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Nov 23 Media Release

Mentoring program for at-risk kids wins $1-million award

Vancouver, BC, November 23, 2005 – A mentoring program for young people vulnerable to crime, addiction and exploitation has won a $1-million grant from Vancity.

This year’s $1-million Vancity Award goes to PLEA Community Services Society of BC for the expansion of its KidStart Mentoring Program.

The program is for children aged 6+ who are vulnerable to high-risk activity. They may struggle with school, hang out with the wrong crowd, attract police attention, be in and out of foster care, demonstrate negative attitudes, or be uncommunicative. Many have engaged in criminal activity, but are too young to be charged.

Through the program, kids are matched with adult volunteers who build a relationship with them, act as positive role models, and help them build self-esteem and get on the path to success.

The funds will be used to purchase a site for a KidStart Mentoring Centre, program expansion in Greater Vancouver and for the expansion of the program to Victoria and Campbell River.

The mentoring centre will bring all of KidStart’s Lower Mainland services under one roof, allowing them to hire additional staff to support the training of volunteers and the matching of volunteers and young people. The centre will also act as a resource and reference centre for best practices in mentoring programs for at-risk children.

“All of us at PLEA thank the Vancity members for their confidence in the KidStart Mentoring Program,” says Tim Agg, Executive Director of PLEA Community Services Society of BC. “The Vancity Award will leave a permanent legacy with thousands of children and young people receiving the support they need now and into the future.”

The $1-million Vancity Award, the largest corporate gift of its kind in Canada, was established in 2001 by Vancity’s Board of Directors to support the social, environmental and economic well-being of the community.

This year marks the fifth year and a total $5-million investment in the community through the Vancity Award. The Award is available to non-profit groups in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Victoria. The funds for the Award come from a percentage of Vancity profits set aside each year for community initiatives.

PLEA was chosen from four finalists by Vancity members who voted by ballot, online and over the phone. The other three finalists included: the Crisis Intervention & Suicide Prevention Centre of BC for expansion of its groundbreaking program; the Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver for the creation of a centre for children of offenders; and Our Place for the construction of a new centre for Victoria’s disadvantaged.

“These were all deserving projects, innovative, impactful and important to our region, but it was up to our members to decide which one resonated most with them,” says Elain Duvall, Chair of Vancity’s Board of Directors. “PLEA’s KidStart Mentoring Centre will help its valued volunteers get the tools, training and the peer support they need to continue to do work that has such a huge impact on troubled children in this region.”

For more information about PLEA, go to

Last year, the Phoenix Drug and Alcohol Recovery and Education Society won for its Phoenix Centre project, an integrated recovery centre in Surrey that is now under construction and is expected to be completed by next summer.

Other $1-million Vancity Award winners include: Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST) for its Greenway project; Vancouver East Cultural Centre for its theatre revitalization and WISH for its wellness centre in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Application letters for the next Vancity Award will be accepted from non-profit organizations in the communities Vancity serves until January 17, 2006. For more information visit .

Vancity is the largest credit union in Canada -- and the third largest in North America -- with assets of more than $10.5 billion, 315,000 members, and 47 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria. Vancity owns Citizens Bank of Canada, serving members across the country 24-7 by telephone and Internet. Vancity and its subsidiaries are guided by a commitment to corporate social responsibility, and to improve the quality of life in its communities.

Media contacts:

Sara Holland
Vancity Public Affairs

PLEA Community Services Society of BC
Jennifer Lawrence