Bootcamps for Change In-Shelter Youth Fitness Program and Scholarship Coordinator

Bootcamps for ChangeAnywhere1M ago

Position Title: #SweatierForTheBetter In-Shelter Youth Fitness Program Coordinator

Location: Remote

Position Summary: We are looking for in-shelter youth fitness program coordinator volunteers to join our team! You will be responsible for coming up with creative ways to reach and engage our stakeholders for our scholarship program and in-shelter fitness programs. 

About Bootcamps for Change: #SweatierForTheBetter: Over 1200 Youth Impacted!

Since August 2017, “Bootcamps for Change” has facilitated and organized weekly in-shelter health & fitness programs for youth experiencing homelessness in Toronto: Horizons for Youth, Eva's Initiatives & Yonge Street Mission. We have also branched out to Thunder Bay, Ontario with John Howard Society. 

Our programs allow youth to improve their physical health, mental health, and resilience. After seeing first-hand the natural athletic ability of youth we were meeting, we started the “#SweatierForTheBetter” scholarship. This funds fitness certification for homeless youth, in addition to providing any career or mentorship resources they may need. The recipients are subsequently paid by us to facilitate fitness programs to their peers in shelters, in addition to being connected with local mentorship and job opportunities. All scholarship recipients we have certified in Toronto are currently in full-time positions at LA and Goodlife Fitness in Toronto, exiting the shelter system.

Health and fitness is THE vehicle driving our ultimate goal; removing barriers for prosperous, healthy and employable youth development. We want to prevent youth in the system from becoming adults in the system. 


Position Summary: As Bootcamps for Change’s #SweatierForTheBetter In-Shelter Youth Fitness Program Coordinator, this position will assist with our in-shelter fitness and youth scholarship program in various cities with overseeing and developing onboarding strategy, campaigns, conducting research, devising and presenting ideas to improve our shelter program.


Impact Orientation

Intended Impact Statement: User/Beneficiary: (Youth Experiencing Homelessness)

Our pilot will provide up to 10 interested youth with 4 weeks of sports rehab (physiotherapy) prior to our implementation of 8 (4 female/4 male) health and wellness sessions (yoga, weightlifting, physiotherapy, boxing, self-defense) in a youth homeless shelter. We will enlist 2 youths experiencing homelessness in our #SweatierForTheBetter scholarship/mentorship program to pay for them to become a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Upon completion, we will hire them at $150/session for 4 sessions to teach fitness to their peers in-shelter, encouraged by fitness mentors. They will find meaningful (part-time+) work in the fitness industry in order to exit the shelter system, and live independently.

For whom? Youth (16-29*in-shelter fitness program, 18*scholarship-29) of all genders experiencing homelessness.

Geography: Toronto, ON (Blue Door, Eva's or Youth Without Shelter) or Vancouver, BC (Covenant House BC).

STRATEGIES AND/OR ACTIVITIES our organization delivers to achieve our intended impact(s)

Health and fitness is THE vehicle driving our ultimate goal; removing barriers for prosperous, healthy and employable youth development.

We cast a wide net in terms of providing beneficial fitness programming for homeless youth, but our core product/differentiator is the means to enroll in fitness certification education and hiring them directly to facilitate our wellness programs to their peers.

There is a dual benefit (directly providing employment to user #1, while providing free wellness programs to user #2 in a safe space).

These fitness/wellness services may be considered "non-essential" in society, but based on my personal and professional experience should be deemed necessary for optimal physical and mental health.

By empowering at-risk youth through work, our target market learns that with support and access to resources, the stereotypes surrounding this population are incorrect - encouraging them to get involved, which also enables our fundraising/volunteering model.

Project Details


Products we sell: Tickets to our fitness fundraising parties: can take a variety of forms from group workouts to networking events between fitness professionals and the fitness industry consumers.

To whom: Fitness Enthusiasts: Typically young (22-35s) higher-income (50k+ independent income) typically but not exclusively females that frequent studio gyms or love staying active, very social, enjoys giving back to the community, and may work in fields like healthcare, technology, and finance. We also directly invite personal trainers, group fitness instructors, yoga instructors, boxing coaches, athletes, gym owners, etc. to these events to encourage awareness and therefore involvement in the organization.

