UforChange is an arts non-profit organization that provides young people, ages 16 to 29, from all over the Greater Toronto Area, with a combination of creative, practical, and soft skills that will help them develop their careers in a safe, supportive, and collaborative environment. UforChange achieves this through its Core Arts program, offered to over 30 young people every year, along with a series of industry partnerships that lead to workshops and mentorships, which empowers another 350 youth every year. Our Core Arts program includes 8-month courses in Fashion, Photography and DJ that teach youth the fundamentals of such subjects and key skills necessary to pursue higher education, volunteering and entrepreneurship. The workshops and mentorships are offered throughout the year in order the to impact a larger community. One of our biggest workshop initiatives is Workshops in the 6ix, which provides youth unable to commit to our 8-month program with short-term high-impact workshops in a variety of topics such as business in the arts, graphic design, and theatre, among others. Besides our programs, one of UforChange core goals is to match us with mentors who teach, inspire, guide, and connect us with our respective industries. That being said, UforChange’s work does not only provide young people with professional skills, but also with personal guidance as well as a sense of community.
All the way back in 2008, the idea of UforChange began with seed funding from the Wellesley Institute: an initial $10,000 capacity-building grant. The original co-founders of the project worked with members of the St. James Town Youth Council to get what was called at the time the "Youth Empowerment Project" off the ground, which was led by many dedicated volunteers who successfully convened dozens of youth in the community to host events such as basketball tournaments, BBQs, and art projects. Supported by community service agencies, the youth agreed there needed to be a bigger intervention in the community: one grounded in the arts. The founders then took this collective experience and submitted a letter of intent to a new government-funding agency called the "Toronto Youth Pluralism Pilot Project" which was made up of a consortium of funders including Citizenship & Immigration Canada, Heritage Canada, Public Safety Canada, and Service Canada. Ultimately, the department of Citizenship Immigration Canada provided $3.4m over three years. During this period, UforChange offered over 20 different arts disciplines with tremendous success. Currently, UforChange offers an 8-month program to over 50 youth, ages 16-29, from the GTA annually. Since 2009, UforChange has served over 2,450 youth from all over the Greater Toronto Area, over 600 youth have graduated from their Core Arts Program from which 323 joined post-secondary education, 555 were offered paid employment opportunities, and 665 volunteer opportunities.