MaRS’ Studio Y Officially Unveils Cohort of Young Leaders

MaRS has officially unveiled its new Studio Y program cohort of 25 high-potential young leaders. The ceremony took place this morning at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, with a “minister’s challenge” from provincial politician Teresa Piruzza.

Twenty-six young people from across Ontario have been selected to participate in the program, which began on January 6, 2014. Officially, its called “Studio Y: Ontario’s Youth Social Impact and Leadership Academy”. We briefly previewed the ceremony yesterday.

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 participants’ leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurial skills, to spur social change.

In a short speech, Piruzza reminded people that the program came about because of the public funds that MaRS is receiving ($10 million in a five-year leadership from the Ontario Liberals). “Our government is investing directly in the great potential of our young people and in a better future for all Ontarians,” said Piruzza. “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.”

She challenged the cohort of young people 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.

Each year a new cohort will be selected 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 receive $25,000 in direct financial assistance.

Among the 26 participants are some pretty impressive young leaders. Abid Virani, a Torontonian who attended the University of Guelph, was named to a “Top 20 Under 20” list. Laura Suen is a University of Toronto physicist whose research experience spans the fields of dark matter, anti-matter, lasers, gamma radiation and biophysics. Meanwhile, Shane Dabor is an 18-year-old “hackademic” from Brantford who likes to explore “how technology can be used to reimagine education on a global scale.” Nearly all 26 have impressive stories that can be read here.

“Studio Y is about the incredible positive change young people can achieve for themselves and others when they are given the right supports,” said Studio Y director Hamoon Ekhtiari. “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.”

Studio Y will encourage its cohort 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’ll 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.

Photo from @MaRSDD twitter.



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