How: Social media, word-of-mouth, effective stakeholder (gyms, fitness professionals, media, homelessness organization) engagement.


Products we want to sell:

- An accredited, insurable fitness certification to effectively engage at-risk/homeless youth using movement. "#SweatierForTheBetter: Engaging At-Risk Youth Through Movement" curriculum would include themes like mental health, diversity training, child protection policy and procedures, movement modifications, empathy, appropriate language and behaviours.

- Branded resistance bands (hopefully produced in an environmentally-friendly way).

To whom: Fitness professionals, gyms, teachers, existing fitness certification providers, universities/colleges.

How: Social media, word-of-mouth, strategic partnerships.

Actual or intended OUTCOMES/IMPACTS of our Social Enterprise activities, including who our beneficiaries are.

Actual: Our current scholarship recipients in Toronto (3): have the foundation for sustainable livelihood: increased social inclusion, increased dignity and security, and improved cash flow.

One scholarship recipient cited our program as the reason he quit smoking heavily.


Beneficiary 1: #SweatierForTheBetter Scholarship Recipient:

- The recipient has exited the shelter system (living independently)

- The recipient is able to gain meaningful (part-time+) employment

- The recipient remains actively involved with the Bootcamps for Change organization

Beneficiary 2: In-Shelter Fitness Program Participant:

- Youth has the ability to use tools learned in the workshop independently

- Confidence increased since beginning the program

Program Delivery: Fitness Professionals mentoring beneficiary 1, Teaching in-shelter to beneficiary 2, or learning through our #SweatierForTheBetter certification:

- Improved perception of the homeless population

- New understanding of challenges at-risk youth face and new-found ability to engage youth experiencing homelessness through empathetic movement

- Continued advocacy in the field

Economic, Health and Social Outcomes:

We want to look at this from every angle: economic, health and social.

The potential economic impact includes: increased economic output from employment and the cost savings from housing/shelters, medical costs associated with hospitalization and low physical activity levels, incarcerations costs, and treatments for alcohol/drug addiction.

How our Social Enterprise contributes to the organization’s mission and intended impact (or already does), and why our organization is well-positioned to lead this Social Enterprise.

We will employ a social franchise business model, involving distinct components for revenue generation and for carrying out the mission of the organization.

Our core innovation is to open up new channels for consumerism in the fitness industry to improve societal capital by helping fund the programs that help youth access education employment. Our customers have the opportunity to engage directly with our key beneficiary which is unique and invaluable.

The production of an accredited, insurable fitness certification for fitness professionals to teach at-risk youth would fit with the relationships we've built with fitness industry professionals and influencers to promote sales, while also improving the quality of in-shelter programs.

We position vulnerable populations should have equitable access to health services. Fitness can be intimidating. So, we cultivate a safe, inclusive space for youth to access these services in-shelter with their paid peers as teachers. There is typically a high barrier of entry to facilitate programs face-to-face with a vulnerable population, but due to our unique experience in addition to glowing reviews from shelters, youth, and fitness professionals, we have overcome this challenge.

Current status of Social Enterprise (e.g., ideation, feasibility testing, market researching, business planning/modeling, piloting, launching, operating, scaling)

Operating: Weekly In-Shelter Fitness Program (boot camp, yoga, weightlifting, mediation) at Horizons for Youth shelter in Toronto, ON and John Howard Society in Thunder Bay, ON: Over 250 fitness professionals mobilized.

#SweatierForTheBetter Scholarship: 3 youth completed after being scouted: two of which are hired full-time at LA and Goodlife Fitness, all three exited shelter system.

Scaling: In-Shelter Program: Covenant House Vancouver has reached out and would like to implement a pilot project as defined in Impact Orientation.

Business Planning/Modelling and Market Researching:

1. #SweatierForTheBetter Fitness Certification: Engaging At-Risk Youth Through Movement (Note: curriculum content is in ideation): Brainstorming partnerships (continuing education credits with existing fitness certification providers) and researching accreditation process and associated costs to develop this program.

