OCIC Youth Policy-Makers Hub

Global problems like gender inequality and climate change affect people of all ages everywhere. These complex problems require holistic inter-generational approaches, diverse mindsets, multi-disciplinary methods and multi-sectoral dialogue. OCIC recognizes the wealth of knowledge, experience and leadership that youth leaders bring to the international cooperation sector in Ontario and beyond. We want to help enable the active participation of youth at local, national and international policy-making tables to inform decisions that concern their lives, future and the planet.

The Youth Policy-Makers Hub (YPH) is a signature initiative of OCIC’s Community Engagement and Learning programs. The YPH is an multi-generational initiative that will engage diverse youth from across Ontario in international cooperation policy processes in support of Gender Equality, Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) action areas, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)OCIC’s Youth Policy-Makers Hub program goals are to increase the awareness and interest of Ontarians, especially youth, in international cooperation and key global issues, including gender equality and the SDGs and offer opportunities for meaningful youth participation in advocacy and policy-making processes, and in sub-national, national and international programs, meetings, delegations 

The YPH goals are aligned with our Global Affairs Canada-funded project Inspiring Global Citizenship Initiative (2019-23) and the guiding principles of OCIC’s gender transformative approach, which emphasizes intersectionality and policies on women’s rights and gender equality, anti-oppression, and public engagementCanada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy’s (FIAP) feminist and integrated approach to development, which sees gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in a manner that is both targeted and cross-cutting, and the Istanbul Principles for CSO Development Effectiveness.


Applications for 2021-2022 Cohort Now Closed

For those who have been given extensions, click here. The Youth Policy-Makers Hub Members application is available for preview as an Accessible Word Doc version.

About the Youth Policy-Makers Hub

YPH members are:

  • Between the ages of 18-35 and living in Ontario
  • Passionate about gender equality, social justice, and environmental justice issues
  • Keen on utilizing their experience and ideas to contribute to advocacy and policy processes with the goal of addressing challenges at sub-national, national, and international levels
  • Have a diversity of lived experiences, academic backgrounds, and perspectives to contribute for informed and inclusive policy-making

As members of the Hub, youth have the opportunity to: 

  • Partake in monthly virtual learning exchange and skills development sessions, such as formal training on SDGs, to strengthen their capacity to influence policy making and enact advocacy actions
  • Pitch, contribute to, and/or lead online projects, advocacy campaigns and community engagement sessions during key comments, including International Development Week 2021
  • Form connections between local and global issues, as well as build upon lived experiences and existing work, to enable meaningful participation in the international cooperation sector
  • Execute a self-designed, collaborative initiative with other hub members with logistical support from OCIC (link to previous work)
  • Connect with a network of engaged youth and mentors from a multiplicity of backgrounds and passions
  • Access OCIC events, trainings, and networking opportunities, including the annual Policy Matters training series

Previous Hub Activities

  • Attended Together | Ensemble Conference in May 2020, where YPH members held a panel session, ‘Elect Her: Women’s Political Participation and the SDGs,’ looking at the underrepresentation of women from minority communities in politics.
  • Curated a Youth for Basic Income Webinar Series and Advocacy Campaign exploring the impact Basic Income could have on youth and intersectional communities in Canada.
  • Training sessions included ‘Basic Income’, ‘Youth Mental Wellness’, ‘Verbatim Theater for Policy Change’, ‘Advocacy & Policy Ecosystem for Sustainable Development’, and more.
  • Policy Matter Training Series 2021 (YouTube: https://youtu.be/ENc06NYJbeE)

Selection Process and Criteria

Youth Policy-Makers were selected by a committee composed of  OCIC staff and members, youth leaders, policy and advocacy partners. At least 50% of the committee members were youth, 18-35 years.

We believe that lived experience, activism and community organizing and engagement are crucial in mobilizing towards social change & sustainable development. We welcome and appreciate a diversity of experience. Applicants did not need to have formal work experience or academic background in policy and advocacy to apply. Applicants need to demonstrate an active interest in policy-making and advocacy processes through evidence of past investment and intention, as well as meet the following requirements:

  • Be between the ages of 18 and 35 and reside in Ontario as of October 1, 2021
  • Participate in a 6-month program starting in September 2021, create a reflective piece documenting a story of change, and commit engaging in the alumni network after the conclusion of their cohort
  • Commit to virtual monthly meetings and learning activities (approximately 10 hours per month)
  • Have some interest in building skills for policy development with an international cooperation focus in relation to SDGs and gender equality
  • Intend to pursue or are pursuing a career in a relevant field such as international development, where participation in the YPH is a pertinent learning opportunity
  • Unique perspectives informed by lived experiences to develop nuanced and inclusive policy-making approaches
  • Nominations: Applicants nominated by OCIC organizational or network members are candidates for both nominated and general membership to the YPH. When an applicant is nominated, the organization recognizes that applicant in their network and verifies their participation as declared in this form. Please request a nomination from a member of your organization prior to applying. 

Applications from youth representing historically marginalized communities and those who are mis- or under-represented in policy and advocacy spaces had priority focus, as well as those located outside the Greater Toronto Area.

About the Mentors

Applications for 2021-2022 Mentors Now Closed

For those who have been given extensions, click here. The Youth Policy-Makers Hub Mentor application is available for preview as an Accessible Word Doc version

Mentors are:

  • involved in or leading policy-focused programs and processes at the local, sub-national, national or international level and interested in helping to strengthen the capacity of diverse youth leaders to take part in policy-making arenas
  • keen on learning and sharing their experience, expertise and ideas with others in the international cooperation and other sectors about youth-led approaches to policy-making processes with regards to gender equality and the other SDGs

Mentors of various ages and stages in their career (young leaders, mid-career professionals and senior leaders): 

  • Guide YPH members in project design and implementation using their past experiences and expertise in youth-led and youth-focused engagement in policy making and advocacy
  • Collaboratively create and execute training sessions to complement the OCIC programmed training series (e.g. developing soft skills such as goal setting and relationship building)
  • Act as role models and connections for YPH members to develop careers in policy making
  • Facilitate discussions and contribute to making a productive and supportive learning environment that encourages innovative risk-taking
  • Offer unique perspectives stemming from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences
  • Participate in virtual YPH meetings and other activities over the next 6 months (approximately 1-2 hours per month on average)


Do you have to be an OCIC Member?

All YPH members are encouraged to be members of OCIC.

How long is the term of the YPH?

Youth policy-makers participate in a 6-month program starting in September 2021. The current youth policy-makers are strongly encouraged to join the next program cycle as allies.

Where are meetings being held, and how often?

Youth policy-makers participate in monthly meetings and learning activities online and in-person in Toronto (where possible). Those selected are expected to contribute approximately 1-2 hours per week.

Allies’ time commitment is approximately 1-2 hours per month.

Initiatives led by the YPH (2019-2020)

Our Space Too: A Conversation about Mental Wellness in Newcomer Youth Communities

#OurSpaceToo was a workshop for newcomer (immigrant and refugee) youth and a safe space to foster informative and personal dialogue about mental wellness in their communities. This was an opportunity for education and awareness, collective relationship building, and a space to practice wellness. Read more

The Push for Basic Income Series

Ever wondered what basic income is all about? Ever wish you had others to speak to about it? Facilitated and organized by the Youth Policy-Makers, the series of webinars, workshops, and resource-sharing activities will help participants understand the foundations of Basic Income and how it could be a pathway to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Read more

Learn more about the Youth Policy-Makers 2020 Cohort

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