Alberta Children's Hospital
Putting fear in its place with help from fundraisers like you
A program designed to help children with autism overcome anxiety is changing the lives of Calgary kids and teens like Isabella, thanks in part to support from people like you.
Facing Your Fears is an established cognitive behavioural therapy geared toward autistic youth. It helps kids identify their worries and tackle them head-on.
It’s part of a five-year research project funded by community donations through events like the global virtual RBC Race for the Kids, and headed by Dr. Carly McMorris, an associate professor at the University of Calgary and a member of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute.
“We know that autistic youth are at a heightened risk of experiencing anxiety, which is often more crippling than the diagnosis – it significantly impacts kids and families,” says McMorris.
“With the families we have been able to enroll in Facing Your Fears, we are seeing dramatic improvements, not just in the kids, but in the quality of life for the entire family.”
The Hodge family is one of many who have benefited already.
Isabella, 13, was diagnosed with autism, confirming suspicions long held by her mom, Jennifer. Her little girl experienced multiple fears that were ever-present and debilitating — fears that held Isabella back from living her best life.
“In the day-to-day, when your child won’t have a bath on their own, when they won’t sleep in their own bed, when they’re afraid of people stopping by the house and you don’t know where it’s all coming from, it’s a lot,” says Jennifer.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a team of caring people to build them back up, too. Guided by a team of experts that included psychologists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists, Jennifer and Isabella spent 14 weeks learning to understand Isabella’s fears and how to dismantle them, one by one.
The program included classes, workbooks designed for both the parent and child, deep breathing techniques, new coping skills and strategies for self-calming, as well as a reward system to encourage Isabella along her journey.
One of the tools that helps them track progress is a method called the Stress-O-Meter, which asks kids to gauge their anxiety on a scale from zero to eight. In the beginning, sleeping alone was a solid eight for Isabella. By the end of the program, it was zero.
“We were very fortunate to get into this program. It was really, really helpful, “says Jennifer. “Will Isabella have new anxieties? Yes, of course. But now I know how to help her overcome them. We have the tools.”
Experts pivoted to a virtual model once the pandemic set in, ensuring families could still benefit from the program in the face of public health restrictions.
McMorris says what they’ve seen with Facing Your Fears already is so encouraging they are growing the program to reach even more families in the community, including kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
By signing up for RBC Race for the Kids, you can help kids like Isabella and so many others in Calgary who need the kind of innovative care and programming that the Centre for Child & Adolescent Mental Health will provide when it opens in the fall of 2022.
The Centre will house a suite of new services, including a walk-in clinic, intensive treatment services and a day hospital, to help young people and their families identify and rapidly manage mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety.
For Jennifer and Isabella, Facing Your Fears was an invaluable and empowering experience and Jennifer hopes the program continues so that more families benefit.
“It’s so important for these kids to learn these coping skills for when they get out there into the world. We are so grateful for the community support that makes this program possible,” she says. “And to know this is all part of research, that’s so important to us, to be part of something that’s going to help more people in the future.”
Helping students achieve their dreams
basis.point Helping students achieve their dreams basis.point’s ambition is to give every child in Ireland equal access to a brighter future by funding evidence-based educational programmes that tackle complex issues arising as children journey through their educational lifecycle to reach their life goals. They offer hope to children who wouldn't normally have access to support structures that allow them to reach their potential.
The Junior Cycle Workshop Programme offered by basis.point aims to highlight higher education as a realistic and achievable goal for students from schools in disadvantaged areas. University campus visits allow them to fully visualise a future in education.
Chris and Daniel are two 14-year-old students at an inner city Dublin school. They live in an area of historic disadvantage with very few role models heading on to third level education. There is little extra cash to spend on education. Lack of confidence and a hesitation to deviate from known paths, coupled with anxiety of the unknown, are constant barriers to overcome when it comes to furthering their education.
Last year, they were offered the chance to participate in the basis.point Junior Cycle Workshop Programme and were inspired by what they saw and experienced. Contrary to their expectations they felt truly accepted within an academic environment that was welcoming, inclusive and non-judgmental.
Instilled with newfound confidence and resilience, both Chris and Daniel are eager to maintain their academic achievement and aspire to go on to third level education.
Explaining his changed perceptions, Daniel said he had previously thought that college would be “just hard work, constant learning and just really tough.”
Experiencing a “lightbulb” moment while attending the campus workshop, he realized “it’s more like you paving your own path into the future, doing what you want to do in your own life,” and adding, “They actually help you there to achieve your dreams.”
By signing up for RBC Race for the Kids, you can help kids like Chris and Daniel and so many others in Ireland who can benefit from basis.point’s holistic approach to improving outcomes. Their range of programmes focus not simply on the nuts and bolts of literacy and numeracy, but also on peripheral soft skills such as self- esteem, confidence, willingness to engage with authority and resilience.
The additional funds raised through RBC Race for the Kids will finance a new Student Wellbeing Programme. The programme will provide extensive supports and activities to all incoming first-years in 14 disadvantaged schools in Ireland. Students will engage in a programme that builds leadership skills, emotional and mental resilience and positive wellbeing.
Many parents also find it difficult to engage with their children in the early teenage years as they cope with the changes that come from entering secondary school. The programme will also provide a series of workshops for parents to support their children through these transitions.
Padraig Kenny, Country Head of RBC I&TS Ireland, said, “We are proud to be supporting basis.point in this year’s RBC Race for the Kids. Education is key to breaking the poverty cycle and improving health, nutrition and opportunities for all children throughout Ireland. basis.point’s work is providing essential support to encourage children from disadvantaged backgrounds to imagine and achieve brighter futures for themselves.”
Since 2016, basis.point has impacted the lives of over 20,000 children and young adults coming from challenging home environments by pledging over €3 million toward evidence-based programmes designed to keep these children in education. Those working with the children note that mental health is the key issue arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic. The knock-on effect is that young people’s resilience, motivation and ambitions have faded away or disappeared utterly. basis.point has pledged to work with its partners to establish programmes to support and help re-build this generation before they are lost.
Boyer Children's Clinic
Giving children and families the opportunity to thrive
In 2012, first-time mother Gloria Wang was encouraged by her geneticist to call Boyer Children’s Clinic in Seattle to have her three-month-old daughter evaluated developmentally. That phone call would change her life, and lead to both her first and second child eventually receiving services at Boyer until they were three years old.
