Since 1982, YOU has helped lead youth in London and Middlesex County toward success. We believe that investing in youth and strong communities go hand in hand. We know that many youth need guidance and support to reach their true potential.
YOU began as a community based initiative and has continually developed and strengthened community partnerships. We work with our business, community and government partners (more than 22) to maximize opportunities for youth and to address their most pressing needs.
We help youth reach their potential through education, skills training, employment supports and referrals they need to lead positive lives. Each year YOU serves over 3,600 youth between 16 and 30 years of age in London and Strathroy. There is a wide range of services including health & dental care, housing, education, workshops, job search and on-the-job skills training.
YOU has been a national leader in social enterprise since opening our first one in 1996. It generates revenue from business to contribute back to the organization and eventually offset the need for funding. Now YOU operates four social enterprise businesses to offer on-the-job skills training to youth. We serve all youth from those at risk to those seeking summer employment. We have numerous supports and services in place and a caring staff to meet their needs successfully.
As a non-profit registered charity, YOU receives funding from all levels of government, national, regional and local businesses as well as foundations.
YOU supports youth to build skills, confidence and independence to reach their potential.
A community where youth are embraced and will thrive.
In all we do, we remain:
There are many ways you can help.
- Visit our YOU Made It Café for breakfast or lunch
- Order catering from the Café
- Purchase Market Quality Preserves and gift baskets from our YOU Made It Café
- Order gift baskets for your personal or business gift giving.
- Hire YOU Made It Recycling for your business recycling needs.
- Sponsor, donate or attend our annual events including Breakfast for YOU held in February.
We welcome donations for vulnerable youth and their babies such as: hygiene supplies (toothpaste/toothbrushes, shampoo, soap, combs, hairbrushes, deodorant), new socks, new baby clothes, baby formula, baby food and diapers.
This website (YOU.ca) provides an excellent overview. Visit youmadeitcafe.ca to learn more about our Café and how youth learn skills and gain job experience in a real business setting.
Highlights of Youth Opportunities Unlimited Milestones:
1982 Community steering committee form YOU with representative from United Way, Fanshawe College and local community organizations Established within a community hub run by London Community Resource Centre at 388 Dundas St.
1984 Launches first year-round work experience program with paid on-the-job training to youth no longer in school.
1985 Creates its first social enterprise, London Youth Project, providing hands-on training and experience in food service. London Youth Project later separately incorporated to become London Training Centre.
1986 Launches first housing program as a loan fund offering loans for first / last month rent.
1992 Youth Action Centre created in response to City of London study on needs of street youth. Operates as pilot project of Coordinating Council for Children and Youth which becomes part of YOU in 1994.
1996 Reuse It Recycling launched. The social enterprise provides recycling services targeted to business customers while providing hands-on training to youth. Retail outlet opened in Galleria Mall where products created by youth are sold.
1997 Becomes founding partner of The Skill Centre with ATN, Fanshawe College, Chelsea Green Childcare and WIL as shared space with “one stop” approach for job seekers. The Centre is honoured to host Prime Minister Chretien at the opening.
1998 Springbank Employment & Learning Centre opens in southwest London in response to neighbourhood need for employment supports and alternative education for youth.
2002 Youth Star Award and Polaris Award formed.
2006 After several years of offering services to Strathroy youth on an itinerant basis, YOU purchases and renovates a facility in downtown Strathroy to create Next Wave Youth Centre. Offers educational, training, life skills and housing supports to youth.
2007 1st annual Breakfast for YOU – “Empowering YOUth”
YOU purchases three-storey heritage building at 332 Richmond Street and embarks on a multi-year project to renew the facility and create housing, education, life skills, community space and social enterprise. Later renamed The Cornerstone.
YOU 25th anniversary
2011 The Cornerstone Grand Opening. Provides 30 affordable housing units, two alternative education centres, Youth Action Centre and Community Meeting Room.
2012 YOU Made It Café opens at The Cornerstone. YOU celebrates 30th anniversary.
2013 Cornerstone Primary Healthcare Centre opens. Cornerstone green roof installation starts with plantings of sedums, herbs and vegetables and installation of patio space.
2014 Green roof and rooftop terrace patio stones installation completed in November. Market Quality Preserves (10 products) sold by Farm Boy in London Wellington South Store in June 2014.
2015 Market Quality Preserves expanded to 2 additional Farm Boy Stores in London (Masonville and Beaverbrook Stores).
YOU contracted by Farm Boy to produce private label pumpkin butter for sale across all Farm Boy stores in Ontario.
Cornerstone Rooftop Terrace opened for rooftop BBQs. Rooftop Garden harvest made into a special product and sold by YOU Made It Cafe: “Bananarama Salsa” incorporated over 50% of vegetables and herbs grown in planters on the rooftop.
Launched “The New Addition” capital campaign to raise $8.5 MM for expansion of supportive housing for youth and young moms and additional on-site services for young families.
2016 YOU purchased the GT /New Yorker building (329-331-333 Richmond Street) in Downtown London to redevelop and add to the affordable housing stock it already operates at the Cornerstone (332 Richmond Street). The focus of this New Addition will be on consolidating YOU service locations to this busy intersection of Downtown and to provide wraparound services to youth, young moms and their children.