The MaRS Discovery District is set to unveil its first cohort of Studio Y: Ontario’s Youth Social Impact and Leadership Academy, tomorrow at 10:30 am. On hand will be Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services Teresa Piruzza, who will announce a “Minister’s Challenge” to the inaugural cohort.
Studio Y is a new program that prepares 26 exceptional young people, ages 18-29, for “success in an increasingly complex world.” It includes nine months of intensive training and mentoring to strengthen participants’ leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurial skills and spur social change in their communities across the province. The program started on January 6.
A new cohort will be selected annually for each of the program’s five years, and MaRS said it will help more than 120 talented young leaders to realize their potential. Each participant receives $25,000 in direct financial assistance, including a living stipend and follow-on alumni supports. The program is made possible through support from the Government of Ontario.
Studio Y’s name is inspired by the Renaissance understanding of the word “Studio,” where work and learning were integrated. The “Y” represents “Young, Your journey, Your adventure and the ever-critical question of Why?”
The program came about last year when the Government of Ontario invested $10 million in a five-year leadership, innovation and impact initiative for young people through MaRS Discovery District. While this year features 26 participants, the aim is to include up to 25 young innovators and leaders from across Ontario ever year, invited to participate in an eight-month Fellowship focused on “personal mastery, 21st century skills development, project-based real-world experience and systems change leadership.”
Studio Y Fellows are selected only from within Ontario, motivated by “radically different causes—from climate change to social finance, from racism to urban agriculture.” And they will have a variety of different types of experiences—from earning GED diplomas to travelling around the world, and from starting their own businesses to completing masters degrees. But MaRS made it clear that no accolade or previous experience decides whether a fellow is accepted.
Individual applications were evaluated based on four identified selection criteria: Character, Contribution, Commitment and Stage Fit (at the individual level) and Diversity of Experience (at the cohort level), and over all the program received 200 applications. 49 individuals were shortlisted.