Boyer Children’s Clinic provides early support for infants and toddler services to children with special needs to help them reach their maximum potential and improve their quality of life. Boyer staff conduct regular comprehensive evaluations and work closely with each child’s healthcare providers to accurately diagnose any developmental delays and ensure the child’s needs are met. Additionally, many new children meet one-on-one with Boyer’s medical director for diagnosis and evaluation of program needs.
Through a range of services such as therapy, education, medical care and family support, the clinic’s therapists, nurses, educators, medical director, social worker and family resource coordinators work with each family, like Gloria’s, to create a seamless, coordinated and positive experience.
For Gloria, that meant partnerships with a team of specialists along with a community of Boyer support groups that she still relies on today.
“Boyer was truly a lifesaver for my family in a dark time, and it continues to be a lifesaver for other families in this very dark year,” Gloria said.
That’s why, when she was approached about joining the Boyer Board of Directors several years ago, she didn’t hesitate. And since joining in 2019, she’s seen firsthand other examples of how the clinic makes a difference for the families it serves.
“I can say that my belief in the organization has only grown,” Gloria said. “The leadership and flexibility that the team exhibit – particularly as we continue to face the pandemic – truly inspire me.”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Boyer has committed to finding new and innovative ways to deliver care to children and families, and ensure that all families, regardless of financial circumstances, continue to have equitable access to the clinic’s services. Community partners like RBC, and events like RBC Race for the Kids, help to make that possible.
“Your support gives Boyer families access to critical resources and services, and gives our children the opportunity to thrive,” Gloria said. “There is no greater gift than that.”
Boys and Girls Club Association of HK
RBC sets the pace in helping kids in Hong Kong
Depressed and lacking motivation after her parents divorced when she was young, Irene felt overwhelmed by pressure to perform at school and achieve the high marks required to enter university. It’s a pivotal stage of a young person’s life and Irene credits The Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs Association of Hong Kong (BGCA) for providing valuable support and encouragement when the easier option was to give up. After struggling with her studies and failing her exams, Irene found the energy and confidence to start again. She devoted more time to her studies, re-sat her exams and has been accepted to study business at university.
“I’m from a grass-roots family, my father is a cook and my mother is an assistant,” Irene said. “I felt depressed in those years after my parents’ divorced but I knew that I had to move on. BGCA gave me lots of support during this period. Without them, I might have lost motivation.”
Irene is one of thousands of young people who have benefited from BGCA’s services. Now in its 85th year, BGCA is one of Hong Kong’s oldest non-government organisations dedicated to the welfare of children and youth. BGCA is also Royal Bank of Canada’s long standing RBC Race for the Kids Hong Kong charity partner, with funds raised playing a pivotal role in broadening its already extraordinary reach.
From its head office in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island, BGCA provides a multitude of services, from pre-school education, family and child welfare, and counselling and psychological support. These are delivered through 140 touchpoints to 190,000 people a year, providing educational and emotional support to young people and their families.
Demand for BGCA’s services has increased throughout the pandemic and new services have been introduced to help youth deal with anxiety and stress brought on by COVID-19. Charles Chan, BGCA Executive Director, said anxiety and barriers in interpersonal communication often occur when children and their families were ‘trapped’ under the same roof for long periods of time. These extreme circumstances are taking their toll on emotional and mental health. “In response, BGCA has provided children and young people with emotional counseling services through social media and online platforms to provide support,” Charles said. “We have also developed online seminars to teach young people how to deal with stress and improve their emotions.”
Nurture the young, create the future
RBC Race for the Kids Hong Kong has attracted thousands of people over the years and raised vital funds for BGCA. The bank’s decision to pivot and hold global virtual Races following the onset of the pandemic has enabled RBC and BGCA to continue their partnership, and in 2021 raise much-needed funds to support a new Community Creative Learning Centre (CCLC) and Child Development Fund.
BGCA’s founding ethos “Nurture the Young, Create the Future” resonates with John Chung, Vice President, Foreign Exchange Trader and one of RBC’s Hong Kong Fundraising Champions.
John decided to take a more active role in this year’s Race and volunteered to be a Fundraising Champion to support the charity and encourage his colleagues, friends and family to participate. He is looking forward to joining RBC employees around the globe to support 35 youth charities.
“Not only does BGCA provide meaningful services to children in Hong Kong, their nurturing encourages them to become contributing citizens and raise awareness for young people in need, particularly among disadvantaged groups. It’s very important for us to contribute what we can so that BGCA can continue to strengthen its service. Every little bit helps and together we bring a brighter future.”
Hitting the trails for BGCA
Julie Moore, Associate, APAC Client Experience Group and a 2021 Fundraising Champion, has participated in RBC Race for the Kids in Toronto, London and Hong Kong. This year she plans to hike the distance and enjoy Hong Kong’s spectacular scenery and famous trails.
“I have participated in many RBC Race for the Kids but I thought I would get more involved this year and become a fundraising champion. It’s a great way to stay connected with colleagues in the office, even while working from home and it allows me to interact with functions outside of my direct business line.”
RBC has long supported youth charities and Julie noted that these resources are needed now more than ever.
“Fundraising continues to be significantly impacted by the global pandemic and charities are fighting to provide their services in difficult conditions. I have been incredibly privileged to go essentially unscathed throughout the pandemic, so I would like to give back as much as I can so BGCA can continue to support young people during COVID.”
Caribbean Children's Cancer Fund
Every child deserves a fighting chance against cancer!
The RBC Caribbean Children’s Cancer Fund was created in 2008 to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of Cancer in children under 16 years of age in the Caribbean. To date we have assisted approximately 230 children across the Caribbean.
In 2017, the Race was transitioned from the titled “Race for Hope” to align with the global RBC Race for the Kids (RFTK) series.
In 2019, we donated a flow cytometer valued at TTD$2.5M to the Mt. Hope Children’s Hospital in Trinidad. This vital piece of equipment is used to analyse blood samples and to diagnose and treat Cancer early in children in order to increase their chance of survival.
From inception of the RBC Caribbean Children’s Fund, RBC has partnered with the Trinidad and Tobago Cancer Society, as they educate the public on prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer. The Society also facilitates a support group where survivors can share their experiences, strengths and hopes. Private psychological counselling is also provided to clients, patients, survivors and their families.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted us from hosting our usual in-person Race, the need is still there to support the children. Our last in-person Race, held in 2019 with 4,500 participants, allowed us to raise TTD $1M toward our cause.
The Trinidad and Tobago Race sees strong involvement from RBC employees through fundraising and volunteerism. Over 100 volunteers usually come out to support in various roles on Race day.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions in 2020, in-person fundraising activities were not possible – but the virtual event was a great way to stay connected for our cause! In 2021, with the return of our RFTK Champions, we have seen a resurge of in-person fundraising activities ranging from Zumba classes, to Sip and Paint, to numerous activities in our branch with Leo the Lion. We are hopeful that this will have a positive impact on the funds raised this year.
