Leader divvying up youth grants in Maple Ridge

staff reporter

A new youth leadership group with local representation will be deciding how Coast Capital Savings directs grants for community groups.

Coast Capital has launched a Fraser Valley Young Leaders Community Council to address key issues for youth in the region.

Comprised of emerging young leaders, the new council is tasked with awarding community grants on behalf of the credit union.

Maple Ridge resident Pavan Rakhra is on the board and said the council will help young people become future leaders.

“You’re empowering your youth to make decisions for their community,” he said.

Members of the council – all 30 years or younger – will review grant applications and make funding recommendations on the youth issues that most need support in their communities.

Grants for health and wellness, social connections, sports and other categories will be considered.

Rakhra said three councils will oversee more than $1 million worth of grants, to be distributed in Metro, Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley regions.

The unique project was first piloted on Vancouver Island, launched in Victoria in December 2011. It has granted  a total of $220,000 to 18 Island organizations – much of it aimed at supporting youth-focused programs and services.

The Fraser Valley council will meet quarterly. Emerging young leaders in the local community and at Coast Capital competed with their peers to be selected for a term on the council.

“We were all selected because we care about what’s happening in our communities,” says David Dryden, chair of the new council. “Coast Capital Savings is entrusting us with a huge responsibility by giving us a say in what programs and services to fund in order to do the most good for the most people.”

Rakhra, 25, has considerable community involvement.

He is enrolled in a bachelor of business administration in accounting degree at Kwantlen University, and works as a customer service representative at Coast Capital. He is also a member of the presidential ambassadorial team, which works with the president of the university to publicly represent Kwantlen in the communities it serves.

He is also involved in the accounting society of Kwantlen, where he initiated a mentorship program to help first- and second-year students.

Rakhra is also on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fraser Valley, where he also volunteers as a mentor.

In addition to this, he brings volunteer experience from Ridge Meadows Hospice Society.

“Each year, Coast Capital invests seven per cent of its budgeted pre-tax income in a wide range of community engagement activities, primarily focused on building a richer future for youth. Last year, this commitment amounted to $4.99 million dollars in community support.

• For information about the grants see, look under the “About Coast Capital” tab, and click on “Helping communities.”

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