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Nonprofits + Students = Great Success!

SCIP-logo-greenThe Serving Communities Internship Program (SCiP) was launched by Volunteer Alberta in partnership with the Government of Alberta in 2011. The goal – connect Alberta’s post-secondary students and organizations to create great results for participants and communities.

The concept is simple:

  1. Nonprofit organizations register for the program at www.joinscip.ca, then post a meaningful, skill-based, part-time internship that would make a big difference for their organization, and offer a great learning opportunity for a student.
  2. Then students browse the internship listing and apply directly to the organization. When the internship is are all done, students get a $1000 bursary from the Government of Alberta!

Now nearing the end of its fourth year, SCiP has had its most successful year yet with 1000 internships filled – our maximum available for the year. That is $1 million in bursaries for interns making a vital difference for organizations in their communities:

“This is a tremendous program; we were able to accomplish things I could only dream about with the help of these SCiP students!”
– SCiP Organization

“If we tell our future leaders how to be good they may forget. If we teach them how to be better they may remember. But if we involve them then they will learn to be the best. That is the reward of a SCiP internship.”
– L’Association Multiculturelle Francophone de L’Alberta (AMFA)

Thank you Alberta nonprofits and students – you have been and will continue to be what makes SCiP a great success!

As SCiP has reached this year’s internship maximum, we cannot accept any next internships for the remainder of the program year. Don’t worry – the next program year begins soon: August 1st, 2015! If you think your organization has the perfect project for a SCiP intern, now is a great time to start registering and planning for August. Just visit www.joinscip.ca to get started.

Sam Kriviak
Volunteer Alberta

Vitalize-ing Youth in Alberta

francisco_osorio  photo on flickrI first attended the Vitalize conference in 2012. I was 22 at the time and while I had been working and volunteering in nonprofits for a few years, Vitalize was my first opportunity to connect with a larger community of colleagues from across Alberta. I was lucky enough to participate in the conference both as an attendee, as well as a speaker on the youth engagement panel. Between sharing my experience and listening to others, it was a wonderful opportunity to exchange knowledge while learning new things.

The youth engagement panel offered many lessons about engaging youth as volunteers, but overall, we gave the following general advice:

We need to start treating youth more like any other age group, and, at the same time, we need to start treating youth differently.

Just like with everyone else, youth engagement only works well when good recruitment, retention, and recognition practices are in place. And, just like everyone else, if these processes aren’t in place (and even if they are) sometimes youth won’t show up, or won’t stay on long term. As Ralamy [Kneeshaw] reminded those at the session, you have likely had an absentee board member or a problem with high volunteer turn-over – even when it isn’t youth that you are engaging! Blaming either of these problems on age is a failed opportunity to improve your volunteer program and increase youth engagement at your organization.

At the same time though, it is important to recognize that ‘youth’ is a relevant category insofar as it tends to describe shared experiences. For example, many young people have a schedule quite different from other age groups: they have school 8:30-4:30 if they are still in grade school, or they have school all the time if they are attending post-secondary. In other words, a 15-year-old is never going to be able to attend your lunch meeting, and a university student will have a hard time committing themselves to an organization that can’t work around their exam schedule.

Youth might have a curfew or need parental permission, they might rely on public transit or rides from relatives, and many of them, students and older youth in particular, are low-income, have entry-level positions, poor job security, and are in debt or have lots of expenses like tuition. Recognizing these needs and challenges will help to inform more successful ways of recruiting, retaining, and recognizing youth volunteers.

Print​This year’s Vitalize, running June 18-20 in Edmonton, once again promises engaging sessions for participants of all ages. It will be my fourth time attending, and I’d love to see more youth in particular get involved!

Young people can attend either the main Vitalize conference or participate in the Vitalize Youth/Mentor Program for youth aged 15-22. The program offers a specific stream, and price point, to ensure youth can get involved – Vitalize registration is free* for youth participating in the program!

Through the Youth/Mentor Program, participants attend youth-focused nonprofit workshops led this year by Andrew Fung and his team from Youth Central. Participants will,

  • Connect with other engaged youth from across Alberta
  • Develop new skills that will help them make an impact
  • Learn how to build on their unique strengths and interests to make their communities better
  • Put theory into practice before the conference is over!