We also focus on encouraging children supporting children. As such, school engagement and volunteering is largely encouraged at both the Primary (ages 6-11) and Secondary (ages 12-17) school levels.
Our Corporate Sponsors also play a key role to the success of this event. Their engagement, participation and donations are greatly appreciated. Looking ahead to Race weekend, we have already surpassed our 2020 registration figure and are aiming for a strong finish on October 16th and 17th.
We are excited about the new and interactive Race app (available to both Apple and Android users) which allows us all to track training leading up to Race weekend and have fun with the Instagram and Facebook sticker features.
In urging support for this year’s event, we are asking members of our community to come together virtually on Race weekend. Have fun, walk or run, pick your own route, and be safe while doing so – while giving to an important cause as part of a global caring community. A donation of ANY amount towards the RBC Caribbean Children’s Cancer Fund will certainly make a difference.
Every step is a step forward in helping Caribbean children WIN their battles against cancer!
The Greatest Reward
Children’s TV icon Mister Rogers used to tell his young viewers that in times of trouble: “Look for the helpers.” At CHEO there are many helpers. Among them, especially in the darkest hours, is Marcel Lemieux; a child and youth counsellor in CHEO’s Emergency Department (ED). Marcel works the overnight shift. His face is one that family, children and youth see when they turn to CHEO during a mental health crisis.
This 24/7 emergency mental health care was not always available. The position of an overnight ED counsellor was created to fill a void recognized as a major issue. Some families coming to CHEO’s ED at night were waiting too long, sometimes up to 10 hours, to see a counsellor. Often there was no one available until the next morning. To address important feedback, this position was made possible by the support of CHEO Foundation donors whose generosity covered the cost of this critical resource.
This counsellor role was made for Marcel. “I’ve always been someone who likes to listen, and a problem solver,” he explains. “I like being able to adapt and find out-of-the-box ways to help someone when they’re struggling.”
He’s very good at it. Marcel has a kind way about him that makes you feel immediately at ease, like you could tell him anything. Born and raised in Ottawa, now the father of a toddler and a newborn, Marcel says he has found a home at CHEO where he has been helping youth in crisis as part of the mental health team for the past eight years. “Everybody here lifts each other up,” Marcel explains. “Especially when it can be chaotic or even dangerous, I go on shift knowing I’m supported.”
These are challenging times in the realm of mental health care for youth. CHEO’s ED has been reporting a surge in mental health visits since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, joining a chorus of other children’s hospitals declaring a mental health crisis among youth. It’s become evident that access to care is the top mental health need. An innovative program at CHEO known as CAPA – the Choice and Partnership Approach – has a goal of decreasing wait times and improving the mental health care CHEO delivers. This includes streamlining service delivery, as well as empowering patients and families to steward their own mental health. Within CAPA there is a rapid response pathway for kids who have more significant needs but do not necessarily require an inpatient visit. The goal is to have every child and youth seen within two weeks. Implementing virtual care has been key to ensuring that the outpatient mental health encounters can continue to expand to meet rising needs. Within just months of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, 90 percent of all CAPA encounters were delivered virtually, compared to 3 percent the year before.
But when virtual care isn’t an option, Marcel and his team are ready. Pandemic-related loneliness, depression and anxiety continue to rise. “Self-harm and suicidal thoughts, profound difficulty coping,” Marcel counts some of the most urgent issues off on his fingers. “We’ve also seen many kids present with eating disorders as well.”
When lockdowns and true isolation began in March 2020, things were relatively quiet at CHEO, but as the pandemic took hold, impacting the day-to-day lives of kids, Marcel and the team were seeing far more patients present to the Emergency Department. The cases were more complex and needed a higher level of care. “We were seeing sometimes eight patients a night, up from one or two,” he says shaking his head. “And it isn’t over.” Marcel expects children and youth will continue to struggle with things like social anxiety with the return to school and life post-covid.
But he and his team are encouraged by community response to the crisis. “Awareness becomes action,” Marcel explains. “It’s energizing for us when people outside of CHEO see there’s a mental health need and respond with support. I would love to see it continue.”
There are still gaps in mental health care across the board, but things are moving in the right direction. “In an ideal world, mental health would be treated like any physical health problem, minus the stigma. Struggling is a part of life. It’s how we build resiliency,” Marcel says. “For our kids, we need to normalize that it’s okay to feel anger and sadness, then teach them how to process it and develop the skills to cope.”
For Marcel and the mental health care team at CHEO, their role is to intervene in a crisis so youth and their families can return home, safely, equipped with tools and resources to help them move forward. “It’s a privilege to be there with them, in that moment, comforting and guiding them through,” Marcel says. “Helping a family who is struggling see some light at the end of the tunnel is what keeps us all going,” he says with a smile.
“I’m honest. I let them know that things can get better. I’m just so grateful to everyone who has made it possible for us to be here when they need us.”
CHU Sainte Justine's Foundation
Getting Back on Track
It was October 17, 2020. Thierry was riding his scooter in his hometown of Sainte-Hélene-de-Mancebourg, in the Abitibi region, on a way to a friend’s house. It was a brisk autumn evening like any other… until it wasn’t. Thierry was struck by an oncoming car. His life would never be the same again.
It was a brutal head-on collision. His head was slammed against the car’s windshield and he was sent flying 30 feet into the air. When he eventually came to, he was shocked to learn one of his legs had been severed. About the same time, his mother, Suzie, was getting the call that no parent of a teenager ever wants to hear.
“Some 25 minutes after his accident, the phone rang. We were told Thierry was conscious, but his condition was very serious.” - Suzie Francoeur, Thierry’s mom.
The love of a community.
Thierry was rushed to the La Sarre hospital in Abitibi. Every second counted. He was stabilized and medevacked to Sainte-Justine to get the specialized care he needed. He had two fractured vertebrae and his kidneys were badly damaged. His case was taken over by the trauma team, who handles 75% of the province’s most serious pediatric accidents.
The entire community of Sainte-Hélène-de-Mancebourg rallied behind Thierry’s recovery, as did the entire community at Sainte-Justine: the trauma care, surgical, physical therapy, occupational therapy and pain management teams, along with a psychologist and a social worker, not to mention a whole network of donors.
Standing tall, with your support.
Although nothing could be done to save Thierry’s lower leg, the healthcare professionals at Sainte-Justine were able to graft the skin from under his foot onto the injured area to help him heal.
