancouver on May 14th, with over 40 high school teams pitching to investors and a keynote address from the Right Honourable, David Johnston, 28th Governor General of Canada, whose legacy includes helping to create a culture of innovation and excellence in Canada. 50 high school students from SD 91 will be making the trek down to Vancouver to participate in the event and prepare for the launch of the YELL program later this fall. https://canadianinnovationspace.ca/
About YELL Canada
Founded by three Canadian entrepreneurs passionate about developing a program that could reach high school students across the country, YELL reaches students in over 60 high schools in Metro Vancouver and Northern BC and has over 750 graduates. The program is a hands-on, experiential accelerator for high school students interested in gaining knowledge and developing experience in all areas of business and entrepreneurship. YELL equips youth with entrepreneurial thinking skills, exposes them to disruptive technologies, gives them real-world experience to accelerate their careers and studies, and connects the to supporting networks of local leaders and entrepreneurs who visit their classrooms. YELL uses a community based framework to enhance innovation and provides a learning and development environment that invests in young minds and creates experience beyond our years. To learn more visit www.yellcanada.org
For further information please contact:
Farrah Jinha, Communications Advisor
firstname.lastname@example.org / cell -604-616-7687 or
David Cameron, Executive Director
email@example.com / cell – 778-808-4641
Manu Madhok, Assistant Superintendent | firstname.lastname@example.org
250-567-2284 (c) 250-996-1025
Sagar Saxena, Community Engagement and Partnerships Officer
email@example.com Cell – (778) 349-5523