Student Helps Launch Philanthropy Report

by Scott Dallen

I was asked to speak on October 6, 2009 at the Victoria Foundations Vital Signs launch as a member of the Youth in Philanthropy program and as a Vital Signs Youth Council member. I shared the mic with a TELUS local board member who spoke on TELUS’ sponsorship of the YiP program. The mood at the launch of the Vital Signs report was, despite some negative statistics thrown around, very positive. Everyone seemed to have high hopes for the future of our city and particularly the state of poverty in the future. With many elected officials in attendance we were able to give them all a sense of our perspective of poverty here in Victoria. Not only from the Foundation’s point of view but from a youth perspective, a sentiment which is also reflected in the new youth section in Vital Signs.

Victoria Foundation Speech

I am connected very well to ‘my own world’, but there is a completely different side of things outside of ‘my world’ that I’m discovering.

My name is Scott Dallen; I’m a Grade 12 student at St Michaels University School. Youth and students such as myself rarely get the opportunity to truly make a difference in the lives of others. So what makes the Vital Signs and the Youth in Philanthropy program so special is that they provide whole generations of youth with that opportunity, to get involved, to be aware of what is going on in our city, to make a difference. Vital Signs provides a foundation from which research and decision-making in Victoria is based; this book is an extraordinary resource for everyone – students, teachers, CEOs, workers, city council – to truly understand the issues facing our city today.

My experience working with the Vital Signs report has been through the Youth in Philanthropy program. The Youth in Philanthropy program is an in-school extra-curricular opportunity that engages young people in the world of philanthropy. We work in groups to address issues in our community with the aim of improving the quality of life here in greater Victoria. The Victoria Foundation grants each group $2500 a year to distribute to registered charities of their choosing. As a team, we research local issues and participate in site visits with local charities in order to decide whom we believe should receive the money. Through this process one thing is always made painfully clear – the needs far outweigh our ability to meet them.

Vital Signs plays a principal role in our decision-making process. Each year we begin and end our research process with the report. We use it to examine the challenges facing Victoria and then identify where the greatest need is within our community. The report is an invaluable instrument in our world, as it is in many others. This year, through the generosity of TELUS, local youth have an opportunity to be involved on a whole other level, not only providing grants, but also ensuring that their voices are heard throughout the community with Vital Signs new youth section! Through the online survey, youth from diverse backgrounds had the opportunity to voice their opinions. The result is a valuable new section in Vital Signs and I hope you will all take time to read it.

The Youth in Philanthropy program has made me believe in the power of modern youth, in the power to make a difference and to continue to make that difference in the enduring spirit of service. And that is the true genius of the Vital Signs project, that this book has the power to open new doors and launch youth, such as myself, into whole lives of service.

Vital Signs is the foundation for the change that we want to see in our community and it provides an agent for all the voices calling out for that change. We have a motto in our service group at St Michaels: action speaks. Vital Signs’ offers all of us the opportunity for our actions to speak as loudly as possible. So for these reasons, on behalf of the whole community, I thank the Victoria Foundation for providing all of us with this amazing, amazing insight into the Victoria community.



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