Five days following the skin transplant, Thierry was already standing again. He was discharged after only 10 days in the hospital. Today, he has a prosthetic that will help him get things back on track. He is moving forward, one step at a time, buoyed by his gratitude toward Sainte-Justine and inspired by your generosity.
The RBC Race for Kids: One year later.
Thierry wants to give back to the hospital that took such good care of him. As an ambassador for the RBC Race for Kids, he would like to invite you to be a part of this virtual Race that will take place worldwide on October 16 and 17. He will be lacing up for Sainte-Justine from his home in Abitibi, alongside his family and friends.
Thanks for joining him by running or walking 1, 3, 5, 10 or 15 kilometres in your own community. You can download the RBC Race for the Kids app to follow your fellow participants’ progress and track and share your own. People of all ages, including children, are welcome to register.
“Sainte-Justine changed my life. Their expertise, their human touch and the state-of-the-art technology are the reason I am back on my feet. By giving to the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation, you will be changing the lives of kids like me, all around the province.” - Thierry
These past months have driven home the power of the word “together.” By signing up for this virtual race, you will be giving Sainte-Justine the tools to stay at the forefront of pediatric care and help young patients like Thierry. And allow them to keep looking for answers, no matter how long they take to find.
Together, let’s lace up for Sainte-Justine!
Comer Children's Hospital
Hannah Jones made a choice to change her diet and, ultimately, her life.
Support Comer Children’s Hospital to help families like the Jones
Diagnosed with pediatric epilepsy in 2011, Hannah Jones has been off and on epilepsy medications that caused deteriorating stomach issues, migraines, and excess weight gain. The upbeat young woman was forced to miss more than 23 days of school her junior year of high school because of seizures and side effects from her medications.
When she was in high school, her doctor, Chalongchai Phitsanuwong, MD, at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital, shared with Hannah and her mom, Tonya Jones, a possible solution—the ketogenic diet—a therapy prescribed for the treatment of pediatric epilepsy when medications fail.
Dr. Phitsanuwong, who Hannah affectionately calls "Dr. P," is a pediatric neurologist and epileptologist in the Level 4 Pediatric Epilepsy Center at Comer Children’s. He offered Hannah and her family an option to try the diet before moving forward with the Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) procedure. During the procedure, a device is inserted into the chest to block the electrical impulses that cause seizures.
“Hannah has tried and failed so many medications and even combinations of medications since her diagnosis," Tonya said. Deciding it was worth a shot, Hannah chose to give the diet a chance before the procedure. Her decision has paid off.
“The diet has worked so successfully that Hannah was able to decrease medications that she has been on," Tonya said.
Now a 20-year-old, Hannah's complications, from stomach issues to headaches, are gone. Her seizures have wound down to nearly zero and she is attending nursing school, volunteering at Comer Children’s and making masks for children during the COVID-19 pandemic, and volunteering for a non-profit therapeutic horse stable to help children with disabilities build confidence. She has also served as the honorary team captain for the RBC Race for the Kids at Comer Children’s, which raises money for groundbreaking pediatric research at the hospital.
"I want others to know that the diet is not impossible to do," Hannah said. “Just simply changing your diet can change the way you feel."
Before starting the diet, Hannah and Tonya consulted with Stephanie Schimpf, a ketogenic dietitian. Schimpf along with Dr. Phitsanuwong helped support the family through the diet, which is customized to each person’s calorie requirements and nutritional status.
The ketogenic diet consists of a high percentage of calories from fat, with an adequate amount of protein and low percentage of carbohydrate intake. This high-fat, low-carbohydrate combination causes the production of ketone bodies creating a ketosis state. It is believed that the process of ketosis has an anti-seizure effect, which has helped Hannah to calm her seizures.
After Hannah started the diet, Schimpf checked up on Hannah and provided suggestions for meals while she traveled on vacation or new ideas for foods to try. “There were times we would just call her and Stephanie would pick up,” Tonya said.
For Tonya, she finds it hard to believe how impactful the diet has been and that Hannah’s new favorite food is zucchini. For Hannah, she says she is happy for the calm it’s provided as she attends nursing school to help make a difference for other young women like herself.
Hannah’s story is only one example of the impact Comer Children’s has on families’ lives.
Join Hannah by supporting the global, virtual 2021 RBC Race for the Kids to raise money for groundbreaking research at Comer Children’s. Since the Race’s inception, our supporters have raised more than $3 million for pediatric research for projects from asthma to cancer.
Last year, RBC Race for the Kids supported the following areas at Comer Children’s:
- Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a chronic, debilitating genetic disorder diagnosed at birth. Pain is the hallmark of the disease and the most common reason SCD patients come into the emergency room. Comer Children’s researchers are creating a national registry of SCD patient data to help identify patients most at risk for medical complications.
- Black American children are at a higher risk for suboptimal neurodevelopment than White American children. Our researchers are investigating the role the microbiome plays in prenatal stress and infant development in Black mothers on the South Side of Chicago. The project is exploring whether a nutritional supplement can improve a mother’s stress level during pregnancy in order to improve infant outcomes.
- Birth defects are the number one cause of death among newborns. Internationally recognized researcher, Ivan Moskowitz, MD, PhD, is investigating a pathway that communicates between cells—the Hedgehog signaling pathway—to hopefully better understand birth defects in children.
Join us to continue to tackle childhood illnesses and help save kids’ lives! Make a donation to support Comer Children’s today.
11-year-old Rania‘s journey to beat financial barriers
How RBC and Die Arche can help to make dreams come true for youth from disadvantaged backgrounds
11-year-old Rania has been coming to the facilities at Die Arche, Frankfurt since she was in elementary school. Her enthusiasm, empathy, reliability and team spirit make her well known to all those around her, whether it’s Die Arche staff or other young people using our services.
Die Arche is a place that supports socially disadvantaged children and young people in the inner cities of Germany. They help youth find and secure opportunities for development to lead a fulfilling future – and for Rania, that opportunity was playing competitive soccer.
Rania’s passion for sport was recognised early on and has only grown over the years since we’ve known her. Whether it was table tennis, inline skating or basketball, you could always find Rania taking part, but where she really shined was on the soccer pitch.
For some time, Rania thought about playing soccer at a higher level, and told her mother about her dreams. However, the local athletics club required an email form to register and a fee to play – though it sounds simple, it wasn’t for Rania and her mother. They didn’t have a computer at home, money to spare from their monthly budget or a car to take them to and from the training grounds where Rania would be expected to be multiple times a week.
