Helping young people in a post-pandemic world

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Helping young people in a post-pandemic world
The AFC is hoping to fund a range of post-pandemic programs for children, youth and young adults. Photo: St. George's YouthNet, Halifax

Anglican Foundation launches ‘ambitious’ new fundraising campaign

The Anglican Foundation of Canada (AFC) is seeking to help young people thrive after the COVID-19 pandemic with a new fundraising campaign that the foundation is calling its most ambitious yet.

On April 5, the AFC launched its Say Yes! to Kids campaign with the goal of raising $100,000 to support post-pandemic programs for children, youth and young adults. The campaign is set to run until June 30.

AFC development consultant Michelle Hauser calls Say Yes! to Kids “more ambitious than what we’ve ever done.” She says the foundation hopes to alleviate “that acquired and worsening sense of helplessness” caused by the restriction of so many activities during the pandemic, particularly as those restrictions have affected young people.

“There are gaps in children’s lives around community, belonging, learning outcomes—the list is endless,” Hauser says.

“The church does have a track record of offering services, ministries, programs that help to offer children, youth and young adults a sense of community and belonging. A twofold investment in those things would be a way to do something meaningful and impactful in our post-pandemic planning.”

Efforts to raise money will include a special appeal to existing donors in the AFC’s spring newsletter, an advertising campaign in church newspapers, and reaching out to new donors through a peer-to-peer social media fundraising program. The foundation plans to work with youth groups and ministry leaders across Canada on the latter to spread the word about the campaign.

In the fall, the AFC will issue a request for proposals (RFP) to support post-pandemic programs for children, youth and young adults. Specifically, it is seeking funding initiatives that will help young people grow in their faith, deepen community connections, improve health and well-being, overcome cycles of poverty, and achieve better learning outcomes.

Say Yes! to Kids coincides with the 10th anniversary of the foundation’s Kids Helping Kids Fund and its mascot Hope Bear. That milestone helped inspire the campaign, as did research that identified particular ways the pandemic is hurting young people.

“A lot of the research I have read is that kids and young people are some of the demographic that are going to be most negatively impacted in the short term and in the long term,” AFC executive director Canon Judy Rois says.

“There are kids that are saying, ‘Enough of Zoom classes, enough of technology fails, enough of physical distancing, enough of all of it’, and what psychologists are calling the ‘pandemic wall’.… [Young people are] having to navigate constant change, they’re isolated, and they’re hitting that cognitive overload.”

“What we wanted to do was get ahead of that and say we’re aware that kids and young people are facing some really significant challenges and we would like to support them, because our country needs our kids to be healthy,” Rois adds. “Then we want to get in there and help wherever we can.”

Helping young people has long been a focus for the AFC. Over the past decade, the foundation has given more than $1 million in grants to ministries that benefit children, youth and young adults, not including bursary programs. Half of that amount, Hauser says, has gone to support “vulnerable communities” of young people.

The foundation hopes that Say Yes! to Kids will help fund programs that promote social interaction, which Rois notes “has been seriously compromised by the isolation of children” during the pandemic. She offers examples such as outdoor activities, homework clubs, tutoring, community events and camping opportunities.

“These are all the things that sort of are going through our mind,” Rois says. “But we’ve discovered especially with our RFPs, Canadian Anglicans have come up with some pretty interesting and creative and innovative ideas. So we’re kind of anticipating some really creative things that we haven’t thought of.”

Hauser says the AFC is an ideal mechanism to help the Anglican Church of Canada respond to gaps in learning and social interaction that children impacted by the pandemic have experienced.

“We feel the AFC’s uniquely positioned to be able to rally a response from coast to coast to coast and then help to fund that response.… We can rally the church as a whole and be that galvanizing, bonding force that really no one else is in a position to be at this moment.”

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Matt Gardner
Matt Gardner is a staff writer for the <em>Anglican Journal</em>. Most recently, Gardner worked as corporate communicator for the Anglican Church of Canada, a position he held since Dec. 1, 2014. He previously served as a city reporter for the Prince Albert Daily Herald. A former resident of Kingston, Ont., Gardner has a degree in English literature from Queen’s University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario. He will continue to support corporate communications efforts during his time at the <em>Journal</em>.

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