IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training Awarded $361,000 through Ontario Trillium Foundation

GUELPH, ON, Nov. 17, 2015 /CNW/ - The Natural Step Canada and The Co-operators are proud to announce that the IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training Program was a successful recipient of an Ontario Trillium Foundation Province-Wide Community Grant, a generous award of $361,000 for 2015-2017. This award was granted on the heels of an agreement to jointly deliver this program for at least four more years.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario and its support will enable scaling-up the program to provide more training sessions across Ontario. With the funding, this transformative training will now reach hundreds more youth seeking the tools to catalyze positive environmental, economic, and social change in their communities.

This Province-Wide Grant marks the third round of funding generously awarded by OTF to IMPACT! It follows the 2009-2011 Province Community Grant dedicated to launching the Emerging Leaders program and the 2013-2014 Champlain Region Community Grant, which helped expand a collaborative version of the training alongside other local, innovative organizations. For more information on OTF, please visit www.otf.ca.

IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training

The IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training is a joint effort between The Natural Step Canada and The Co-operators, and one pillar of the IMPACT! Youth Program for Sustainability Leadership. Alongside the IMPACT! Fund and IMPACT! Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership, this unique training brings together a diverse group of students and recent graduates who are passionate about building a more equitable, sustainable, and healthier tomorrow.

"Through the strong partnership between The Natural Step Canada and The Co-operators, we have been able to reach, educate, and inspire thousands of young Canadians. With so many more smart, committed collaborators interested in initiatives such as this one, we're looking forward to reaching even more young aspiring leaders in the years ahead," said Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of The Co-operators.

The IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training includes a three-day inspiring workshop, four months of mentorship from community leaders, an award-winning sustainability eLearning course, access to co-working space and a professional business coach, and access to dedicated seed funding from the IMPACT! Fund. The training, which is made possible with support from Social Delta and Futurpreneur Canada, targets youth aged 19-30 who are keen to build their capacity to tackle environmental, social, and economic challenges. Since the program's launch, there have been 15 sessions in seven regions across Canada. With the support of partners and funders like the Ontario Trillium Foundation, there will be at least 12 more of these transformative trainings in the next four years.

"We are very excited for IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training to have the support of Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Ontario government," says The Natural Step Canada Executive Director, Chad Park. "This not only means empowering more youth across Ontario with the leadership skills they seek, but providing the support necessary to scale, grow, and launch initiatives necessary to helping tackle urgent social and environmental problems."

The Sustainability Champions

Alumni of IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training have gone on to launch incredible enterprises improving their communities, lead organizations advancing social and environmental causes, and educate others – creating a ripple effect and sharing the skills they gained through IMPACT!

Initiatives inspired, developed, or honed through the training include a non-profit dedicated to diverting plastic from oceans, a social enterprise supporting Aboriginal craft makers, and an educational initiative teaching children how to make eco-friendly soap.

Recently, 2013 alumnus, Jimmy Chan, reached out to reflect on his participation in the training: "I attended the training and took back a set of skills that I could not have learned in class. I shared my ideas of creating a better future with like-minded students that supported me and contributed helpful advice. The love, passion, and mentorship at this workshop was unreal."

Join Us!

Since receiving OTF support, the partners have been able to deliver Ontario-based sessions in Sudbury and London. There are also sessions planned in 2016 for Guelph, Ottawa, London, and Sudbury. If you're a young person excited to connect with like-minded individuals, gain indispensable leadership skills, and deepen your understanding of sustainability, apply today!

Ottawa: February 5 - February 7, 2016
Guelph: February 26 - February 28, 2016
Sudbury: April 29 - May 1, 2016
London: TBA

This amazing program is only made possible by the support of our partners and funders. If you are interested in supporting or partnering with us in any capacity, please reach out to Program Manager, Josh Snider, at jsnider@naturalstep.ca.

More about The Co-operators and The Natural Step Canada

About The Co-operators:
The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian-owned co-operative with more than $40 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt; Corporate Knights' Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada; and the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada by Sustainalytics and Maclean's magazine. For more information visit www.cooperators.ca.

About The Natural Step Canada:
The Natural Step Canada is a dynamic non-profit organization with a vision of a sustainable society – one in which individuals, communities, businesses and institutions thrive within nature's limits. It is part of a global network of non-profit organizations that share the same brand, core identity and purpose and that has been at the forefront of sustainable development internationally for more than twenty-five years. The science-based framework employed (called the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development – FSSD) has been used successfully in hundreds of forward-thinking organizations around the world. For more information, visit www.naturalstep.ca.

SOURCE The Co-operators

For further information: Leonard Sharman, Co-operators, 519-767-3937; Rudayna Bahubeshi, The Natural Step Canada, 613-748-3001 x 5241, rbahubeshi@naturalstep.ca

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