Market Research:

- Gauging interest from fitness professional community

- Potential Pricing

2. In-Shelter Program: Implementing Sports Rehab (Physiotherapy) and Healthy food partner

3. Scholarship Program: Exploring methods to reach and open opportunity to at-risk youth that are not living in shelters - couch surfing, precarious housing, etc.

In-Shelter Youth Fitness Program and Scholarship Coordinator Projects:


Project 1. Bootcamps for Change #SweatierForTheBetter Employment Program

All of the youth we have currently onboarded our scholarship program we have "scouted" - meaning we have seen them participating in our in-shelter fitness program, witnessed their natural athletic + coaching ability, then "pitched" them after the session with the opportunity. We have been lucky, meaning all 3 have found full-time work in the fitness industry and are self-motivated. The success of our scholarship recipients says a lot about us.

However, as we scale and want to increase our reach, there are only about 2700 youth shelter beds in Canada, but up to 40,000 are homeless on any given night. Realistically, a very small subset of these youth would be a good fit for the scholarship, although they would all benefit from the in-shelter fitness program for their physical + mental health. Clearly, there is a lot of youth that could greatly benefit from this opportunity that we are missing: couch surfing, homeless for a short period of time, etc.

We are also exploring the idea to open this up to youth that just identifies as "at-risk": meaning their families may be low-income (we would have to define low-income parameters), or they are in an unsafe situation at home and are looking to flee. If we are exploring this idea, we have to make it fair by creating clear guidelines of what youth we could potentially accept, and which would be ineligible. Either way, we will need to create a clear definition of a "great fit" for this program, so we can also build an application form.

We need your help determining: 

  • A clear description of the youth we can accept into the scholarship program: (what constitutes "at-risk?) *must be 18+
  • A clear description of a "great fit" for this program.
  • How can we make this process supportive and inclusive?
  • What questions should be on the application form for youth applicants? 
  • What questions should be on an application form for a "Request for Support" for shelters to fill out? (IMO: #SweatierForTheBetter Scholarship + in-shelter fitness program should be separate forms)

*If we are opening the opportunity to "at-risk", we should determine appropriate questions for guidance counselors, etc [TBD based on point of entry strategy]

  • Describing the channels to deliver the value to our beneficiaries: How will we reach out to the new beneficiaries? Through guidance counselors in low-income schools? Rec centers (i.e. YMCA)? How will we "market" our scholarship opportunity using tools such as social media, posters, email outreach, etc.? Through what channels do we communicate with the beneficiaries?
  • Explore our methods to build, and maintain relationships with the beneficiaries. Potentially using a platform like slack, but also scheduling check-ins and coming up with creative ideas for upcoming and previous scholarship recipients to support each other. 


Project 2. Youth Scholarship Recipient Engagement

We need your help exploring: 

  • What should be in a contract to be developed for youth (agreement on both sides, between us and the youth): We have not done this yet as we have had the chance and opportunity to really get to know the scholarship recipients beforehand and they are also "vetted" by the shelters in Toronto whom we have a great working relationship with. We cannot casually front thousands of dollars for youth we do not know. The success of our scholarship recipients says a lot about us.
  • What should be in a potential youth success roadmap while in the shelter system before they: i.e. quit smoking...then getting part time/full time work...then exiting the shelter system? 
  • Testimonials? How should we ask the youth for testimonials to be shared on the website and with our supporters...through a letter? How can we use these testimonials for marketing purposes?
  • Devising a calendar for the scholarship pilot 
  • Determining a Check-ins schedule and calendar 


Project 3. In-Shelter Fitness & Sports Rehab Program 

We need help with improving our fitness program in-shelters. We are starting to also offer sports rehab programming to youth living in shelters. We recognize that injuries disproportionally impact youth experiencing homelessness. Injuries are not only a barrier to exercise but also to living life to the fullest. Injuries impacts one’s mental health and also the ability to sleep well. 

