I’m excited to share that we are launching the fourth round of the Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Prevention Awards Program. Presented by Canada Life, the Awards are part of a broader suite of activities co-led by A Way Home Canada (AWHC) and the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH) to transform our response to youth homelessness. 

We were thrilled with the outcomes of last year’s Awards program. We granted two awards, with the winners being Niginan Housing Ventures: Omamoo Wango Gamik Program and Wyndham House: Concurrent Youth Hub Program. We received several impressive submissions in 2023, which led to us also awarding two honorary mentions: YOU (Youth Opportunities Unlimited): The initiative for Youth Homelessness Prevention is the Preventing Discharge to No Fixed Address for Youth (NFA-Y) program and CMHA Kelowna: Bright Mindz.  

Watch our panel discussion to learn more about the winners and honorary mentions here.

Why the Making the Shift Awards?

Awards programs have many benefits. One of the biggest advantages is that they can highlight and acknowledge the important work happening to prevent youth homelessness. Additionally, they can serve as a platform to discover innovation, and our Making the Shift Awards demonstrated this over the last three years!

The specific objectives of the Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Prevention Awards program are as follows:

  • Further disseminate the definition of prevention developed for the “Roadmap for the Prevention of Youth Homelessness”
  • Identify promising prevention programs and practices to be showcased and prioritized for the development of case studies, webinars, and other knowledge products
  • Identify promising prevention programs and practices to be prioritized for research, evaluation, and/or demonstration projects
  • Map the barriers to prevention programs and interventions

The Definition of Youth Homelessness Prevention

The COH’s definition of homelessness prevention underpins the Making the Shift work, including the Awards Program. Homelessness prevention refers to policies, practices, and interventions that reduce the likelihood that someone will experience homelessness. It also means providing those who have been homeless with the necessary resources and supports to stabilize their housing, enhance integration and social inclusion, and ultimately reduce the risk of the recurrence of homelessness.

The COH and AWHC developed the “Roadmap for the Prevention of Youth Homelessness” to define prevention and showcase examples of prevention in action across a number of domains in Canada and around the world. The Roadmap is essential as it identifies the responsibilities for each stakeholder in our collective efforts to prevent youth homelessness. For the Award, the parameters of prevention will be defined based on this roadmap. 

Celebrating Innovative Solutions and Promising Practices

Once again we will be selecting two official winners, along with possible honorary mentions, to Canadian organizations and collaborations. Winners will be celebrated in the following ways:

  • Winners will each receive a cash prize of $10,000, presented by Canada Life.
  • Winners will be showcased in a public webinar.
  • Winners will be invited to share their work in conference presentations as opportunities arise.
  • Winners will be invited to join the National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness, if they are not already members.
  • Winners will receive a mini case study of their initiative, produced by research and communications staff at the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness. The case studies will be published in the Homeless Hub newsletter, with a national and international reach of more than 20,000 subscribers.
  • Winners will be showcased in an updated edition of the Roadmap for the Prevention of Youth Homelessness in 2025.

To learn more about the program, please see the informational webinar here
To apply or to nominate an initiative, access the program criteria and submission form here.