New program will help organizations provide better services to youth

York University is launching a new program that will provide diverse research and evaluation supports to the sector serving Ontario youth at the grassroots level to improve outcomes and promote well-being. The Youth Research and Evaluation Exchange will provide the youth sector with resources and opportunities to share and use research on positive youth development in their work with young people.

Tracy MacCharles
Tracy MacCharles

Tracy MacCharles, minister of children and youth services, announced yesterday that the province will provide $3.75 million over two and half years in funding for the initiative. It was established as part of Ontario’s Youth Action Plan to mobilize research on positive youth development, to increase understanding of youth development and invest in continuous quality improvement in Ontario’s youth programming.

“Today’s launch of the Youth Research and Evaluation Exchange is an example of how our government and its partners are working to help grassroots organizations deliver services more effectively to give Ontario’s youth better opportunities,” said MacCharles. “Along with other actions we are taking, such as the Youth Collective Impact – which helps local organizations in communities across the province work together – the Youth Research and Evaluation Exchange is part of our government’s Youth Action Plan, outlined in our strategy Stepping Up: A Framework to Help Ontario’s Youth Succeed.”

The Youth Research and Evaluation Exchange will work with the youth sector to achieve the outcomes for youth well-being outlined in the ministry’s strategy Stepping Up: A Strategic Framework to Help Ontario’s Youth across seven themes: health and wellness; strong, supportive friends and families; education, training and apprenticeships; employment and entrepreneurship; diversity, social inclusion and safety; and civic engagement and youth leadership.

Uzo Anucha
Uzo Anucha

“York University is pleased to be leading the Youth Research and Evaluation Exchange program, turning research into action to support the learning, health and employment outcomes of Ontario’s youth,” said Robert Haché, York’s vice-president research and innovation. “The program builds on Professor Uzo Anucha’s extensive experience working with youth-serving agencies and is supported by the University’s award-winning Knowledge Mobilization Unit.”

The Youth Research and Evaluation Exchange is partnering with grassroots organizations and academic institutions in five hubs across Ontario, located in Toronto, Thunder Bay, Ottawa, London and Sudbury.

“We are looking forward to making research and evaluation more readily accessible and useable to groups working with youth across Ontario, especially groups that work with vulnerable youth,” said Anucha, the academic director and a professor in the School of Social Work, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies at York.

Carleton University, Western University (King’s College), Lakehead University and Laurentian University are collaborators on the project, along with several community organizations.

The government also announced today that it will support Youth CI, a new program by the Laidlaw Foundation and the Innoweave initiative of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, to encourage collective impact approaches in the youth sector.