Eva's National Innovation Awards presented to three community services for
outstanding work with homeless youth

Youth account for nearly one-third of all homeless people in Canada

TORONTO, April 29 /CNW/ - Three exemplary community services that work to help homeless youth become self-sufficient are this year's recipients of Eva's National Innovation Awards. The 2010 winners of the award and a $5,000 prize are:

    
    -  Covenant House Vancouver & The Inner City Youth Mental Health Project
    -  Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary for The Infinity Project
    -  The Street Youth Planning Collaborative, Hamilton
    

"While we don't know exact numbers, conservative estimates are that of the estimated 150,000 homeless people in Canada, 65,000 are between 18 and 24. This is a huge burden for communities, and families" said Rachel Gray, Director of National Initiatives at Eva's Initiatives. "There are a range of complicated issues that may cause a young person to become homeless, including mental illness, family breakdown, and a lack of education and employment skills. One thing is crystal clear: the longer they are on the street, the longer they are likely to stay on the street. Long term solutions that address self-sufficiency are the key to helping homeless youth. Integrated support services, such as shelter, job and life skills, counseling and mentorship have proven effective in helping youth get off and stay off the streets permanently."

Eva's Innovation Awards program, sponsored by CIBC, is in its fifth year of recognizing the work of organizations across Canada working to address the issues of youth homelessness and youth unemployment in a holistic way. Since 2006, Eva's Initiatives has honoured 15 organizations for their work with homeless and at-risk youth.

This year's winners of Eva's National Innovation Awards are:

Vancouver: Covenant House Vancouver and psychiatrists from St. Paul's Hospital joined forces in 2007 to launch The Inner City Youth Mental Health Project (ICYMHP) to respond to the needs of homeless and runaway youth living with mental illness in downtown Vancouver. This innovative project provides immediate on-site psychiatric services to homeless youth where and when they need them. The uniqueness of this program lies in its multi-tiered approach to mental health care for homeless youth. Rather than one-off consultations with mental health workers, through Covenant House, youth regularly have access to a team of psychiatrists while being supported through case management and a range of community services. (It is estimated that there are currently 700 homeless youth living on the streets of Vancouver and many of them struggling with addiction. About 60 to 65 per cent of these young people have been through foster care and as many as 50 per cent are dealing with emerging mental health issues.)

Calgary: The Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary Infinity Project, is a unique "housing first" program that provides homeless youth or youth at risk of homelessness with financial support as a pre-requisite to securing permanent housing. The project works with youth to help create a permanent home in the community of their choice and then wraps supports around them to help maintain their housing. Youth are supported in locations across the city through the use of convertible leases. Once housed, support workers connect with the youth to facilitate education, youth engagement, enhance relationships, develop life skills, and promote emotional healing. The financial support becomes the foundational pillar that supports the other essential parts of life which together ensure a smooth transition to adulthood.

Hamilton: The Street Youth Planning Collaborative (SYPC) works towards a seamless and comprehensive continuum of services to address the needs of street-involved youth in Hamilton. SYPC is comprised of directors from five Hamilton organizations who work directly with homeless youth: Good Shepherd Youth Services, Living Rock Ministries, Wesley Urban Ministries, Catholic Family Services, and Alternatives for Youth. Since 2005, this collaborative network has completed a needs assessment, obtained funding, and developed programs to build an effective street-involved youth service system. The concrete successes of the initiative include ten pilot projects, including two transitional housing projects - one for street-involved youth and one for young mothers and their babies. The innovative collaboration focuses on what is best for youth and the community's network of services, rather than what is best for their individual agencies.

"At CIBC, helping young people achieve their full potential is an important part of our community investment program," said David McGown, CIBC's Vice-President of Government Relations and Corporate Donations. "We are proud to support Eva's Initiatives and the National Innovation Awards and salute this year's recipients for their exemplary work with homeless youth." CIBC has had a long-standing relationship with Eva's Initiatives, to which it has contributed more than $290,000 since 1995.

Eva's Initiatives provides safe shelter, training, counselling and a wide range of innovative programs and services to help homeless and at-risk youth reach their potential to lead productive, self-sufficient and healthy lives. With cutting-edge services and distinctive programming, Eva's offers a continuum of service not available anywhere else in Canada. Locally Eva's operates three unique shelters which house and feed 114 youth aged 16-24 each night. Nationally, Eva's works to build innovative and long-term solutions to youth homelessness.

CIBC is committed to supporting causes that matter to our clients, employees and our communities. We aim to make a difference in communities through corporate donations, sponsorships and the volunteer spirit of employees. With a strategic focus on youth, education and health, and employee commitment to causes including the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure, the CIBC Children's Foundation and United Way, we are investing in the social and economic development of communities across the country. In 2009, $26.8 million was contributed through the CIBC group of companies to charitable and non-profit initiatives in Canada, supporting a wide variety of national, regional and local organizations. To learn more, visit www.communitymatters.cibc.com.

SOURCE CIBC

For further information: For further information: Rachel Gray, Director, National Initiatives, Eva's Initiatives, rachel@evas.ca, (416) 977-4497, or Doug Maybee, Director of Media Relations, CIBC, doug.maybee@cibc.com, (416) 980-7458


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