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Highlights from the first CBYF National Gathering

Posted on June 9, 2020
By Trisha Islam

On March 10 to 12, representatives from communities across Canada came together in Kitchener-Waterloo for the first Communities Building Youth Futures (CBYF) National Gathering. Take a look at the map below to see the 13 communities involved in the CBYF initiative:  

CBYF Cities Map

Over two and a half days, attendees met, mingled, and learned new information to take back to their respective communities and to set up their own CBYF initiative. Here are some highlights from our post-event evaluation.  

Crowd favourites  

    • In a keynote address, Monique Miles from Aspen Forum for Community Solutions shared insights and learnings from her experience leading Opportunity Youth Forum, a Collective Impact initiative serving 1.2 million young people in the United States. 

    • Closing the event, Nation Cheong from United Way of Greater Toronto challenged us to develop youth-led community strategies to create systemic transformation.  

    • Graffiti artist Moises Frank wowed us all by facilitating an engaging collaborative painting and divvying up the wooden canvas as mementos of the event.  

    • Tamarack Directors shared their extensive knowledge and experience by providing workshops on four Collective Impact areas: Developing Your CBYF Leadership Table, Building Your Common Agenda, Engaging Your Community, and CBYF Outcomes and Impact.  

Top 10 takeaways 

Attendees described what they were most looking forward to bringing back. Here’s what we heard: 

    1. New perspectives 

    2. Youth-led engagement 

    3. Engagement broadly 

    4. Collective Impact

    5. Planning 

    6. Inclusion 

    7. Evaluation 

    8. Collaborative Leadership 

    9. Lessons learned 

    10. Network buildin

On average, 86 percent of survey respondents made new connections, reflected on how their current work fits with the CBYF initiative, and identified areas for further discussion with their organization.  

Appetite for more learning 

After multiple plenaries, workshops, and activities, attendees considered how to bridge what was shared with capacity building needs in their respective communities. I’ve framed these needs as questions to think about: 

    • How can youth from across the spectrum be engaged meaningfully? 

    • What’s the difference between collaboration and collective impact? 

    • How can communities learn from each other? 

    • How can we create meaningful relationships and network building processes?  

Thinking about next year’s Annual Gathering 

The CBYF team is always looking to create rewarding experiences and learning opportunities for communities working with young people. Here are some ways we’re looking to improve the Annual Gathering for next year:  

    • Carve out more time for people to learn from each other, formally and informally 

    • Engage more youth as speakers and attendees 

    • Bring perspectives from small and rural communities 

Thank you to all communities who quite literally traveled from the far corners of the country to join us! We are grateful for the positive feedback and we look forward to rising to the challenge of bringing everyone together for another, amazing Gathering.  

Youth, Communities Building Youth Futures, trisha islam

Trisha Islam

By Trisha Islam

Trisha Islam brings knowledge and experience in international development, social policy, food security, and most recently financial empowerment. In her role, Trisha supports communities to improve education and employment outcomes with youth by providing ongoing coaching, organizing knowledge exchange opportunities, and co-developing materials on community learnings and stories. -- Trisha Islam amène ses connaissances et son expérience en matière de développement international, de politique sociale, de sécurité alimentaire et, plus récemment, d'autonomisation financière. Dans son rôle, Trisha aidera les communautés à améliorer les résultats des jeunes en matière d'éducation et d'emploi en leur offrant un encadrement continu, en organisant des possibilités d'échange de connaissances et en élaborant conjointement des documents sur les apprentissages et les histoires des communautés.

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