IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training: FAQ
1. How do I take part in this program?
To ensure a quality learning environment, participation in the IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training is limited and competitive. There is a brief application form that should take about 15 minutes to complete.
2. Who is eligible to apply?
All applicants will be evaluated on the quality and strength of their applications, as well as suitability for the program, provided they meet ANY ONE of the following criteria at the start of the workshop:
- University/college students aged 19-30 years old (current or graduated in the last 12 months)
- Alumni of the IMPACT! Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership
3. What if I don’t meet this criteria?
For those who do not meet EITHER of the above criteria, exceptions may be made for applicants from partners and a limited number of other youth who are particularly strong candidates and would be a good fit in the program. For those who would like us to make an exception, the application form includes an opportunity to explain your circumstances.
4. Will I receive a confirmation e-mail when I apply?
When you click Submit, you will see a confirmation screen to verify that we have received your application. You will not receive an automatic confirmation e-mail. Once we have reviewed and made a decision about your application, you will receive an update on your status, regardless of whether or not you were accepted to the program.
5. Is there a cost to apply?
There is no cost to apply for this program.
6. Is there a cost to participate?
Thanks to our generous funders and partners, the highly-subsidized participant cost for the IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training program is only a $50 commitment fee, payable following acceptance into the program. As the name suggests, the commitment fee is intended to strengthen your commitment to the program and show that you place value in this opportunity. The commitment fee is not returned to participants upon completion of the program.
7. What if the commitment fee presents a financial barrier for me?
We aim to make this program as accessible and inclusive as possible. To remove all financial barriers for those in need, a limited number of bursaries are available to waive the participant commitment fee. Bursaries do not cover accommodation or travel (if applicable), which is the responsibility of all participants. If you are accepted for a bursary, you will be given a bursary code and special registration link upon acceptance to the program. If you require an entrance fee bursary in order to attend, the application form includes an opportunity to explain your circumstances.
8. Is the commitment fee refundable?
For applicants who are accepted to the program and register, all subsequent cancellations must be received via e-mail to jsnider(at)naturalstep.ca. The amount paid will be refunded for all cancellations received 7 days prior to the workshop start date. However, no refund will be issued for cancellations received within 7 days of the workshop start date. As the name suggests, the commitment fee is intended to strengthen your commitment to the program and show that you place value in this opportunity. The commitment fee is not returned to participants upon completion of the program.
9. If I’m coming from out of town, do you organize travel or accommodations?
Participants are responsible for organizing their own travel and accommodation to and from the in-person workshop and networking activities, if applicable. Once accepted into the program, we will empower participants with the tools to organize ride sharing and couch surfing with their peers, but we don’t coordinate this ourselves or guarantee that everyone will be able to find a match. Participants from out of town should plan and budget accordingly.
10. Are subsidies available for travel and accommodations?
No. Bursaries do not cover accommodation or travel (if applicable), which is the responsibility of all participants.
11. What is your approach to sustainability?
Our comprehensive approach to sustainability takes into account our environmental, social, and economic systems, and is called the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development. It is based on systems thinking; recognizing that what happens in one part of a system affects every other part. By providing a common language and shared understanding of sustainability, it helps people across organisations, disciplines, and cultures communicate effectively, build consensus, and ultimately move toward their vision. We use an upstream approach that anticipates and avoids problems before they occur, rather than reacting to their downstream effects. The Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development has helped hundreds of different organizations around the world integrate sustainable development into their strategic planning and create long lasting transformative change. It complements other sustainability tools and methodologies, such as life cycle analysis or environmental management systems, by providing the context and strategic vision that makes them more effective. Scientifically rigorous and peer reviewed, it is constantly being used, tested, refined, and developed. Best of all, it is openly published and free for all to use. Learn more about our approach to sustainability at www.naturalstep.ca/sustainability.
12. What if I’m not sure that I am or have the capacity to be a leader?
Regardless of whether you already consider yourself to be an effective leader, think you have the ability to become a leader, or are unsure about your leadership potential, we welcome you. The programming is designed for youth of all types across the leadership spectrum. Participants will have an opportunity to define what leadership means for them, and will explore and expand their leadership skills and capacity during the program.
