Since 1982, Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) has helped youth aged 16 – 30 in London and Middlesex County access support systems to build skills, confidence, and independence to reach their potential. A non-profit, they believe that investing in youth builds a strong community.

Project Summary

The team at YOU and Fanshawe Corporate Training Solutions (CTS) worked together to understand the experiences and needs of youth and the Indigenous communities in Middlesex County pertaining to housing and job opportunities, which resulted in increased funding opportunities.

The Challenge

Youth Opportunities Unlimited has well-served the youth in London and Strathroy for decades, around basic needs provision, supporting young people with employment, and getting them connected to services. They’ve been doing housing in London for years, but when they looked to develop housing in the county, they knew they couldn’t assume that what works in a city would also work in Strathroy or within a rural community. 

Without the time or expertise to do the necessary research, they required outside help to understand the trends and needs of the community so they had reliable data available to access funding and develop housing and programs to support those needs. This research would be vital in shaping YOU’s service model to ensure it aligns with what the young people residing in these small urban and rural communities are facing.

The team at Fanshawe was a great group to work with. They understood what we were looking to do and our desire to capture the needs of young people in the county.

- Katherine Krakowski,
Director of Employment and Housing Services, YOU

The Solution

Fanshawe’s CTS was brought in to complete a community needs assessment, providing evidence of community strengths and gaps in the housing and employment needs of youth aged 16 to 24. After weeks of focus groups, discussions with stakeholders, and analyzing data, they put together a comprehensive report with a clear plan for how YOU could provide support and services to the youth in Middlesex County. 

As YOU can now clearly articulate their needs to access funding, they have increased their current funding by 30%, plus they have new opportunities to access funds from additional vendors. 

Ultimately, this will ensure that young people are not forced to move into a larger city because services are not available within their rural community. Youth Opportunities Unlimited has now developed new training partnerships – starting small with a clear direction to grow its footprint. 

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