Studio Y at MaRS announces first cohort

Program supported by Ontario government focuses on youth leadership,
21st century skills and social innovation

Toronto, January 15, 2014 – Studio Y: Ontario’s Youth Social Impact and Leadership Academy officially announced its inaugural cohort during an event this morning at MaRS Discovery District.

Twenty-six young people from across Ontario have been selected to participate in the program, offered through MaRS, which began on January 6, 2014. To view their bios, visit the Studio Y website.

Studio Y prepares exceptional young people, ages 18-29, for success in an increasingly complex world. It includes nine months of intensive training and mentoring to build and refine participants’ leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurial skills to spur social change in their communities and across the province.

“Our government is investing directly in the great potential of our young people and in a better future for all Ontarians. Our support for Studio Y will help these youth foster social change, tackle complex problems and become leaders in their communities and in the province,” said The Hon. Teresa Piruzza, Minister of Children and Youth Services.

At the event, Minister Piruzza issued a challenge to cohort participants, asking them to explore and design innovative solutions that will generate greater efficiencies in food purchase, distribution and storage to maximize the impact of Ontario’s Student Nutrition Program.

A new cohort will be selected annually for each of the program’s five years, helping more than 120 talented young leaders to realize their full potential and transform their communities and the world around them. Studio Y participants will each receive $25,000 in direct financial assistance, including a living stipend and follow-on alumni supports. The program is made possible through a $10 million, five-year investment by the Government of Ontario.

“The innovation economy calls for new solutions and ways of thinking surrounding the future of talent and leadership. Studio Y will help develop our young changemakers and prepare them to tackle the seemingly intractable challenges we face, such as youth unemployment and economic inequality,” said Ilse Treurnicht, CEO, MaRS Discovery District. “We are excited to be delivering this program on behalf of the Ontario government, and grateful for its support of this important initiative.”

Studio Y will encourage youth to build the critical capacities needed to tackle 21st century challenges and thrive in the innovation economy, strengthening their systems thinking, design, communication, collaboration, creativity and project management skills. They will develop key networks with innovators and leaders across a wide range of sectors and gain real-world experience working on projects, including connecting local food producers to consumers, building a model for self-directed lifelong learning and designing a space for youth collaboration and innovation.

As members of the Studio Y team, fellows will:

  • Discover people, ideas, projects and organizations in the innovation and impact economy;
  • Develop tangible skills to thrive in today’s complex world, including project management, business design, digital literacy and storytelling;
  • Learn and work at Studio Y’s home at MaRS Discovery District, Canada’s largest innovation centre;
  • Explore an area of interest guided by a personal endeavour;
  • Receive dedicated coaching and access to networks, events and opportunities; and
  • Contribute to building a diverse movement of young innovators and changemakers across the province.

“Studio Y is about the incredible positive change young people can achieve for themselves and others when they are given the right supports. When I moved here as an immigrant, Ontario provided me with opportunities that transformed my life. I feel excited and honoured to be a part of a team that will open doors for dozens of young people across the province, providing them with critical leadership skills that will help equip them for success,” said Hamoon Ekhtiari, Director, Studio Y.

About MaRS
MaRS Discovery District (@MaRSDD) is a mission-driven innovation centre located in Toronto. MaRS works with partners to catalyze, accelerate and amplify innovation. MaRS supports entrepreneurs building Canada’s next generation of growth companies. MaRS’ ventures have created over 4,000 jobs and, in the last three years alone, they have raised over $750 million in capital and earned over $375 million in revenue.

For more information, contact:

Melissa Hughes
Manager, Media & Community Relations
MaRS Discovery District
(416) 673-8152