  • We’d need help to create a sheet that the physiotherapist would fill out to help our in-shelter fitness instructors understand the injuries that the youth is currently facing. This should have a section indicating “movements to avoid” and “movements to perform” for the youth. This might involve scheduling a 15 minute phone call or chatting with physiotherapists in our network. Keep in mind you wouldn’t have to actually create these sheets, just determine the content that we would share with our incredible graphic designers.

  • We’d need help to create a sheet that the personal trainer or group fitness instructor teaching the in-shelter classes would fill out to help the youth perform the movements on their own. Keep in mind you wouldn’t have to actually create these sheets, just determine the content that we would share with our incredible graphic designers.
  • We need help improving our post-workshop feedback survey for youth. This is what we currently have:

  • Social worker research: We currently have a “Training document for Instructors” that highlights some surface-level basics on how to engage homeless youth through fitness that we share with instructors before they volunteer in-shelter. We need your help in improving this. We touch on things like mental health and cultural sensitivities, in addition to how to create a safe space. However, we should expand upon this existing knowledge. I think indigenous safety should also be included, some information based on addictions (and signs of an overdose), the scope of practice, injuries common in those experiencing homelessness and reminding fitness professionals to provide modifications, and examples of empathetic attitudes and language to use, and language to avoid. This may involve reaching out to professionals in these sectors, in addition to reaching out to social workers in our network to gather information.
  • When fitness professionals come on our website, there should be a fitness instructor application for them to apply to volunteer or work at our shelter fitness programs. What questions should be on Fitness Instructor Applications? I.e. Why do you want to do this? What fitness certifications do you hold? Do you have any convictions? How did you hear about us? Etc. This may include chatting with social workers in our network. 
  • There should be a mentorship application as well. This one should include questioning if they have a vulnerable sector check, do they have any connections with local gyms, do you have any experience working with youth or vulnerable populations? 

Project 4. Request for support documents

  • When shelter workers come on our website, there should be an application for them to apply for support through our in-shelter fitness program. In order to create the best program for them and start streamlining our processes, what questions should be in this request for support? This should be framed like an initial needs assessment for the shelter.
  • When guidance counselors or youth come on our website, there should be an application form for them to apply for support through our #SweatierForTheBetter scholarship. What questions should be on this application?

Project 5. First steps to securing food at every workshop 

  • We need help securing food at every in-shelter workshop. You’d research and list major food charity/nonprofits in major cities including Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, and Kingston, in addition to finding contact information for their staff. You could also help us by drafting an initial reach out email/partnership pitch to these organizations.

Project 6. Engagement with fitness professionals leading up to opportunity in-shelter

  • There is ideally a 4 week lead up time to engage an instructor pre-workshop. We need your help building a calendar with the scheduled weekly check-ins with defined goals for each week.
  • We need your help building different assets (social media posts, newsletter clippings that the instructor can send out or the gym they are working at can send out, and email outlines for their networks)for the following that the instructor can pick from, based on their passions:
  • I.e. Donations for food
  • Donations for athletic clothing and running shoes
  • Donations for workout equipment
  • All 3: Donations for food + athletic clothing and running shoes, + workout equipment
  • Monetary donations for #SweatierForTheBetter Scholarship recipients: this can be done through our CrowdChange 

We need your help: 

  • Drafting thank you email for trainers post-workshop, including asking them to write a testimonial and like us on Facebook!
  • + Developing a feedback survey for our trainers post-workshop (how can we make the experience better, has your perception of homelessness improved since working with us)?

Project 7. Research: Look up the owners, advisory board, the board of directors and staff for the following companies:  

  • Romwod
  • Rogue fitness
  • Nobull
  • Born primitive: united in movement
  • Bearkomplex
  • Peloton
  • Mayhem athlete
  • Fitaid by lifeaid beverage co.
  • Morning chalk up: media m-f newsletter for crossfitters
  • The WOD life
  • Virus intl
  • Street parking fitness
  • Gymshark
  • APL (athletic propulsion labs)
  • Bandier
  • Carbon38
  • IDEA Health & Fitness
  • Issa Online
  • NSCA
  • ASCM
  • MoveU
  • Muscle & Fitness
  • NCSF
  • Personal Trainer Collective

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