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iHuman Youth Society

Winter brought an extended period of severe temperatures to Edmonton, causing many problems for infrastructure and numerous water main breaks. A long-term partner of the Edmonton Foundation team, iHuman Youth Society, was affected by a flood on their premises.

While insurance covered renovation costs, a 3-month loss of their kitchen and food storage facilities impacted the meal services that iHuman would typically provide. The organization needed emergency funding to ensure that those relying on this service would continue to receive support.

Jeff Ku, a professional engineer based at our Edmonton branch, heard about the crisis through several friends from different circles.

“I received links to stories on social media about what was happening,” says Jeff. “I wondered if there was something I could do to help. It prompted me to take some kind of action and encouraged me to see what Urban Systems and the Foundation could do to assist.”

This led to an opportunity to continue building the Edmonton Foundation team’s relationship with iHuman. Jeff has previously been involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters, so organizations that offer youth mentorship are important to him.

Prior to her maternity leave, Christina Hopkins (land development EIT) championed the partnership with iHuman. In the past, Urban staff volunteered to be ‘fun police’ at the Taste of Edmonton; cooked and served a meal to iHuman clients at Soul Food Night; participated in a clothing drive; and went to their art shows.

“We still have some of the art we purchased. It’s displayed on our office walls,” says Jeff.

Motivated by needs arising from the flood, the Edmonton team initiated a plan to make a donation to iHuman.

“We purchased grocery cards for their clients and hand delivered them to the society,” says Jeff. This was an opportunity for him to personally meet with staff, receive a tour of the facilities and learn more about their services. “We followed up with further support to cover grocery cards and additional food support services.”

After gaining a greater understanding about iHuman’s current and upcoming programs, the Edmonton Foundation team will be considering the best ways that they can support the organization. One initiative that particularly aligns with the Foundation’s guiding principles is a leadership program called iSucceed.

“Youth in the iSucceed program are mentored to follow successful paths in education, leadership, relationships and community-building,” says Jeff. “This is an opportunity for staff to engage as volunteers.”

Jeff is seeking to learn what gaps remain and whether specific skills are required. He plans to share this information in an upcoming team meeting.

“From there, we will plan a way forward in building upon our partnership with iHuman,” says Jeff.

About iHuman Youth Society

iHuman provides arts mentorship, crisis intervention and life-skills development to over 500 marginalized youth each year in Edmonton’s inner city. This youth-driven organization develops arts programs as a positive engagement tool.

iHuman’s creative spaces include a theatre, music recording studio, fashion studio and visual arts studio. Their services also address parenting skills, addictions, mental health and employment.

Read iHuman’s March newsletter.


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