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Partnership with RBC Future Launch helps propel students into success

Newsroom authorby Jill ScarrowOct 7, 2021
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As calls for racial justice and equity became part of the national conversation in 2020, Sheridan graduate Ashleigh Montague and her sisters looked for a way to offer tangible support to racialized communities. Their solution was to found Blk Owned – an online platform to support Black-owned businesses in Hamilton, Halton and the Niagara areas. As the initiative grew, Montague found herself in need of resources to keep the momentum going. Joining the EDGE Social Impact Catalyst powered by RBC Future Launch proved to be the perfect solution. 

Montague is just one of 102 youth social entrepreneurs to benefit from the help offered through the Social Impact Catalyst powered by RBC Future Launch. The program, run by Sheridan’s entrepreneurship hub, EDGE, received a huge boost thanks to a gift to Sheridan from RBC Future Launch on Social Enterprise Day in late 2020. Over three years, the $435,000 gift is supporting social entrepreneurship, mentorship, and enriched co-curricular learning opportunities. 

Founded in 2017 with a $500-million commitment over 10 years, RBC Future Launch is a direct investment in ensuring Canada’s youth have access to programming and supports that will enable them to thrive in a world where the nature of work is changing quickly, and success is not a foregone conclusion. In fact, RBC Future Launch predicts that letting youth fall behind will cost our economy nearly $30 billion in the years to come. RBC Future Launch is working to change that: they’ve joined forces with more than 500 community partners and invested $175 million in youth-focused programs to date. 

RBC’s support for Sheridan builds on their rich partnership that has enhanced experiences for students and young alumni. RBC and Sheridan have worked together to offer up robust work-integrated learning opportunities for students, including supporting Sheridan’s new Virtual Internship Program (VIP), which gave 400 students the chance to continue to access valuable co-op work opportunities that otherwise would have been lost due to the pandemic. Jeff Bradley, Regional Vice-President, Halton, says supporting students also helps fuel RBC’s future success, and RBC has become a leading employer of Sheridan students and alumni.

“Over the years we’ve welcomed many Sheridan students and graduates onto our teams at RBC because of their proven skills and fresh perspectives. The value they bring to our workplace is instrumental to our success. We want and need their ideas, forward-thinking mindset, and digital skills to continue succeeding,” he says. 

Over the years we’ve welcomed many Sheridan students and graduates onto our teams at RBC because of their proven skills and fresh perspectives.”

– Jeff Bradley, Regional Vice-President, Halton
RBC employees play an  active role in enhancing student experience at Sheridan by volunteering on Professional Advisory Councils, and sharing their knowledge during student events including conferences, career-ready programs and mentorship opportunities. RBC Future Launch has also stepped up to help students financially by supporting Sheridan’s COVID-19 Student Emergency Bursary for students who experienced extreme hardship at the pandemic’s outset. 

Sheridan President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Janet Morrison says she is proud of how the partnership with RBC has become so deeply woven into every facet of the Sheridan community, creating educational opportunities essential for learners to excel in their studies and future careers.

“Beyond their educational attainment, today’s graduates need a robust skill set that includes leadership skills, career preparation, and the chance to build strong networks in order to be best positioned for success,” says Dr. Janet Morrison, President and Vice Chancellor at Sheridan. “Partners like RBC ensure we can provide these exceptional, high-quality experiences that help students discover and nurture their full potential so they’re ready to thrive as graduates.”

Each of RBC’s programs has been specifically designed to encourage that growth, including:

Helping social entrepreneurs thrive 

Social Impact Catalyst

Since the Social Impact Catalyst powered by RBC Future Launch began in January 2021, 80% of the ventures supported by it have been led by women, and 65% by members of racialized communities. In particular, women who had experienced racism in their own lives got an opportunity to create more equitable communities. Among the ventures are Montague’s Blk Owned; Ikigai a marketplace celebrating Asian beauty; and Brown Citizen Circle, an organization that amplifies BIPOC voices by hosting events and engaging the community. Learn more about the Social Impact Catalyst powered by RBC Future Launch.

Taking conferences into the virtual world 

Ignite Conference

This annual student conference event, supported by RBC Future Launch since 2018, has allowed business students to receive real-world career advice from Sheridan grads in their field. Thanks to RBC’s support, the 2021 conference was able to expand to include all Sheridan students and become a fully virtual event. More than 250 students heard from representatives of a variety of industries from the arts to technology. RBC’s support allowed the conference organizers to create a Leadership Expo where students could learn about leadership opportunities and resources. Students also connected with RBC representatives to discuss job opportunities. “These conferences teach us so much in just one day,” said one attendee. “It is just wonderful to set a day aside for personal and professional development. I would recommend this to everyone!” 

Mentorship, where it matters 

Sheridan Connect

This year, RBC’s support was essential to ensuring that networking and mentorship opportunities continued in a virtual space via Sheridan Connect, an online networking platform that allows Sheridan students, alumni and faculty to connect with each other exclusively. RBC’s support allowed Sheridan to launch the platform two years ago and, to date, more than 2,700 students, alumni and faculty have registered. This fall, the platform will be honed to meet other areas of need. RBC’s support has allowed the purchase of GradCareers, an add-on that assists members with one-to-one mentorship, and the platform will be further refined to support a new Sheridan Black Mentorship Program, which will link Black students with Black alumni to provide targeted support and advice to this group. 

Getting students Career Ready 

In 2018, RBC Future Launch was the founding supporter of the Sheridan Career Ready, Set, Go: Launch Your Future program, which offers a career ready curriculum, and experiential learning, networking and mentorship opportunities. More than 250 students and recent graduates took part during the 2020/21 Academic Year – a time when many students and new grads were preparing to enter the job market in the midst of the pandemic. Students say the program is providing crucial, real-world help to start their careers: “I can’t wait to practise and apply all the information provided for job searching,” said one participant. “Recently I was feeling sad because I was not getting interviews but with (Career Ready’s) information, I was able to identify some mistakes I was (making). Thank you very much for all the information, the Career Ready program was amazing!”

Now, as Sheridan and RBC continue to work together, Morrison says she looks forward to seeing the growth that will be fostered in the future. “This partnership continues to offer tremendous opportunities for our students,” she says. “We will continue to work closely with RBC to provide much-needed resources to help the students, young alumni and youth in our communities to thrive.”
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