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Beyond 150 Collaboration for Change: Featuring Neetu Sharma

What happens when graduate students from coast to coast get asked to contribute their big ideas on how to bring about Aboriginal advancement,economic transformation, or optimism for the future of Canada? In partnership with Deloitte as part of the larger Beyond 150 initiative, YongeStreet produced Beyond 150: Collaborating for change report and chose to profile four finalists who also recently presented their proposals to a jury of industry experts. The winner receives a special invitation to join the Deloitte National Leadership Conference in July. This month’s finalist is Neetu Sharma and her project called We Mentor Canada—A self-sustaining mentorship model to revitalize Canadian youth. This is the third feature in a four-part series highlighting the Beyond 150 finalists. Please read the first feature here and the second feature here.

Beyond 150 finalist Neetu Sharma shine spotlight on the importance of mentorship

“Youth today face some tough choices and I feel mentorship in all its various forms is a great way to enable them see the opportunities and potential that they can access, only with a little bit of direction. Financial mentoring is a must to ensure our youth understand the workings of the financial institutions and concepts that our society is based on, and how to use them in their best interest to build successful live,” Neetu Sharma told YongeStreet. “Leadership mentoring is important for the youth to not underestimate what she can possibly do. Mentoring for immigrants is invaluable to help them adjust in a new society and become productive and positive Canadians.”

Sharma said she had been fortunate to be mentored in the senior year of high school. “As a young immigrant at the time, the experience helped me a lot in overcoming the challenges of settling in a new country. That thought has stayed with me throughout and now that I am in a position to help others in the same position, I do so. Financial mentoring is another thing that I am passionate about, that I practice through volunteering with Junior Achievement as I believe youth need to understand the concepts of and the importance of financial planning and decisions to set their path to success.”

Sharma heard about the challenge through her school, the University of Alberta, and thought it would be great platform to pitch her passion for mentoring and her hope to do something bigger with this idea.

We Mentor Canada—A self-sustaining mentorship model to revitalize Canadian youth

Possibility should have nothing to do with privilege. Every Canadian youth should think anything is possible, Sahrma’s proposal states. She argues that while most high-school graduation years can be some of the most challenging in life, the stress compounds if supportive families/social networks are lacking. Sharma’s proposal serves as a call to action to Canadian universities, government and private sectors to provide mentorship.

We Mentor Canada harnesses the power of mentorship to connect with youth to connect every Canadian high-school senior with a mentor, according to Sharma’s proposal. She envisions a discussion board for sharing stories of spirit and success, failure and shared optimism, as well practical advice in education, networking and career decisions, the program that would provide a safety-net and a launching pad for opportunities for youth during their critical formative years and numerous benefits for mentors. Sharma considers the following groups well-positioned to contribute and benefit as mentors:
  • Retiring/retired professionals (via partnerships with related unions/organizations) Masters’ students, mentoring as part of their degree.
  • Bachelors’ students— based on a rigorous selection process
  • Professional/social/community leader volunteers—based on a rigorous selection process
  • Chosen for their ability to contribute and what the process will add to their lives, the solution proposes a win-win solution for mentors and mentees.
The program would match the unique strengths and resources of purposeful adults with the diverse needs of Canadian youth to stimulate confidence, purpose and a plan for action. Mentoring has been shown to have multiple benefits for the mentor including mental functioning, a sense of purpose, and leadership skills. The process could also generate societal dialog on the happiness of Canadian youth and on the importance of giving back.

This story is produced in partnership with Deloitte Canada.
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