The Youth Innovation Lab originated out of the need for mentorship and pre employment opportunities for youth in care. St Leonard's has served youth at risk and youth in care since 1967- through a variety of traditional and non traditional programs. Outdoor adventure programs, a horse resource for girls, gang prevention, a day school and of course our residential homes have historically provided high quality care for youth.
Research indicates that the jobs of the future reside in the high tech industry. A majority of youth in care struggle to achieve the training and education that they need for future employment success. There are many reasons for this, including the lack of permanency in home life, education, etc. Through our partnerships with the school district, the MCFD, the high tech community and others, we are building an accessible coding school to mentor youth through training and internships opportunities. The project started last year with an evaluation conducted by McCreary. Year two will focus on youth in care recruitment, leadership development, curriculum design, internships and with the support of Vancity and SFU, the development of the CSR and learning community framework for our tech community partners. The long range business goal is to see the tech and broader community support the ongoing financing of the program.