Significant RBC donation invests in tomorrow’s leaders
A dynamic, community-based program that exposes students to real-world work experience and cross-cultural relationships, while deepening Winnipeg’s inner-city resilience, expands as the result of a generous $500,000 gift, from RBC’s Future Launch.
The University of Winnipeg’s Inner-City Work Study program is a partnership initiated by Winnipeg City Councillor Brian Mayes in 2017, with support from Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, and funding of $200,000 annually in 2017 and 2018, from Oshki Annishinabe Nigaaniwak, an initiative of the City of Winnipeg.
“It is wonderful to see private sector investment from RBC into the Inner-City Work Study program,” says Mayor Bowman. “The goal of the program is provide youth with the tools they need to build bridges and serve their communities. The City of Winnipeg is a proud partner that helped initiate the program and it’s inspiring to see this investment that will help expand the program to additional community-serving organizations!”
Each summer, 20 UWinnipeg students from suburban and inner-city backgrounds come together in the North End to learn in a “roving classroom.” Students spend one day a week in class, and four days a week working in community-based organizations, learning directly from experienced community practitioners while earning six university credits.
The RBC donation, $500,000 over five years, will allow the program to expand, with more students gaining new skills and career-enhancing opportunities.
“This gift is an investment in the vibrant and resilient inner-city youth of Winnipeg who we will one day lean on to lead us into the future,” shared RBC Regional President Kim Ulmer. “By continuing the inspired work of Brian Mayes and Mayor Bowman, we will tap into the limitless potential of young people found at the centre of our city.”
The diversity of students in the program advances reconciliation and fosters new relationships and the exchange of ideas and perspectives, in keeping with the Calls to Action outlined in the seminal Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report. UWinnipeg works in collaboration with more than 30 community-based organizations dedicated to strengthening inner-city resilience, which provide students with real-world experiences.
“The success of this program is the direct result of meaningful partnerships and true collaboration,” said Dr. Annette Trimbee, President and Vice-Chancellor, The University of Winnipeg. “As a university, as corporate citizens, as community groups, as a city —- we share the responsibility of achieving a common goal: ensuring youth, from all backgrounds, have the opportunities they need to succeed and become tomorrow’s leaders.”
“Having a major corporate sponsor in RBC is a validation of the hard work that has gone into creating this program. It makes me so proud to know the Inner-City Work Study program is not only thriving, but is now able to expand,” said Councillor Mayes.
For Sheldon Valiquette, a fourth-year sociology student, the program was important because it allowed him to put classroom learning into practice. He did his work placements at the Community Education Development Association and the Canadian Mental Health Association. “I was also struck by the diversity of people I met through this program, each who have different ways of seeing things. The North End is familiar to me but some had never been in Winnipeg’s inner-city before.” Valiquette, who is Ojibwe from Poplar River First Nation, graduates this year and intends to work with people or pursue a teaching degree.
“Students like Sheldon gain practical experience and new skills by working within our organization,” said Jordan Bighorn, Co-Director Intern, CEDA – Pathways to Education Winnipeg. “This partnership also allows students to discover and explore their passions, and give back to the community.”
Student Madrin MacGillivray says his time working with Spence Neighbourhood Association provided “invaluable experience in community outreach. There is fantastic work going on on the front lines in the inner-city. The program allowed me to build relationships and connect with community workers,” a career path MacGillivray hopes to follow. He is in his fourth year studying in The Department of Urban and Inner-City Studies.
Unique in Canada, the Inner-City Work Study program was designed and is delivered within UWinnipeg’s Department of Urban and Inner-City Studies by departmental chair, Dr. Shauna Mackinnon.
“We’ve seen the powerful impact of bringing Indigenous and non-Indigenous students together to work, learn, and contribute to our inner-city neighbourhoods. Students are learning valuable transferable skills, but more important, the exposure to different experiences and cultures is challenging them to shed the stereotypes and biases that all too often divide us, “ said Dr. Mackinnon. “We applaud the City of Winnipeg for investing in this innovative initiative and we look forward to providing opportunities to more students thanks to the generous support of RBC.”
UWinnipeg is currently accepting applications from students who wish to participate in the 2020 Inner-City Work Study program. See here for details.
Executive Director, Marketing and Communications, University of Winnipeg
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Regional Director, Communications, RBC