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Civic Impact

netWORKS connect local youth to the business leaders of today, one coffee at a time

Youth and business leaders connect through an innovative new online platform and networking practice.

The practice of grabbing a coffee with a potential mentor or employer may be a time-tested networking method, but for some youth, there are barriers that prevent them from reaching out. CivicAction, along with TenThousandCoffees.com and United Way Toronto and York Region, is offering a new way of connecting. The netWORKS initiative, launched last week, uses cutting-edge technology to bring that networking into the modern age.

As Dave Wilkin, the founder of TenThousandCoffees.com, explains, “We saw this growing trend of people who were overlooked because of the traditional way of networking. We wanted to create a one-stop shop for youth with barriers, and employers who wanted to collaborate and tap into that.” Wilkin’s technology forms the backbone of the online platform that hopes to connect youth to employers and community agencies.

netWORKS has already provided opportunities to people like Brooke Write, a 23-year-old student from the Malvern area, who attended the first netWORKS networking group event, held at Virgin Mobile in June. “I know a lot of youth who are struggling to find a job, and taking whatever they can get. They’re miserable because they’re not in the industries they want to be in. This opens up doors. Youth of this generation are often more comfortable behind a screen, but this gives them a chance to break down that wall and not be as nervous.” Youth have an opportunity at these events to connect with people already working in different professional fields, and to make a meaningful relationship that could translate into a career.

Wilkin says that the program’s impact on youth could be quite substantial. He explains that a recent study found that “it wasn’t a lack of skill, it was a lack of networks that kept people out of the workforce. We want to provide that access in a very powerful way, so that youth in the GTA have those conversations. With those conversations come opportunities. Ultimately, we’re working towards secure employment that they're passionate about.”

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