Coast Capital marks Youth Week by spotlighting community investments in young British Columbians

Surrey, B.C. – May 7, 2015 - Coast Capital Savings is marking Youth Week by sharing how the organization made a positive contribution to young British Columbians last year through community investments of $5.7 million, primarily to youth-oriented programs.

The credit union helped young British Columbians in four key areas, providing $936,000 for youth mental health initiatives, $1.7 million to help youth establish family and social connections, $1.8 million to support young people in formal or informal education and $863,000 for youth financial literacy.

“Youth week is an appropriate occasion for Coast Capital Savings to reaffirm its community investment promise to build a richer future for youth in our communities,” said Don Coulter, Coast Capital Savings president and CEO. “We demonstrated this commitment last year by funding several initiatives in critical areas of need, allowing us to make a difference in the lives of British Columbia youth.”

Some organizations and youth-oriented programs that benefited from Coast Capital community investments last year included the following:

  • Victoria Hospitals Foundation and Island Health’s mental health and substance use program received more than $260,000 for the development of the BoosterBuddy mental health app.
  • Junior Achievement of British Columbia’s Dollars with Sense program was granted more than $600,000 (over a three year partnership) for delivery of the organization’s financial literacy curriculum to almost 30,000 youth in schools across B.C. over the life of the partnership.
  • Sauder School of Business Centre for Social Innovation and Impact Investing received $1 million to support young social venture entrepreneurs through the Coast Capital Savings Innovation Hub.
  • Canadian Red Cross was the recipient of more than $20,000 to implement the Beyond the Hurt violence and abuse prevention program in B.C. high schools.

Jason Tate, 21, was part of a youth design team assembled by Island Health to brainstorm ideas for the innovative BoosterBuddy app. The app uses an interactive video game interface to help youth overcome mental health challenges in areas including coping skills, initiating tasks, self-care routines and socialization.

“Our input really helped decide what it should look like and what it should do,” said Tate. “We essentially shaped every aspect of the app, including the contents, the themes for the characters, and even the layout.”

Coulter said this kind of leadership and involvement by youth in determining the programs that benefit them is an integral part of Coast Capital’s for youth by youth community investment model. The model is driven by Young Leaders Community Councils—groups of youth made up of Coast Capital employees and community representatives—who are tasked with disbursing Coast Capital’s community grants.

“Youth Week reminds us that it’s important to empower and give a voice to young people. At Coast Capital, we do this by turning over community investment decisions to young leaders who are genuinely connected to their community and its needs,” Coulter said. “Members of our Young Leaders Councils get a great opportunity to serve their peers while developing valuable executive skills that will benefit them in future.”

Maggie Kong, a member of the Young Leaders Councils, was involved in the decision to award a Coast Capital Savings grant to the Canadian Red Cross Beyond the Hurt program. The program will be implemented in schools in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Victoria regions and involves training Grade 10 and 11 students from area high schools to deliver bullying prevention workshops to elementary schools in their catchment area. Kong points out that more than 64 per cent of children say they have been bullied and 40 per cent of Canadian youth admit that they’ve been bullied online. But she didn’t need the statistics to convince her about the program’s value, given her own experience on her high school volleyball team.

“Every time the coach put me in the game, I would hear some of my teammates talking behind my back and they were saying mean things,” Kong recalled. “One girl even came up to me angrily after a game and demanded I quit the team because she thought I was making them lose.”

The taunting was so unbearable that Kong decided to avoid involvement in all school athletics and she hopes the Beyond the Hurt program will prevent others from going through the name-calling and rejection she endured.

Jas Dhillon, who manages Coast Capital’s Yaletown branch, is also keen to prevent youth from going through what she experienced growing up, although her struggles were in the area of finances. As a student, Dhillon knew little about handling money, resulting in a passion to equip young people with financial skills as a Dollars with Sense volunteer coach. The program is aimed at Grade 7 and 8 students and is delivered through free half-day workshops. Coast Capital Savings began funding Dollars with Sense in 2010 and with its latest investment, the credit union has contributed over $800,000 to help bring volunteers like Dhillon to more B.C. classrooms.

“I believe we are making an impact in students’ lives and it’s exciting to know that the program will reach more youth,” Dhillon said. “It’s an engaging program because it presents real-life practical knowledge. The students can relate to the material we’re teaching because it’s not out of a textbook and it gets them involved.”

Coulter said an emphasis on young British Columbians will remain the centrepiece of Coast Capital’s community investment strategy.

“Investing in youth is an investment in British Columbia’s future and Coast Capital will continue to follow through on our commitment, not just through funding but also through active involvement and leadership from our staff, especially our young employees.”

Visit Coast Capital’s website to learn more about how the organization is investing in youth and to read the full BoosterBuddy, Dollars with Sense, Coast Capital Savings Innovation Hub and Beyond the Hurt stories of impact.

About Coast Capital Savings

Coast Capital Savings is Canada’s largest credit union by membership, owned by its 522,000 members. It has 50 branches in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island regions of British Columbia and has exciting plans to grow. Product innovations include Canada's first free chequing account from a full-service financial institution. Coast Capital is one of Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures™ and was named one of 2014’s BC Top Employers. It is a member of Canada's Best Managed Companies Platinum Club and an Imagine Canada Caring Company. To learn more, visit www.coastcapitalsavings.com.

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For more information, please contact:
Pamela Warkentin
Corporate Communications Advisor
604.517.7549
pamela.warkentin@coastcapitalsavings.com