Shame began to creep into Rania’s mother’s thoughts:
“What else besides talent is needed to play soccer at a higher level?”
“How can we afford jerseys and equipment for training three times a week and games on the weekend?”
“Will Rania always need to be picked up by another family and will I never be able to return the favour?”
When Rania and her mother came to Die Arche looking for help with the application process, they were provided with computers at our facilities to complete the necessary forms that needed signing and gained financial support from Die Arche donors. The funds helped to secure a monthly train pass that gets Rania safely to and from practice and games, and found her suitable sports gear to wear on the pitch.
Every day, the staff at Die Arche meet many talented young people, and it can be challenging for them to ask for help. It is imperative that relationships, both with the children and with their families, are built in a safe space. We are incredibly appreciative of the fact that families share their stories with us and encourage them to make contact with us, so we can support them in fulfilling their dreams.
It is often completely out of young people’s control to fight the barriers that they encounter and Die Arche would like to make more stories like Rania’s possible. We are so grateful to be partnering with Royal Bank of Canada for the upcoming RBC Race for the Kids to raise awareness and vital funds for children in need. We, alongside Rania, look forward to lacing up on the virtual start line!
Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity
Four years old, three heart surgeries, two virtual races and one great story!
Amelia-Rose, aged four, is looking forward to taking part in her second global, virtual RBC Race for the Kids this year along with mum Steph and dad James. We asked Steph and James to share their story.
At Steph’s 20-week scan, Amelia-Rose, who is now aged four, was diagnosed with a rare heart condition which caused a vascular ring to form around her trachea and oesophagus. Steph was able to continue with her pregnancy and everything else was normal, but three months after she was born, Amelia-Rose was also diagnosed with an atrial septal defect (ASD) – a hole in the heart.
In December 2017, when Amelia-Rose was just a few months old, she had her first heart surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) to repair the vascular ring. They were able to go home after a couple of days, but soon after, Amelia-Rose started deteriorating.
Unfortunately, she developed a rare complication known as chylothorax – a fatty fluid leaked into her chest cavity and caused her left lung to collapse. On New Year’s Day 2018, Amelia-Rose was blue-lighted to GOSH and had to have emergency surgery to insert a chest drain to remove all the fluid from around her lung. Steph and James, Amelia’s parents, said: “It was incredibly frightening, but she got through it.”
After her second surgery, while Amelia-Rose was recovering, Steph and James were able to stay at the GOSH Charity-funded parent accommodation. “The facilities we were given were second to none. When we first arrived with Amelia-Rose in the early hours of the morning, we were given emergency accommodation in Weston House. A day or two after that, we moved 10 minutes from the hospital to a shared house. We had a room that had a bathroom in it, two beds, a shared kitchen and a front room. Had parent accommodation not been available, I don’t know where we would have been able to stay. Those facilities were an absolute godsend – they’ve been a lifesaver to us.”
In December 2018, a year after her first surgery, Amelia-Rose started experiencing recurrent wheezing and had multiple hospital admissions for bronchiolitis. Her ASD which doctors had hoped would close by itself, would need to be surgically closed instead.
On the 14 December, Amelia-Rose’s hole in her heart was closed up through keyhole surgery. “That was a big weight off our shoulders, as it meant we didn’t have to go through open heart surgery again,” her parents said.
Once again, Steph and James were supported by charity-funded parent accommodation while Amelia-Rose was treated at GOSH. “We stayed in the same parent accommodation for almost two weeks, in the same room. It was great to be somewhere we knew already.”
Amelia-Rose recovered well from her surgery, but is still under the care of the cardiac and respiratory teams at GOSH. “She has a lung condition where her bronchial tubes are narrowed and floppy, so she may have to have another surgery in the future. But we feel very comfortable because we know that she will be in the safest hands possible, not just in the country, but in the world. GOSH has done wonders for our little girl.”
After their experience at GOSH, Steph and James are always looking for opportunities to give something back and this year will be the third year in a row they have taken part in RBC Race for the Kids.
Steph says: “In 2019, I picked up a leaflet at the hospital about RBC Race for the Kids and I wanted to give it a go. The weather was terrible that day, but it was still so much fun! No one cared about the weather – everyone had a smile on their face and we were all rallying together for a great cause. We had a top personalised for Amelia with ‘Amelia’s Army’ on the back. She ran a lot of the way without sounding wheezy or out of breath, which was incredible. Her face when she came across the finish line was a picture – when she got her medal, she looked so proud. We took part in all the activities on the day and all had our faces painted – Amelia insisted that Daddy had a tiger on his face!”
Last year, Steph, James and Amelia-Rose also took part in the first ever global, virtual RBC Race for the Kids, choosing to do their own route over 10km.
“We thoroughly enjoyed our second year, even though it was a bit different. We fed ducks and horses on the way and Amelia had a great time.”
This year, they will be taking part again and are really looking forward to it. “Our own fundraising through RBC Race for the Kids has given us a sense of joy,” James said. “GOSH is the most amazing hospital and we’re so grateful Amelia continues to be under their care. Ultimately, GOSH saved our little girl and made her the cheeky little person she is today.”
Ronald McDonald House Charity, Upper MidWest
Keeping families together
Keeping families together In May 2021, Luke Olson suffered a traumatic injury as a result of a fall and was taken to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minnesota. As he was hospitalized for a lengthy period of treatment and recovery, his parents, Sarah and Paul, were able to be nearby thanks to the support of Ronald McDonald House Charities, Upper Midwest – support that helped keep their family together at a time when they needed it the most.
While Luke Olson received treatment for a traumatic injury, his family was able to stay close by thanks to Ronald McDonald House Charities, Upper Midwest.
Ronald McDonald House Charities, Upper Midwest provides housing, meals, schooling and other essential services to families like the Olsons dealing with a child’s serious illness or injury and hospitalization. The organization’s five different residential locations throughout Minnesota feature more than 75 private rooms, dinners cooked by volunteers every night, pantries and kitchens, workout and exercise rooms, laundry facilities, and more.
Additionally, the Ronald McDonald House K-12 School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, enables patients and siblings of patients to attend school during extended periods of hospitalization. The school offers a small class size and cross-age learning opportunities, individual learning plans, field trips and special activities, and a welcoming and supportive classroom environment to ensure kids can still learn during a difficult period in their or their family’s lives.
Families staying at a Ronald McDonald House receive complimentary meals, often cooked by volunteers.
While Luke was hospitalized, the Olson family stayed at the Ronald McDonald Family Room located in the hospital where he received treatment. There, through complimentary lodging, meals and more, they found a calm and peaceful respite from the busy and stressful hospital environment. And most importantly, they were able to stay just steps away from Luke when he needed his family the most.
