Through On Co-op, Ontario credit unions and co-operatives provide young people with the opportunity to attend Co-operative Young Leader (CYL) programs every summer — an experience unlike any other. This week-long initiative brings young people aged 14-18 together from all across Ontario. CYL’ers learn about, and practice, communication and leadership through co-operative activities, and facilitates further engagement in their co-ops and their communities when they return home. CYL also provides adult professional development through its facilitator training programs.
Since its inception in 1967 over 3,000 young people have gone through Ontario CYL programs.
One of the highlights of the program is when the seniors level participants are given the task of forming a group, and creating a pitch for a new co-operative enterprise idea. This exercise is invaluable for the participant’s understanding of the co-op sector and philosophy, as well as their own personal / professional development. Groups work hard on their ideas throughout the week, will continuing to participate in many other activities, and have limited time, supplies and computer use. The teams are asked to focus mostly on the need for / and structure of their co-op, while considering only broad/basic budgeting & accounting.
Panel members adjudicate the presentations based on their business idea content as well as how they presented. This year panel members included Wendy Carruthers (Manager of Member & Co-operative Relations at The Co-operators), Guido Chezzi – Former OCUF Foundation Vice Chair, Retired Credit Union Executive), Janice Johnson (Manager, Member & Co-operative Relations at GROWMARK), and Clayton Shold (Executive Director at OCUF). Suffice it to say there were some very creative and well thought out presentations. The future is in good hands!