When 16-year-old Darien Piva decided to start a robotics club, he knew it would be expensive.
“If it was cheap, I wouldn’t have a problem,” Piva said with a laugh, standing next to his club mates who were on the floor fixing the arm of a small robotic rover they made.
Piva knew if he wanted his Real Virtuality Robotics club to continue to grow, he would need some cash. So he sent in a proposal to the Edmonton Community Foundation’s Young Edmonton Grants (Y-E-G) committee, hoping for an award of $500 to $3,000.
“We got the whole $3,000,” said Piva, “and it is quite a blessing having all of that. I would say almost that entire bot there was paid for with the $3,000.”
The Y-E-G program began in 2011, and has since distributed nearly $500,000 to 225 young people with great ideas in the Edmonton region.
Cassandra Lundell with the Edmonton Community Foundation says the grants program is meant to support youth leadership.
“This means the activities that can be supported through the program are wide-ranging – from organizing a local street dance, to initiating a career fair, or hosting workshops on topics like bullying, self-defense or civic engagement.”
Leadership in the eyes of the Y-E-G program doesn’t necessarily mean running for student council – it’s about 13 to 24-year-olds enhancing the community around them.
“We encourage young people to reach out to see how we might be able to help them through funding,” Lundell continued.
Lundell recommends applications be realistic, reasonable in cost and something that fosters youth leadership.
Having successfully secured the largest grant available, Piva also suggests highlighting what makes your idea different.
Other Y-E-G programs foster acceptance and understanding in their school community. Students at Sir George Simpson Junior High received a grant to start a touring Indigenous drumming circle club.
“It covers the cost for the travel, if it’s over the lunch time it will cover some of the lunches,” said Ryan Arcand, the club’s leader.
Though their grant was smaller, the impact it’s had is huge.
“What it does at a young age, it stops racism and the discrimination that we’re different,” Arcand explained, noting that three of the club members were not Indigenous.
“There’s a lot of negative press about ‘kids these days’ and we disagree,” said Lundell. “Through this program, we get to see all the creative and engaged young residents putting their ideas into action throughout the greater Edmonton area. It’s such a great program to learn about all the fun and engaging initiatives happening in our community that are being driven by 13 to 24-year-olds.”
There are three rounds of application deadlines each year. A full description of grant eligibility can be found here.