“We are so thankful that such a beautiful place exists to support families during some of the most challenging days of their lives,” said Sarah Olson.
The Olson family is just one of the more than 6,700 families that Ronald McDonald House Charities, Upper Midwest expects to serve in 2021, and community support goes a long way in helping the organization provide essential services to the families that depend on it during their time of need.
Ronald McDonald House Charities, Upper Midwest helps families stay together during a child’s health crisis.
Now, the Olsons are motivated to give back to Ronald McDonald House Charities, Upper Midwest because of the “amazing support” they received during Luke’s hospitalization, Sarah said. That sentiment is echoed each year at the RBC Race for the Kids Family Walk in St. Paul, Minnesota, as hundreds of families who have stayed at a Ronald McDonald House in the past gather together to celebrate the organization and the significant impact it has had on each and every one of them.
By participating in the global RBC Race for the Kids and supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities, Upper Midwest, you will help keep families together during a stressful and challenging time, when parents can’t focus on anything but the health of their child. You will help provide a peace of mind for those families when that’s needed more than ever.
Ronald McDonald House Charities Sydney
Families Recovering Together
"We’ve all struggled with isolation over the last little while, but nothing is more isolating than being away from home while your child undergoes treatment." Ryan Rex, Vice President, Corporate Banking, RBC Capital Markets
One moment can turn a family’s world upside down. Fifteen year-old Louie was in his hometown of Goulburn, 195 kilometers south-west of Sydney, when an accident left him with a subdural haematoma and multiple skull fractures.
Louie was rushed to Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick where he had part of his skull removed to relieve the pressure on his brain, and for the next two weeks his father Louis barely left his side. As the hours and days melted into each other, he ate an occasional meal in his son’s ward until he received an invitation to breakfast prepared by volunteers at Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Sydney, RBC Australia’s longstanding RBC Race for the Kids charity partner.
“I was just overwhelmed,” Louis said. “But when I went to the House for that first real breakfast, it was like all the stress of that morning washed off me. I ate the breakfast and I shared a couple of stories with a few of people here and then I went back up to the ward with Louie again. It was just the break I needed.”
As Louie’s health improved, Louis stayed with him at the House, which allowed them to move back and forth to the hospital for treatment and join other families for dinners also prepared by corporate volunteers. “It was like a human connection. It provided for people who were having a really difficult time in their life, to be connected in some way and human connection is the thing that sort of brings us all together,” Louis said.
RBC has proudly supported RMHC Sydney for four years and employees regularly sign up for their Home for Dinner Program (COVID-19 permitting). Taking a few hours of your day seems like a simple thing to do but the impact on families and volunteers is immense.
Ryan Rex, Vice President, Corporate Banking at RBC Capital Markets has participated in the Home for Dinner program and said the opportunity to talk with families and listen to their experiences helped him appreciate how important RMHC Sydney’s services were.
“On the occasions I’ve volunteered, the house was at capacity which had a big impact on everyone because so many people were going through such a difficult time,” Ryan said. “Sharing dinner with the families, you get to hear their stories and exactly what the house means to them.”
Ryan shared a table with families who were at the beginning and end of their journeys – one spending their first night in the house and another who had been there for 11 weeks. He also learnt firsthand what a difference the house makes to people who live outside of Sydney when his best friend’s family spent time there while their son was treated for leukemia.
“RMHC Sydney is really a home away from home for families during the most trying of circumstances. The house hosts up to 750 family visits each year and is often at capacity which says a lot about how valuable these services are,” said Ryan.
As the countdown begins for this year’s RBC Race for the Kids, Race champions such as Lisa Chan, Analyst, Governance Coordinator at RBC Capital Markets will help organize fundraising activities to support the renovation of the bathroom and kitchen in an isolation unit at the House. Last year, funds raised from RBC Race for the Kids Australia enabled RMHC Sydney to renovate their family room, a space comprising living and dining areas, as well as a kitchen, bathroom, laundry and sleeping facilities, that is available to families whose children are undergoing inpatient or outpatient treatment.
This year’s race will be Lisa’s second and it will again be virtual because of the ongoing impact of COVID-19. “We’re living in uncertain times and it can be easy to focus only on those around us but the need from charity partners like RMHC Sydney hasn’t stopped because of the pandemic,” Lisa said. “RMHC Sydney provides such an important space for children and their families when they are at their most vulnerable and I am really excited to be onboard as a fundraising champion in Sydney to support this cause.”
As for Louie, he still has a long way to go with his recovery, but his future is positive. His family are hoping he will make a full recovery and fulfill his ambition of one day becoming a nurse.
How a navigator helped our daughter
Thanks to RBC Race for the Kids Toronto, thousands of youth and their families have found the mental health care they need.
This is one family’s journey.
Anne (whose name has been changed for privacy purposes) credits Sunnybrook’s Family Navigation Project (FNP) for turning family chaos into harmony.
About five years ago, she noticed her teenage daughter’s mental health eroding.
“She became rebellious, fell in with a rough group of kids and began using drugs,” says Anne. “I didn’t recognize who my daughter was anymore and felt helpless.”
The family contacted their doctor who recommended they see an adolescent psychiatrist. The psychiatrist then directed them to a group of psychologists.
“After months of skills training and individual and family therapy, we were no further ahead,” says Anne. “We were being bounced around in an unwieldy system that was not able to meet our family’s needs.”
Things got worse. In grade 10, Anne’s daughter dropped out of school and her self-esteem plummeted. At times she was violent, putting herself and her family at risk.
“We considered sending her to a group home or residential treatment centre. We were at a complete loss,” says Anne.
Eventually, Anne heard about the FNP. This free service pairs youth (aged 13 to 26) who have mental health and/or addictions challenges, and their families, with clinically trained navigators who connect them with the services they urgently need.
Anne was matched with FNP navigator Shira. “She was so supportive and empathetic to my situation,” says Anne.
Shira connected the family with a relational psychotherapist whom she thought would work well with the family. “As navigators,” says Shira, “we find the nuance in what the family is looking for and make suggestions we think will match personality-wise and therapy-wise.”
The therapist Shira suggested was indeed a good fit “His approach was simple and unlike anything we had experienced previously. It was about human connection, love and understanding,” says Anne.
Four years later, the family is on the path to healing, and Anne’s daughter is planning to go to college in the fall.
Anne is proud of the work her family has done and is exceedingly grateful to Shira and FNP. “I don’t know where we would be today if we hadn’t found them. We got our daughter back and we are forever grateful.”