Encourage young people in your organization and community to consider registering for Vitalize, and tell them about the Youth/Mentor Program option. There are only 100 spots available for the program, and with Vitalize less than a month away, now is the time to register!

Find out more about Vitalize and the Youth Mentor/Program on the Alberta Culture and Tourism website.

*Youth under 18 must be accompanied by a mentor. Mentors must purchase their own registration.

Sam Kriviak
Volunteer Alberta

Apathy is Boring’s Strategies to Get Out the Youth Vote

Guest blog by Apathy is Boringaib

Youth voter turnout is on the decline across the country. In the 2011 federal election, only 38.8 per cent of Canadians aged 18-24 voted. This trend is especially worrisome for the upcoming provincial election, given that Alberta is the province with the largest demographic of young people in Canada.

For the nonprofit sector, young people represent our future leaders, volunteers, advocates, and funders. Encouraging community and civic engagement is imperative in nurturing the future of this sector. And for nonprofits working with youth, this election may be the opportunity to encourage and empower youth to cast their ballots.

So, what can we as citizens and community organizations do?

  1. Provide choices and information

Lack of knowledge about how, when and where to vote can be a major deterrent for young voters. Providing information in an accessible way to educate and inform youth is the first step to increasing youth voter turnout.

We created a How-to-Vote guide and Infographic that are available online and that we are sending to Albertan youth in the weeks leading up to the election. Given that the primary news source for youth is social networks and mainstream online media, we encourage you to spread voting information using your social media accounts.

  1. Engage youth as decision-makers

Young Canadians feel ignored. Politicians, political strategists and election campaigns organizers typically ignore youth issues because they don’t expect a meaningful turnout from young voters. This causes a negative cycle; campaigns ignore youth, so youth ignore elections.

 That being said, by creating spaces for dialogue and decision-making opportunities for youth, we can empower them to join the political conversation. That’s why our campaign in Alberta focuses on engaging youth in peer-to-peer conversation about democracy and civic engagement.

  1. Identify low-risk entry points

If youth aren’t making it out to the polls, we shouldn’t expect them to come to us, but instead we should go to them. Meeting youth on their turf is important (be it in the streets or online). If you hope to access youth, we encourage you to do the same.

Our Street Teams programming, which consists of 3 to 4 young volunteers sharing voter information, will be targeting low-risk entry points like concerts, festivals and cultural events in both Calgary and Edmonton.

  1. Cultivate intergenerational partnerships

By sharing our collective knowledge we can affect far more youth than any one organization could ever reach directly.

The strength of Apathy Is Boring’s programming comes from the partnerships we’ve developed across the country with elected officials, community organizations and concerned citizens. Thanks to partners like Elections Alberta, Volunteer Alberta, the Calgary Underground Film Festival and Timber Concerts we’ll be able to maximize our impact in across the province.

Positive actions and practical information that are shared today will lead to an engaged, involved and informed youth. The health of our democracy and communities relies on it.

A little bit about Apathy is Boring

Apathy is Boring is a youth-led, non-partisan, national non-profit organization that uses art and technology to educate youth about democracy.

Find out more about us here: apathyisboring.com

Follow us for the latest updates about our projects in Alberta: @apathyisboring

Show us some love by liking our Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/apathyisboring



The Greatest Roller-Coaster – Volunteerism

Being dedicated to changing the world is like riding a roller-coaster of emotions. Sometimes it’s the kiddie-coaster in a mall parking lot, other times it is the biggest, fastest, most flashy roller-coaster in the world. For me, I choose to ride the change-the-world-roller-coaster by volunteering my time, talent and energy.

My entire life I’ve been riding these rails, volunteering in service to the world. For me the ‘world’ I aim to change is not just the planet we all share; it’s the world in which I live and whatever community I happen to be a part of. It’s about the people I intersect with in life on a daily basis, including friends, family and passersby. It is this part of our big ole planet that, through volunteering, I’m working to change.

Have you ever taken a ride on the change-the-world-roller-coaster? Join me for a second…let me know, can you relate? It feels a bit like this…

I love volunteering. It’s a fantastic way to give back. I met new people. I got to be creative. I gained experience.

