Great young minds turning vision into reality

2012 CITY Leaders cohort

Someone might ask what CITY Leaders is. It does the Institute no justice to simply say “it’s a leadership program”.  Its more than that.

It’s a place where great minds meet and turn ideas and visions into reality. By definition The Creative Institute for Toronto’s Young (CITY) Leaders provides young adults with the practical knowledge and tools to become effective leaders, navigators and connectors in Toronto’s non-profit sector and communities, through theoretical education, applied learning, mentoring, online engagement and peer networking. Jointly funded by United Way Toronto and the Youth Challenge Fund, CITY Leader participants graduate with a co-certificate in leadership from United Way Toronto and the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Social Work.

Over 100 young leaders have graduated and a group of 24 young leaders, each bursting with potential, were welcomed to the institute this September. During their opening retreat

Click here to read Agapi (left) and Alex's story of their experiences as CITY Leaders.

Click here to read Agapi (left) and Alex’s story of their experiences as CITY Leaders.

we took some time to chat with these new leaders about how they felt about our city, their hopes and where they see themselves in the greater picture. The following is a summary of insightful answers given to challenging questions by the sharpest young minds in Toronto.

How do you feel about our city now?

The group believes Toronto has what it takes to overcome issues that affect our economic and social development, and to overcome struggles between governments and their constituents. The group had many concerns about and views of our city. But they all saw great potential in Toronto.

Discrimination, ageism, the TTC, and other issues that our communities face daily were forefront concerns. Even though there seemed to be an overwhelming number of issues to resolve, the room was filled with hope and a vision for the future.

The group admired the multiculturalism that the city offered, but felt that it was this generation that would redefine the word. Multiculturalism would no longer just mean that there are many different cultures that coexist in silo’s, but that this generation teaches older generations about each other, in order to build relationships and partner in bringing change to their communities.

When asked what gives them hope for the city most responded that they got hope from each other. Being accepted into CITY Leaders and seeing like minded individuals with similar commitment and passion give them a sense of relief and motivation.

“Meeting people who strive to make positive differences in their own lives and in the lives of others has inspired me and given me hope for our city. It’s not often you’ll meet and bond with 24 inspiring individuals in one space and time, CITY Leaders has definitely magnified my hope and confidence for our city.”– Sue Chun

What is the role of young leaders like yourselves in Toronto right now

Index fingers weren’t raised to point at the government, adult allies, or even each other. The first finger was pointed inwards: they looked at themselves first. Acknowledging that they are not just role models to their siblings but to their entire community, they understand that what they say must align with their actions in order to make change. They imagine a city where young leaders in this city have the courage to be consistent and move from being reactive to proactive in their delivery. They imagine a city where minorities are in power; a city that resists the bare minimum and refuses to stand neutral in times of crisis.

The city that these CITY Leaders imagine exists; we just haven’t found it yet.

Hear from young leaders themselves. Watch this video to learn more about the experiences of CITY Leaders participants and why the program is helping to create a bright future of possibility for our city.

6 thoughts on “Great young minds turning vision into reality

  1. Where was this program when I was this age? I really wish I had access to this level of professional development. Great job united way Toronto. Young people are our future and can’t be a better investment than that of building their capacity. Look at those beautiful smiles and how diverse they are. Truly reflective of our city. Would love to learn more about this initiative. Going to browse your website. I also know a couple of great candidates will refer this post to them. All the best to all involved.

  2. It’s really exciting to read about a program that started with big goals a few years ago and has only continued to flourish. I really value the CITY leaders program. Honestly, it’s one of the few professional development opportunities where I STILL want to and DO stay connected to other alumni on a regular basis. It’s not forced, it’s not because I should, it’s because there is real value in the expertise of the collective.

    Congrats to the entire CITY Leaders team for all your efforts. I will be watching for continued growth.

  3. Thanks Agapi for showcasing us on this platform in such a positive light!!!!! Love my crew!!!!!!


  4. I am pleased to see investment being made in quality leadership training. I hope these folks soak up everything that is being taught. The ultimate leadership is sacrificial, putting the needs of the people you lead above your own; if they grasp that basic concept they will be able to have a massive impact.



    Kudos to you all for developing a non-partisan platform that facilitates the grooming of high calibre young men and women.



    Here’s to original thoughts and unselfish leadership. Wishful thinking, or reasonable request? The City Leaders will decide when their time comes.


    God Bless

  5. Amazing… This program provides youth with a voice and the tools to bring change not only in their own lives but the lives of others and their city. Programs like this one should be available to youth across this country in each province allowing us to make changes accross all our communities and cities.

  6. Wow… CITY program definitley shows what it takes to bring change to toronto. We need more programs like this to support young people and leadership.

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