13. What kind of leaders are you looking for?
We’re looking for ALL kinds of leaders. IMPACT! Sustainability Champions are catalysts, builders, innovators, activists, networkers, storytellers, investigators, artists, nurturers, designers, facilitators, researchers, and many other types of change makers. The youth who take part in this program are passionate, talented, and committed individuals who want to lead positive change or are already doing so. They are current and aspiring leaders interested in addressing various challenges across the sustainability spectrum, including environmental, social, and economic issues. They represent many disciplines and fields of study, from environment, science, and engineering, to business, law, and economics, from social studies, arts, and humanities, to fine art, theatre, and music, and everything in between.
14. Do I need to have a clear idea for a sustainability project or social enterprise in mind, or already working on one, in order to take part?
This program is intended to have a real impact on the participants and their communities by inspiring, empowering, and supporting youth to take meaningful action, now and/or in the future. If you have an idea for a sustainability project or social enterprise you’d like to launch or are already working on, or have some initial ideas that you are considering, that’s great. It is not a requirement to have a clear idea at the time of applying. Indeed, participants will have the opportunity to brainstorm, refine, and receive meaningful feedback on their ideas during the program. In the application, we would like to get a sense of your interests, regardless of the current state of your thinking and/or initiatives.
15. Do I need to be interested in a particular business type or model for my sustainability project or social enterprise to take part in this program?
No. We welcome all business types and models, and believe we need to address our complex sustainability challenges using all tools and approaches available. Whether you’re interested in engaging through social enterprises, non-profits, charities, social purpose businesses, co-operatives, corporations, governments (including student unions), campus groups, informal projects, all of above, something else, or you’re just not sure… this program welcomes you.
16. What kind of sustainability projects and social enterprises have past participants been involved with?
Our participants and alumni have launched or taken on a leadership role in all kinds of initiatives. Some are launching a campus bike co-op, using permaculture techniques to build edible forest gardens, inspiring action on sustainability through theatre, working with at-risk youth to build urban community gardens, producing a video series on water conservation, and biking across Canada to educate and reconnect youth with their food system. Some are teaching children how to make eco-friendly soap, cultivating local honey through organic beekeeping, starting a social enterprise that supports Aboriginal craft makers, designing an innovative aquaponic system to advance sustainable farming methods, harvesting wasted fruit with volunteers who turn them into delicious pies, and collecting plastic waste from the ocean to convert into a recycled filament for 3D printing. Just to name a few. Please read their stories to learn more about some of our inspiring alumni and the incredible sustainability projects and social enterprises they have launched and advanced through their involvement in the IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training program. And check out the profiles of some of our most successful alumni who have received grants from The Co-operators Foundation IMPACT! Fund to kick-start and scale their innovative initiatives.
17. Which program activities are required vs. optional?
We expect all applicants selected for the program to participate fully in the Phase 1, 2, and 4 activities, as outlined in on our Program page. This includes completing the pre-workshop preparation activities (approximately 2 hours), being fully present for the duration of the workshop and networking activities (approximately 3 days), and reporting on their progress and sharing their feedback at the end of the program (approximately 2 hours). We also aim to select participants who intend to participate in the Phase 3 activities following the workshop to the best of their abilities, and intend to stay connected to the IMPACT! alumni network. However, we recognize that each participant’s circumstances, schedule, and goals are unique, so we welcome applicants who may not yet know whether they will want or be able to plan and implement a new initiative in their community, or take on a leadership role to advance an existing opportunity. Likewise, we understand that each participant’s personal and project development needs will vary, so don’t except all participants to take advantage of all of the Phase 3 activities, tools, resources, and support. Please see our Program overview for more details.
18. What if I have to miss part of the in-person activities?
We expect all applicants selected for the program to be fully present for the duration of the 2.5-day workshop and evening networking reception (which takes place the evening of the first day of the workshop). We understand that circumstances may arise where a participant has to miss a small part of these in-person activities for school or other unavoidable commitments, which is OK but discouraged if at all possible in order for all participants to gain fully from the program. If you’re not sure about your particular circumstances, please contact us to discuss.
Don’t see your question here? Want more information? Please contact us and we will do our best to reply to your inquiry in a timely manner.