Wait… I didn’t get thanked. I feel drained. Nothing changed. Nobody cares. I hate volunteering. Volunteering sucks.

Hold on now, I’ve been appreciated. I see my value to the cause. I have been thanked by a person whose life I impacted! Volunteering is pure awesome. Never stop! Who needs money? Just VOLUNTEER – FOREVER! Creativity and volunteerism are the way of the future.

Oops… look at that, rent is due. I seriously have no money and no time. Why am I doing this again? What am I thinking? Stop me before I volunteer again…

…no wait, I can feel it, and now I can see it…I’m changing the world!

Let’s DO this! MORE! AGAIN!


Feels a little chaotic just thinking about it, right?

But in all seriousness, if Steve Jobs is right and changing the world is for the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels and troublemakers, then maybe I am on the right roller-coaster. Changetheworld

I’ve volunteered as a creative, a photographer, a graphic designer, a writer, and an event coordinator. I’ve had doors slammed in my face and have been greeted with open, appreciative arms. I’ve donated time, money, energy, creativity. I’ve sacrificed sleep, time and money. I’ve signed myself up with friends and family. I’ve been “volun-told” here and there. I’ve been a slacktivist on social media. I’ve coordinated grassroots groups to enhance my local community. I’ve experienced ageism, had my skills overlooked and taken advantage of.

I’ve volunteered mainly because my heart swells so big with passion for a changing the world I live in, that if I don’t volunteer my creativity, energy and skills, I am pretty sure I would burst.

I know that volunteering is a transformative experience. Even though it has its bests and worsts, ups and downs, I know I’ve made a difference through volunteering. I found something to love and learn about in each and every experience.

During this National Volunteer Week, my advice to you is: volunteer in whatever way you can on the change-the-world-roller-coaster, and let it make you crazy… because if you are crazy enough, you can change the world!

And isn’t that the point?

To volunteer is to change whatever world you live in.

Katherine Topolniski
Volunteer Alberta



Recognize your Volunteers: Enter to Win!

National Volunteer Week is quickly approaching, and it’s all about volunteer recognition! National Volunteer Week runs April 12-18, 2015 and is a wonderful celebration of the AMAZING volunteers we have in Canada.  After all, here in Alberta more than 50% of Albertans volunteer their time and skills to nonprofit organizations in their communities! So, during National Volunteer Week how are you going to celebrate volunteerism and a volunteer?

Last year, Tim wrote a blog on Volunteer Canada’s Volunteer Recognition Tool. If you have the time, read it again – it is full of good information. One of the messages in the blog is that recognizing and thanking your organization’s volunteers doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. National Volunteer Week is all about volunteer recognition, so this is great news!

Volunteer Canada also highlights that what volunteers really want is to see how their work helps the community. One inexpensive way to show volunteers their impact is by using www.volunteerville.ca.


Volunteerville is an interactive way to visually celebrate the contributions of volunteers through social media. It’s easy! Share volunteer photos and stories using #volunteerville on Twitter and Instagram or upload them directly to www.volunteerville.ca, then watch your posts show alongside many more at www.volunteerville.ca!

This year, during National Volunteer Week we have put together a contest for Volunteerville. Join in on the Volunteerville Contest April 12-18, 2015 for your chance to win! We have a free ticket to Vitalize 2015 for 2 lucky organizations!

Every time you or a volunteer mentions your organization while using #volunteerville on Twitter or Instagram your organization is entered to win a free ticket to Vitalize 2015!  Or upload your images and stories to www.volunteerville.ca during National Volunteer Week (April 12-18, 2015). It’s a great opportunity to acknowledge and thank your volunteers while promoting your organization at the same time!

How to enter? It’s easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Take a picture of your volunteers! (they can be ‘in-action’ or a profile photo)
  2. Post it to Twitter/Instagram using #volunteerville or to www.volunteerville.ca during National Volunteer Week.
  3. Show everyone and your volunteers their impact makes a difference!

Organizations, don’t forget to encourage your volunteers to share their experiences with #volunteerville. Remind them to include your social media handle or add your organization’s name to their personal posts too, and their posts will count as entries for our prizes!

Volunteers, use #volunteerville to SHOW what moves you!


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