Mission Matters

Expert insights into the latest news, research and conversations that affect our mission: to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy.

Jennifer Holmes Weier, President and CEO

Empowering youth through social capital

January 12 2023

Jennifer Holmes Weier
President and CEO, JA Central Ontario

Last week, I explored the Toronto Foundation’s recent Social Capital Study and its call for Torontonians to support young adults as they seek to establish careers and families in an ever more challenging world.

This report has given my colleagues and I pause for thought, as we explore how JA Central Ontario’s work truly supports this and many of the report’s other insightful recommendations. These recommendations include recognizing the broader role the organization plays in creating and strengthening social networks, reducing barriers to online participation, building links to isolated communities, and improving youth mental health.

The stories of our students speak volumes about JA’s impact on these key measures of social capital for young people.

I’m reminded of JA alum Myah, who used her JA experiences and connections to build her self-confidence, start her own business and become a VJ with Toronto staple MuchMusic. Seamus explores how JA’s Investment Strategies Program allowed him to learn all about investing through our unique online platform, in a safe environment where failure is simply another way to learn and grow. And Alviya shares how JA’s Company Program motivated her to become a leader in her community and inspire others – before she even graduated high school.

These stories are only three of many hopeful, inspiring journeys JA has helped to create through hands-on, community-engaged learning experiences. These journeys bear all the hallmarks of growing social capital – from developing social networks, to building social trust, community support and personal well-being.

Students at JA event

Photo by Jesús Maza

But this growth does not happen in a vacuum. Here at JA Central Ontario we rely on the generosity of our donors, partners and volunteers to share of their social capital to empower a new generation. Next week, I’ll share how we’re working with our wider community to do just that. In the meantime, take a look at how you can start this journey by volunteering with or donating to JA Central Ontario!