The support of RBC Race for the Kids Toronto is critical for the FNP – which is fully funded by the Race and generous donors. By participating in the Race, you’ll be helping families like Anne and her daughter. You’ll be making a difference for young people in need.
To learn more about the Family Navigation Project at Sunnybrook, please visit their website.
Sur les bancs de l’école
A story about James, age 5
For three years, five-year-old James has been receiving support from Sur les bancs de l’école, a non-profit that helps families of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Through the association, he receives cognitive remediation therapy to mitigate the effects of his condition, along with an in-class support person, without whom he would not be able to attend school—an amazing opportunity for him since 40,000 children with autism in France are not enrolled in school!
Testimonial from James’ parents, Alex and Elodie
“This is the only association of its kind in France and it makes a huge difference for kids and teens with autism. It also helps parents since their children’s therapy is coordinated and grouped together. James, my five-year-old son, has been using the association’s services for three years and has made absolutely phenomenal progress, largely thanks to Sur les bancs de l’école. He’s already doing things we never would have imagined possible for him (like being potty-trained at five years old or counting to 20!). With therapy and the right setting, our children with autism can become productive members of the community. With donations, we can help more people by bringing the association’s work into other French regions.”
Alex and Elodie, parents of James (age 5)
Since preschool, James has been seeing Laura Balcells, a psychologist who specializes in autism spectrum disorder and learning disabilities and is partnered with the association. She has been treating children and teenagers for four years. Cognitive remediation therapy involves treating cognitive impairments by reinforcing cognitive skills or offsetting cognitive impairments to improve independence in children.
Laura, what is your role with James?
“I use strategies to reinforce his cognitive skills and help him advance in all aspects of his learning (academic, social, behavioural). James visits the association once per week during the school year.
I also supervise his in-class support person every week. I help him work through some of his problems and find suitable accommodations, since each day and every situation is different.
After each session, I write up reports for his parents explaining the exercises and his progress. This also lets me coordinate with other professionals partnered with the association, mainly his speech therapist and his psychomotor therapist, Florent Legendre. We regularly discuss James’ progress and areas for improvement.”
Do you have any concrete examples?
“I adjust the setting according to James’ difficulties to reduce the cognitive load of certain activities using specific accommodations. I do this using visual aids since James can’t always understand verbal instructions and it’s much more useful for him. The visual aids help him figure things out and better understand situations, how to perform activities and permanently retain instructions and information in the long term. I usually use pictograms, but if it’s not clear for him, drawing in front of him is the best way to communicate with him. This method is effective for all aspects of his learning: counting, playing, brushing teeth, understanding and expressing his emotions and even recognizing them in other people.
I discuss the exercises with James’ parents and his in-class support person, since doing them over again at school and at home helps him absorb the concepts at his own pace.
This process requires patience and must be repeated regularly, which is why it’s so important for the other therapists, in-class support person and family to work as partners. It’s vital that everyone be involved and communicate throughout the year. Ultimately, the goal is to empower James and have him continue going to school.”
Laura Balcells, Psychologist
Psychomotor skills and behavioural management
Florent is James’ psychomotor therapist. For 16 years, he has specialized in autism spectrum disorder and its range of sensory characteristics. He has been an association partner for 12 years and also teaches, mainly as the autism training supervisor at the IRTS de Reims-Champagne Ardenne (regional institute of social work).
Florent, what is your role with James?
“James needs to work on managing his behaviour and emotions. The goal is for James to progress in his fundamental learning using a structured, sensory approach. Due to his disorder, he needs special guidance. I use methods to guide him and help him structure his movements step by step based on his sensory needs.”
Do you have any examples?
“To help him with tying his shoes, I work on kinesthetic memory, or proprioception, which is spatial awareness of your body and its movements. I guide him visually by pointing a light at an object or making sounds while tying my shoes so that he understands how to tie them and can reproduce the movement afterwards. I also guide him by lightly pressing his fingers without speaking or explaining the movements as they happen, since we’re communicating through our senses. The goal is for him to fully grasp and reproduce the action completely on his own.
I also help him handle his work. James needs special guidance for this as well. I discuss the importance of managing emotions with his parents and support person to provide them with methods and tools to help his development. James has auditory and tactile hypersensitivity, which prevents him from performing various day-to-day tasks. He is easily distracted by details that most people wouldn’t notice. He sometimes can’t understand things due to overstimulation from his surroundings and an inability to process a lot of information at once. Bright lights and noisy places can upset him.
I provide sensory guidance so that he can reproduce what he’s learned, which is essential for his education. This year, we’re working a lot on fine psychomotor skills, especially holding and using writing implements.”
Florent Legendre, Psychomotor Therapist
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), commonly known as autism, is a disability and lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that affects 700,000 people in France, including 100,000 youth under the age of 20 (1 in 100 births). It is estimated that 40% of these children are not enrolled in school.
Your support for RBC Race for the Kids is vital for our association to support hundreds of families and children with autism who would have nowhere else to turn!
Thank you for your involvement!
University of West Indies, Cave Hill Campus
Disasters Threaten Caribbean Students’ University Dream
First it was the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, the La Soufriere Volcano on the island of Saint Vincent erupted in April 2021, spewing volcanic ash across the north of that island, also blanketing neighbouring Barbados and causing another brutal economic blow. Next came Hurricane Elsa in July 2021. It was the first hurricane to impact Barbados since 1955. More than 2,000 houses were damaged or completely destroyed.
“These back-to-back disasters are having a severely negative impact on our students from Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean now studying at The University of the West Indies (The UWI), Cave Hill Campus in Barbados, as well as those who dream of getting a university education,” reports Sonia Johnson, Business Development Officer at the Campus. She has been the charity lead for organizing the RBC Race for the Kids in Barbados since its inception in 2017. “Many of our students from around the region come from single parent homes and are the first in their family to attend university. Many come from very modest socio-economic circumstances so these recent disasters cause tremendous displacement in their lives that can result in serious emotional distress leading to under-performance in their studies or their dropping out altogether,” she explains.
Cave Hill is one of five campuses of The UWI, one of the Caribbean’s most longstanding English-speaking universities. It has been ranked in the top 40 higher education institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean by the prestigious Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Among its alumni are 14 current or former Prime Ministers of Caribbean island states and many other leaders in government, business and industry, both in the region and internationally. “We are very conscious that among the ranks of our current student cohorts are future Caribbean leaders. We see the talent and the potential. Higher education has always been pivotal to social and economic advancement for Caribbean families. That is why we pull together as a community to take advantage of the opportunity that the RBC Race for the Kids presents to raise funds for scholarships and grants so no student is left behind because of financial difficulties. This is critical now more than ever,” Johnson adds.
