Supporting Youth Work | Spotlight - Toronto Youth Reconciliation Initiative
by Stefanie Stuart
Manager of Youth Program Supports, YouthREX Central Ontario Hub
YouthREX offers a continuum of services to support youth wellbeing and meaningfully improve the lives of youth across the province. This blog series explores how YouthREX works in collaboration with partners and stakeholders. It features various organizations who have accessed program supports and capacity building services.
The Toronto Youth Reconciliation Initiative (TYRI) is one of several projects developed by Canadian Roots Exchange (CRE). TYRI builds capacity and relationships among Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth leaders, with an emphasis on interpersonal and group facilitation skills and community organizing skills. TYRI youth leaders facilitate workshops with young people in the Toronto District School Board and in community settings to further participants' understanding and commitment to reconciliation. The program’s 12 youth leaders aim to reach about 3,600 youth over three years through the workshops they offer.
TYRI and YouthREX have been working together on comprehensive program evaluation since spring 2017. Accessing YouthREX’s evaluation support gave TYRI an opportunity to reflect on the tremendous amount of work they’ve accomplished and provided a framework to share the program's impact. A lot of youth programs that YouthREX has worked with say it's the process of getting to the evaluation that is most meaningful to them. The process brings program managers, facilitators and youth participants together, creating time and space for the team to think intentionally about their work together.
“This has really helped in sparking discussion in our group, to think in a different way,
and share ideas with one another.” - TYRI Youth Leader
Through one-on-one support, the YouthREX Youth Supports Program team works to demystify program evaluation. The collaboration between YouthREX and TRYI shed light on the evaluation TYRI was already doing and made it easier to figure out if other sources of data were needed to answer the program's evaluation questions in a meaningful way.
“Partnering with YouthREX is useful because you don’t have to redo the work that’s
already been done.” - Leslie, Program Coordinator
Together, YouthREX and TYRI developed a program logic model to map out TRYI’s goals and identify activities which would intentionally lead to desired outcomes. Secondly, an evaluation plan was created to guide the evaluation process and understand how best to tell TYRI’s story. Most recently, a reflection guide was re-developed to support intentional debriefs for youth leaders to have with one another. This reflection guide, just like everything else created over the course of the partnership, are tools and approaches that TYRI can continue to use long after their collaboration with YouthREX is complete.
“The support from YouthREX has placed reflection… at the core of the program.”
- Saima, Program Manager
About the author:
Stefanie Stuart is the Youth Program Supports Manager for Central Ontario at YouthREX, where she oversees and supports customized program planning and evaluations for youth programs across the Central Ontario region. In her past work she has supported program planning, facilitation, and evaluation in various community settings in the Greater Toronto Area and in Northeastern Ontario. She is a first generation Canadian of Jamaican descent and is committed to continuous learning and unlearning. Outside work, she enjoys exploring movement through dance, being outdoors, and laughing at quality memes.