SUCCESS STORIES

Innovative Alberta Career Network Helps Kids and Industry

What could a young person ready to graduate from high school want more than a career network driven by the needs of industry? Since its inception in 1997, CAREERS: The Next Generation has helped match thousands of students with an equal number of Alberta-based employers.

Today it works in 120 communities throughout the province, helping youth develop pathways to career success. Janet Riopel, President and CEO, sees her organization's role as helping, "to bridge the gap between teachers, employers and students in order to develop strong vibrant communities."

CAREERS traces its origins to Eric Newell, Chairman and CEO of Syncrude, who recognized that the province was facing a critical shortage of skilled workers. "We're trying to address the needs of industry while also providing opportunities to students," adds Riopel. "It's a win-win solution."

Riopel says industry and government realized that the province needed a more effective way to train students and turn them on to new and exciting career choices. "So that when they graduate, they can go into something where there will be an abundance of job opportunities."

CAREERS' first initiative was with trades and "getting students interested in exploring the trades sector as a first choice for their career." Since then, CAREERS has branched out into information technology and health services.

Corporations, notes Riopel, will often approach CAREERS directly, with her organization providing fresh ideas, direction and support. "It's a very collaborative process."

Where They Raise Funds
CAREERS raises money primarily through corporate and foundation donors. Although they don't presently raise funds through events, CAREERS does organize an annual Scholarship Celebration, which brings the organization recognition and some "good PR".

To help CAREERS capitalize on its neat fit with corporate donors, Riopel uses BIG Online to identify potential prospects and match giving interests. "It's an easy way to access information. Everything is organized. It's good for searching and the newsletter is useful, with lots of hints and trends ... It's one stop shopping, which is what I really like."

Riopel says a recent investment from TransCanada Pipelines Limited was indicative of the organization's use of BIG. Using the database CAREERS' was able to develop a deeper understanding of the petrochemical company's current giving interests, projects and patterns. The next step was simply, "finding a project that met their goals and objectives."

Identifying what companies want to do with their philanthropic dollars and where they're currently putting their money, "is something we've found that works really well (with BIG)."

Like many other users, Riopel relies on BIG Online to help her refine searches and make sure she's going after the best possible prospects. Strong prospect matching is critical, she notes, as it translates into long term stability for both the non-profit and their corporate partner - who can rely on the non-profit to help it meet its philanthropic goals.

"If you can use a resource like BIG Online to find that cause ... you're that much more ahead of the game."

CAREERS' overall funding goal for this year is $2 million, with revenue for 2003 being used to fund ongoing programs as well as new initiatives - such as expanding into a younger student audience and streamlining public presentations in order to continue, "to leverage technology to its full advantage."

In any event, there's little doubt that CAREERS will remain a key career awareness and exploration engine for Alberta youth for many years to come. When over 90% of employers previously involved in their internship programs say they would recommend it to other employers, you know they've got the right formula.


BIG Picture: Success in fundraising boils down to a few key factors: the quality of your relationships and your proposals, or the positioning of your business in a sector with lots of money. But grant proposal success can often be a direct result of your ability to stay on topic and to express your achievements, your vision and where you've been, in a stimulating and engaging manner.


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