Youth helping youth in Surrey with Coast Capital funding initiative

SURREY — You’ve got a great idea for a youth-inspired business plan. You’ve put in the time and research to ensure it’s viable. There’s just one problem. You don’t have the money to start it up.

That might not be a problem, according to Zenaida Telfair, one of eight members of the Fraser Valley Leaders Community Council. She and her team help the Surrey-based Coast Capital Credit Union decide where to invest large chunks of money into the community.

The catch? It has to be youth related.

“Coast Capital gives an amount of money that’s allocated back into the community, and that’s why [they’re] so awesome because they actually give back to the people where it’s needed, which I find pretty unique actually,” Telfair told the Now.

The 31-year-old works as a psychiatric nurse by day, and helps out other youth (ages 30 and under) in her spare time.

In 2014, Telfair and her team helped allocate $440,000 in grants from Coast Capital to 33 youth-based programs, including the Surrey Princess Project, Canadian Red Cross Society, Surrey Libraries, Canadian Mental Health Association and others.

How do they decide? It’s all in the diversity of the council, she said.

“The whole point is that have this ‘for youth, by youth’ sort of motto going,” she said.

“Each of us provide a very different perspective, so we get together every quarter, and eight of us sit down… each one of us are from different perspectives. I’m in mental health, another person is in accounting, another is in car sales. You know, we have eight different types of people in here.”

The council goes over proposals, using a scoring and adjudicating process, as well as their own viewpoints on what’s important in the community. The grants are given out on a quarterly basis, allowing new initiatives to be proposed each season.

Telfair said the initiative — which focuses on education, social connections, family and health and financial wellbeing — is important for at-risk youth in the Fraser Valley.

“I went to the Boys and Girls Club and I did all sorts of after-school resource centre things that brought me into the community,” she revealed of her own youth.

“I made lots of friends that way. Some of these programs provide after school educational activities.”

Telfair said she’s been volunteering since her mid-teens, and it has helped her to grow as a person.

“My mom always instilled in me to give back to the community, (she said) ‘You’re a healthy young individual, give back to your community.’”

The Fraser Valley Young Leaders Community Council and Coast Capital helped over 110,000 young people in the Fraser Valley in 2014. The group takes youth model proposals on a quarterly basis.

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