Two Hamilton non-profit organizations are being awarded with a total of $152,900 for their programs focused on helping youth develop their career prospects.

Eleanor McMahon, the Ontario MPP of Tourism, Culture and Sport, made the announcement Tuesday morning at Centre[3] for Print and Media Arts, whose Shift program is receiving $75,000.

The Shift Program is a 12 month pilot project based on Centre[3]'s pre-existing NuDeal program, which teaches media arts hard skills to youth aged 14-15. These include activities like video editing and digital design. But, according to one graduate, the program offered more than that.

Molly Crayford, a woman in her early twenties who finished the NuDeal program, gingerly approached the podium as friends in the crowded room encouraged her. She told the crowd how much the program helped her "gain self-confidence," alongside of useful media skills.

Centre[3]'s executive director Colina Maxwell says NuDeal's success in helping youth like Crayford in this way inspired the Shift program. Its overall goal is to develop its students' soft skills, like communication and conflict-resolution, through structured, art-based projects such as drama and visual arts.

The higher ed head space

Two projects at Mission Services Hamilton are receiving the majority of the Trillium Foundation's grant funds. A $60,000 donation will go toward hiring a coordinator "that will help people who may feel isolated" to "volunteer and create meaningful connections with people."

A Mission Services program currently named HOSTS (a new name is pending) received $17,900. This program encourages low-income youth aged 11-15 to consider and plan for post-secondary education.

"We're looking a little more upstream." - Daniel Moore on Mission Services' initiative to encourage pre-teens to pursue post-secondary education

Is just encouraging youth to pursue any post-secondary education enough?

"We're looking a little more upstream," said Daniel Moore, the Grants and Communications Officer for Mission Services Hamilton. "The target age group for this program is Grades 7 through 9."

According to Moore, "It's that age group that's really overlooked by a lot of youth programming." High school-aged youth are given aptitude testing, but Moore says their program is addressing students who don't have, "the initiative and the resilience to get that far" in the first place. Mission Services also has a program for older teenagers that provides one-on-one tutoring and even awards scholarships.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation has awarded $4.5 million in Seed Grants across Ontario. Assessments for each application are done by local volunteers with expertise on the communities in question. Criteria for eligibility are somewhat flexible, because applications are compared against one another according to likeness — and then the committee decides which project is best positioned to serve its community.

"By supporting the invaluable work of organizations such as Centre[3] and Mission Services," says MPP McMahon, "we can help grow our economy and provide youth with access to the essential tools and training they need to reach their full potential and better serve their communities."

dave.beatty@cbc.ca | @dbeatty