Since 2005, Seize your future has been providing young girls aged 15-21 the skills and experience crucial to becoming a leader and embarking on a successful career. Our mission is to cultivate tomorrow’s leaders in today’s young women, by encouraging teenage girls to develop their leadership and make informed decisions in their lives and careers.
Participants attend three leadership training weekends, receive guidance by a mentor, complete a community project, and meet and discuss with current female leaders.
We have provided leadership tools and taught the importance of social engagement to more than 250 adolescent girls. The community projects developed by the participants have raised over $ 50,000 for third-party organizations, ultimately having a positive impact on more than 25,000 people!
SYF has a lot to offer its participants!
Pillar #1: Training
Participants take part in 3 training seminars where they learn important leadership, personal, and career skills. Our sessions cover a wide variety of material and are taught by experienced women leaders. All learning material is provided and kept by participants for future reference.
Leadership basics, such as delegation and persuasion
Organizational skills (project, time and priority management)
Decision making techniques
Effective communication including presentation techniques and public speaking
Branding and social media
Successful interview approaches
Transferable skills and career advancement
Balancing emotion and logic
Using and understanding the “Six Hats” viewpoints and approaches
Thought-Provoking Theoretical Sessions
Experienced Guest Instructors
Teachings and Binder Included
Pillar #2: Mentorship
Participants are carefully matched with an experienced professional who will help guide their project. Our mentors work in varied fields and have a wide range of support they can offer their mentee throughout the program.
Pillar #3: Community Project
Participants are given a first true leadership experience as they apply their training and mentor support to complete an initiative which impacts their community. Not only do they gain valuable experience as a leader, completing their first trial in a structured and forgiving environment, but participants leave the program accomplished, having made a difference.
Conferences with engineers to promote female students' interest in STEM fields at Calixa-Lavallée High School.
Greenhouse construction at Royal West Academy's community garden
Pillar #4: Fostering Dialogue
Before every training weekend, participants are invited to attend a conference with panelists from a diverse background united under a common theme, such as entrepreneurship. The conference is guided by questions and participants are invited to ask their own. These events present excellent networking opportunities, and our panelists are a wealth of career and personal wisdom.
Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Panel of young Quebec entrepreneurs who represented Canada at the 6th annual meeting of The G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance.
Sandrine Futcha holds a bachelor’s degree (UQTR) and a master’s degree (ÉTS) in electrical engineering. Arriving in Canada in 2001 with a grant from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Sandrine is passionate about high technology and volunteer involvement in her community. Sandrine works for Caterpillar Canada where she contributes to improving navigation and remote control software for trucks operating at a mine site. Her contribution lies both in the software development of products and in the integration of navigation systems to increase the productivity and safety of operators in the field. Sensitive to the needs of others, Sandrine has been organizing volunteer meetings with her friends at the Father Dowd Center in Côtes-des-Neiges since 2008. She has also organized and participated in raising funds to assist developing countries.
Dominique Mathieu is an Associate General Legal Counsel at Pratt & Whitney Canada, where she is responsible for managing the legal affairs of the company’s after-sales sector including the network of distributors and independent service providers. Since joining Pratt & Whitney Canada in 2001, she has played an active role in a wide range of issues and transactions, particularly at the international level, such as joint ventures, partnerships, business acquisitions and distribution agreements. Her practice is concentrated in commercial law, competition law and manufacturer liability. Prior to joining Pratt & Whitney Canada, she practiced law as a lawyer at the Montreal office of Joli-Coeur Lacasse Geoffrion Jetté in litigation and commercial law. She holds a bachelor’s degree in law from the Université de Sherbrooke and has been a member of the Quebec Bar since 1996. She also holds a certificate in business administration from the Université de Sherbrooke.
Catherine is currently a candidate for the Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) at McGill University. After graduating from the Université de Montréal with a bachelor’s degree in civil law, Catherine continued her studies at common law at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. A member of the Quebec and Ontario Bar, she then worked for more than four (4) years in a law firm in Montreal and specialized in civil litigation. Its dynamism extends to a variety of charities. In 2013, she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise funds for the Cancer Research Society. In 2014, she participated in the 48-hour Bike Challenge for the Fondation Fais-Un-Vœux Québec. Since 2014, she is also a mentor for Seize Your Future. In her spare time, Catherine enjoys discovering new countries such as Estonia, Lebanon and Paraguay. In addition, she likes to ski, follow the political and judicial news and play the piano. Though very qualified, she does not like to do the dishes.
