Cause of the Week, Broadview Community Youth Group

This week, we have Broadview Community Youth Group as our cause of the week.
How did the whole idea come about?
The BCYG was started at a housing co-operative when it was spun out of a program the co-op had been running for the children and youth who lived there.  At the time, the program was largely volunteer-dependent and had virtually no budget.  Insurance and funding restrictions prevented the program from taking place anywhere but outside the co-op’s community room, and did not allow outside children to participate.  It was also discovered, through research, that there was almost no other affordable programming being offered for children in the community, which consists of 40,000 people and 6,000 children.  Using a donation from a condo developer, the BCYG was born.
Why is this cause close to your heart? Why should others support it?
Well, it’s personally close to my heart as the founder because I’ve lived in the community for 15 years and seen first-hand the effects of kids having nothing to do in their free time.  One of the core values of the BCYG is to be inclusive, so unlike other programs for kids that are just focused on underprivileged kids or even families with money (as with most privately-run programs), or kids with any particular need, we bring them all together under one roof.  We aim to break down the barriers that exist between them.  Plus, we believe that all kids are at-risk, regardless of their background.  Others should support us for that very reason — that we are inclusive, but also because we offer our kids a broad range of programs — arts, heath & fitness, educational, and we’re the only group in our community to do so.
Do you have any other events or fundraisers that you would like others to know about?
We have a bowl-a-thon coming up in late April, and we’re working on a children’s festival for the end of September.  We have an ongoing “send a child to camp” program, featuring our best success story, Stephanie, who came to us from a women’s shelter.  Her story can be found at http://www.bcyg.ca/donate/stephanie.
What advice would you give to others that might like to take on such an amazing endeavor?
It is a lot of hard work.  Be prepared to make it your life in the beginning.  Persistence is a must.  Also, raising money post-2008 is challenging, but not impossible.  The best place to find support is locally, but we’ve had interest internationally.  Also, you will likely operate at a loss the first few years in order to establish yourself.  Once you see the results, it’s all worth it.
How has social media helped your organization?
A lot of our supporters and parents — and even some of the kids — are fans of our Facebook page, so it’s helped us to get information out to them efficiently.  We just started getting into Twitter in the past few months.  It took a while to get the hang of it, but now we have followers from all over North America, and it’s been a great place to find out information — like Socialize Your Cause!  We’ve started using YouTube a lot lately to document our work.
What do you have planned for the future of Broadview Community Youth Group?
We’re developing afterschool programming for fall 2011, and some specialized programming as well.  Hopefully that will all roll out over the next two years.  We’re also exploring where we can establish a permanent home.  Right now, we’re renting space in a church, but the church is very old and needs renovations and has a small footprint.  There are some other possibilities in the area, but the key is to find someplace that can generate revenue for us as well.

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