Every year, the RBC Race for the Kids planning team is made up of staff, student and alumni volunteers who work diligently as “Race champions” to rally support for what is one of the most highly anticipated family outdoor events on the Campus’ calendar. The Race brings the Campus community closer together and everyone enjoys the soca aerobics fitness sessions and the healthy rivalry stimulated by many creative and humourous videos produced in the lead up to the event. The Campus Principal, Deans, members of faculty, current and staff, Student Guild’s leadership and members, and the Alumni Association all participate in the national Race promotion. Johnson notes that making the switch to a virtual Race has its challenges, but also presents a wonderful opportunity to garner support for the cause from around the globe.
Lisa Codrington, Planning Assistant in the Office of Institutional Planning and Infrastructural Services, has been a Race champion since its 2017 inception.
“Serving as a Race champion has allowed me to engage more with the Campus community, make lasting friendships and, overall, challenged me to improve my fitness while motivating others,” she says. “This initiative not only supports The UWI’s charitable goal of providing scholarships and other grants for students in dire financial need, it also promotes the importance of physical and mental wellness and fosters good community spirit. Our assistance is needed now much more than ever. As a Race champion, I am committed to raising awareness, rallying support and encouraging participation.”
Over the past five years, the RBC Race for the Kids raised US$147,000 to fund 59 scholarships for brilliant, well deserving students in Barbados. Of this amount, US$53,500 went to the Campus’ mental health First Year Experience (FYE) programme and US$11,465 to the Student Hardship Fund. The beneficiaries of the effort are extremely appreciative.
Shania Rodgers says that the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Barbados in 2020, resulting in a national lockdown and the end of most face-to-face classes at the university, “changed everything” for her as it did for most students. “The new online teaching environment proved difficult for me and I also was in need of a new computer to efficiently carry out my studies. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, I could not continue my part-time job on Campus and other financial expenses proved a greater priority for my household. The RBC scholarship greatly aided me through these difficult times as it afforded me the opportunity to purchase a new laptop for my studies and I was able to undergo a dental surgery to resolve a medical issue I was facing at that time. Now I am happy to say that I have successfully completed my degree and shall be graduating in October 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance with First Class Honours. I am forever grateful to have been a recipient of an RBC Race for the Kids scholarship.”
Kamilah Nakuda won an RBC Race for the Kids scholarship in 2018 and graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Management with Upper Second Class Honours. As a Muslim, Kamilah is in a minority in Barbadian society as she was at the University. "My confidence and my ability to believe in myself improved drastically while at UWI,” says Kamilah. “Because of the scholarship, I was able to commit wholly to achieving my highest potential in my studies and also prove to myself that what I want is possible and purposeful. Some before me were not fortunate enough to pursue their dreams of a quality higher education. It is my hope to inspire young girls in my community to work hard, raise their voices and create positive change in the world." She is now working in Human Resources at one of the Caribbean’s largest conglomerates.
Amoury Beckles benefited from the RBC Race for the Kids both as a mentee and mentor in the FYE Programme, which he describes as “the cornerstone of his development”. He also won a scholarship in 2020. “The RBC Race for the Kids scholarship reduced the excessive burden on my mother so she could focus her limited funds during this period of uncertainty towards other expenses,” says Amoury. “Winning the scholarship was a tremendous achievement. It was not only about the money involved but, the realization that someone else has recognized my hard work and is willing to support my growth towards my career path.” Amoury will graduate this October with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance.
In urging support for this year’s event, Campus Principal Professor Clive Landis commended the RBC Race for the Kids as “an excellent way to promote good mental health and have fun safely with friends and family, while giving to an important cause as part of a global caring community.”
A Partnership Transforming the Lives of NYC Youth
See the most recent RBC Race for the Kids New York in 2019
Youth INC’s mission is to transform the lives of NYC youth by empowering the nonprofit organizations that serve them. We share a vision with RBC that thriving organizations equal thriving youth. Regardless of their zip code, we believe young people should have equitable access to opportunity to actualize their dreams and realize their potential.
Since the beginning of Youth INC’s partnership with RBC in 2015, RBC and its employees have raised nearly $16M for Youth INC and our Nonprofit Partners! Between RBC Race for the Kids, RBC Charity Day for Kids, RBC Paddle Battle, intern volunteer days, employee fundraising, gift matching, and board placement fundraising, RBC and its employees are always up to a fundraising challenge!
Youth INC launched the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on our Nonprofit Partner organizations. We issued $1M in unrestricted cash grants to every organization in our Network at the end of 2020, with more to come!
“There is a saying ‘One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.’ Roads to Success is forever grateful for Youth INC and each member of the team for standing up by us during the storm. The Youth INC Response and Recovery Grant allows us the opportunity to show our youth that they are not alone. Thank you for allowing our light to shine through the darkness.” – Lisa Recio, Roads to Success
On behalf of our Nonprofit Partners and the 200,000 NYC young people they serve, thank you for your continued partnership!
Youth INC Program Spotlight: Get on Board
Youth INC’s Get on Board Program prepares and matches corporate professionals with nonprofit organizations serving some of the most vulnerable youth in New York City.
Why the Get on Board Program?
- Youth INC performs extensive due diligence and is in constant communication with nonprofit leadership.
- Partner nonprofits are small to mid-sized, which means board members’ expertise and guidance will immediately impact the nonprofit.
- Board service is an opportunity to further develop your leadership skills while delivering opportunities for the city’s youth from under-resourced communities.
- Overall, Youth INC has trained more than 3,500 corporate professionals as potential nonprofit board members.
Fueled by RBC, Our Partnership Created Lasting Impact!
- Between 2014 – 2020, 31 RBC employees serve on the boards of 25 nonprofits in the Youth INC Nonprofit Network. Through our Get on Board Program, Youth INC has placed 22 of those 31 RBC employees.
- RBC board placements collectively raised over $1.6 million for their nonprofits! RBC employees placed through the Get on Board Program account for over $1.2 million of the funds raised.
An RBC Employee’s Positive Experience:
- “I wanted to let you know that I’ve been placed with the Minds Matter of NYC Board (!) and to thank you for your guidance through this process. Youth INC was instrumental in getting me to this position – without it, I wouldn’t have known where to start or where to look so I really appreciate the nonprofit matching and guidance that Youth INC provides.” – Diana Lee, RBC Capital Markets and Board Member of Minds Matters NYC