Carolina Gallo is the Director of Communications for ABB in Canada and Head of Public Affairs, Media and Government Relations for ABB’s Canadian operations, covering 56 locations from coast to coast. These include high voltage production, post-mounted transformers, a wide range of electrical equipment, robotics, distribution and automation control measurement, as well as measurement and analysis sensors. In 2014, she created Canada’s first national ABB event for industry leaders, bringing together more than 100 CEOs and senior business leaders in the sectors of Energy and Industry in Canada, to discuss Canada’s energy landscape with Canada’s Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Gary Doer. It was held in Calgary from September 9 to 11, 2014. She is a member of the Quebec Bar, with a law degree from the Université de Montréal. The AFFQ and the DCI have recognized her as a leader in public affairs and corporate governance in 2008 and 2006.
SYF is a non profit organization created in 2005, that boasts a strong and diversified team. We have several teams working to put together the program, our annual cocktail, and alumni events.
SYF can also count on a team of volunteers whose help is precious. Thanks to this team, we continue to fulfill our mission day after day.
Gabrielle participated in SYF in 2015-2016. She built greenhouses for a community garden at her high school as her leadership project, guided by mentor Karen Baker. She graduated Royal West Academy in 2016, receiving the environment award for her garden project among other initiatives. Gabrielle currently attends Marianopolis College in Arts and Sciences, also working on the Environment and International certificates at the college. She recently co-founded a new club at the college, a local Habitat for Humanity chapter, to help fund and build affordable housing around Montreal.
If you are reading this, then she has finished redesigning this website, and is now working on the upcoming cocktail event. You should come. Check out the events page to get a ticket.
Frequently Asked Questions
We are always looking for people with skills in fields such as social media/communications to help us reach out. We are very open to any other suggestions or expertise you may wish to share! Reach us through our contact page or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Just 20% of donations and funding are spent on administration, dedicating 80% of our budget to raising our young leaders.
SYF is always looking for new mentors. Visit our contact page to reach us, or send an email to email@example.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible!
All materials are provided. At the first meeting, a handbook is given to each participant. It contains various exercises and notes.
We expect our participants to actively participation in learning activities, to work on their projects throughout the year, to hold around once per month meetings with their mentor, and to stay in contact with SYF organizers throughout their year of participation (responding to emails, confirming attendances, etc).
Training weekends are charged and participation in the program represents an additional workload. Marks are important to students, especially around the end of high school and during CEGEP. We do not want the program to have a negative effect on the participants’ scores or lives.
The notes and information we obtain during the interviews allow us to select candidates capable of managing several activities. Exceptions to the average may be made in some cases.
Yes. We firmly believe that money should not be an obstacle to training and we will do everything in our power to help a girl with potential.
However, it should be borne in mind that the actual training costs are close to $ 5,000, while the costs charged to the participant are only $ 500. So, if you can help sponsor a young leader, please let us know.
There are many ways in which you can help SYF. We are looking for financial contributions and corporate sponsorships that will permit us to continue our mission. The actual training costs are close to $5,000 per participant, but each girl is only asked to pay a fraction of that cost in registration fee. Participants are provided with the conferences, mentoring, course materials and accommodation for the three weekends.
To continually improve the program, we are also looking for guest speakers, volunteers, mentors, and event space, as well as new schools to whom we can introduce the program.
Despite the significant progress that has been made over the last few decades in regards to women’s position in society and the workplace, much remains to be done before they achieve full parity with men, both salary- and representation-wise. Even though women make up half of the country’s population, in 2010 only 13 percent of directors at Canada’s top 500 public and private sector companies, and 22 percent of Canada’s federal politicians, were women.
It is important to provide young women with the tools that will help them develop their potential and put their talents to the benefit of society. SYF introduces them to accomplished women who have exceeded expectations and who, by sharing their experiences, inspire the participants to reach beyond their comfort zone. Through conferences and workshops, the program enables the participants to recognize their potential and excel.
Each applicant must submit an application, CV, an essay on an inspiring leader and a short description of the project she wants to develop. She then discusses her vision of leadership, her experiences, ambitions and interests in an interview, during which she can also express what she wants to improve on and what she expects from the program. In some cases, applicants must go through a second interview. The interviews allow the selection committee to make a decision on successful applicants.
By the time the participants complete the program, they are more confident, comfortable in public, and eager to continue contributing to the development and well-being of their community. As they start entering the workforce, SYF alumni who successfully participated in this demanding program while juggling academics and, in many cases, part-time work, become ideal candidates for leadership positions.
As every project must benefit at least 80 people, we pay special attention to the direct and indirect impact of the chosen activities, which helps us to determine SYF’s reach in the community.
In addition, before starting the program, each participant must complete a leadership knowledge questionnaire and self-evaluation. We also ask a parent, a teacher and a friend of the participant to evaluate her, and repeat the process at the end of the program. The data is then analysed and allows us to measure the participants’ progress.
What kind of young woman benefits the most from SYF?
Looking to have a positive impact on society
Seeking to reach her full potential
Wanting character and career development opportunities
Looking to become a more rounded individual