CITY Leaders - Creative Institute for Toronto's Young (CITY)

The Creative Institute for Toronto’s Young (CITY) Leaders is a leadership development institute for young people working and volunteering in Toronto’s communities and the social services sector. CITY Leaders was launched in March 2008 after a comprehensive best practices review, extensive bottom-up engagement with young adults, and consultation with various stakeholders (funders, academic partners, and sector organizations). The format, content, delivery format, and name of the institute were products of the consultation with young adults.
CITY Leaders has two streams:

  • CITY Leaders in the Neighbourhood: diverse young people between the age of 18 and 24 who live, work, and volunteer in Toronto’s 13 Priority Neighbourhoods
  • CITY Leaders Sector: diverse young people between the ages of 25 to 29 working in the social service sector

CITY Leaders provides young adults with the practical knowledge and tools to become effective leaders, navigators and connectors in Toronto’s nonprofit sector and communities. The institute supports the growth of young adults by providing them with: residential retreats, leadership education, applied learning, online engagement, mentoring, and peer-networking opportunities. Participants graduate with a co-certificate in leadership from United Way Toronto and the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University.

CITY Leaders - Creative Institute for Toronto's Young (CITY)
(Left to right:) CITY Leader graduate Willa Lee (receiving her certificate of leadership); Professor Wes Shera, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work; Debra Shime, Vice President, Community Investment, UWT; and Nation Cheon, Director, Youth Programs, UWT

The curriculum unfolds over eight months, allowing participants to integrate and apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills to their work and projects and to share with their peers. The certificate requires each participant to complete six mandatory core modules, and a choice of three out of four elective modules in order to graduate. You can view the institute’s key components.

The institute is jointly funded by United Way Toronto and the Youth Challenge Fund. So far, over 120 young leaders have graduated from CITY Leaders over six cohorts since piloting in 2008. A new cohort of diverse young leaders from our neighbourhoods is currently undergoing the training and is scheduled to graduate in November 2013. By December 2013, CITY Leaders would have provided free leadership education to over 150 young leaders.

"CITY leaders prepare young people who are working in communities to do their work better. This means that there are people all over Toronto who are working with more energy and inspiration, and are more confident in their skills.  This in turn makes their co-workers, clients; residents also get energized and inspired. More young workers are able to move into leadership positions which means that we have young and fresh perspectives in leadership and I am proud to be an alumni"—Sahar Vermezyari, CITY Leader graduate

Graduating to a great future

Agapi Gessesse

Having graduated as cohort representative of the 2011 CITY Leaders class, Agapi Gessesse is now setting her sights on a bright future in community building and municipal politics. Read Agapi’s story

Becoming a community leader

Agapi Gessesse

Having graduated as cohort representative of the 2011 CITY Leaders class, Alex Vaghar is completing his first documentary film and preparing for post-secondary education.
Read Alex’s story

Imagine a City

Imagine a City

You can read a special Imagine a City blog post from the 2012 Neighbourhood Cohort of CITY Leaders, “Great young minds turning vision into reality.

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