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The In the Lead Program turns 10 this year!

In the Lead Program
In the Lead participant Sergio and Cenovus volunteer coach Darren Pearman

September 2020 – Ten years ago, Denise Blair, Executive Director of Calgary Youth Justice Society, came to Cenovus Energy with an idea for a program that would help vulnerable youth realize their strengths and potential. The result was Cenovus becoming the founding partner of In the Lead, a unique, strengths-based leadership development program that helps to foster well-being in youth through a weekly school curriculum and by pairing them with a volunteer coach.

“One of our main goals through our community investment initiatives is helping youth learn, grow and thrive,” explains Megan Marshall, Senior Community Programs Advisor. “Not only did Cenovus financially invest in the program but we have also had our greatest assets – our employees – act as volunteer coaches.”

Over the past decade, Cenovus has invested over $2 million to build, launch and scale In the Lead and over 400 Cenovus employees have acted as volunteer coaches. And we have been thrilled to see the short and long-term impacts of the program!

To date, In the Lead has helped over 800 vulnerable young people realize their strengths and potential. But we have also seen an increase in other factors that reduce the likelihood of risk-taking behavior from participants. Teens in the program are more likely to:

  • Attend post-secondary school at a higher rate than their peers
  • Volunteer at a higher rate than the Canadian average
  • Have an increased sense of self-worth and a greater understanding of their values and strengths
  • Have an improved ability to maintain and grow resilience

“The data shows that once youth are given the chance to grow and recognize their full potential with the help of a caring adult volunteer, they can become valuable contributors to their communities,” says Marshall. “And it’s not just youth who have benefitted from the program. Feedback from the Cenovus coaches shows they feel they’re better employees, parents and spouses because of their experience as a coach, so it has been a win-win for everyone involved.”

On June 2, Cenovus was presented with the 2020 Calgary Youth Justice Society "You Rock" Difference-Maker Award. This award recognizes Cenovus as an organization that has helped to make a positive difference in the community that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible and recognizes our 10-year involvement in the program.

“Reflecting back on 10 years of In the Lead, it’s clear the program is making a lasting impact in the lives of all participants and we couldn’t be prouder to be a part of that success,” says Marshall.

“These results would not have been possible without Cenovus and their employee volunteers,” explains Blair. “Their long-term commitment has resulted in significant benefit for our organization, the youth we serve, their parents, their school, and the community at large.”