Gary was the founding President of The Young Citizens Foundation in 2009 and continued in that role until 2019. It was a national public foundation with representation across the country. Its national presence continues today, but in a different format.
Canada’s future depends upon the development of strong leadership in our youth. The mission of the Young Citizens Foundation was to assist young Canadians to grow and mature as committed, knowledgeable and contributing Canadian citizens. The Foundation achieved this objective by encouraging young Canadians to participate in development programs operated by several nationally recognized organizations that provide life-learning opportunities for our youth which will significantly influence and benefit their development as committed Canadian citizens.
Participation in these organizations develops leadership skills, exposes students to the various citizenship ideals that the country values and provides some very positive mentoring.
This encouragement takes two forms.
- The Foundation works with these organizations to help promote their programs.
- It provides post-secondary scholarships to selected participants. It is important that these students, who have developed these positive attitudes about Canada, continue their education so that they can achieve positions of leadership in their communities, regionally and nationally and put these positive attitudes into practice.
The Young Citizens Foundation provides scholarships to young Canadians across the country who are enrolled in the following national youth citizenship organizations including:
- The Royal Canadian Sea Cadets
- The Royal Canadian Army Cadets
- The Royal Canadian Air Cadets
- Scouts Canada
- Rotary’s Adventure With Citizenship.
The Encounters With Canada Program
The Young Citizens Foundation also provided financial support for young Canadians to attend the Encounters With Canada Program in Ottawa. Gary Bennett was the British Columbia President of that program for twenty years.
NOTE: Sadly, in 2021, the Board of Directors of the Historica Foundation (the program’s owners), made the following statement on their website, “Due to the challenges and costs of COVID-19, we are saddened to announce the closure of Encounters with Canada. Since 1982, it has been a formative experience for more than 113,000 youths.”
STRUCTURE CHANGES FOR THE YOUNG CITIZENS FOUNDATION
Because the board of directors of The Young Citizens Foundation was getting on in age, and to ensure the continuance of the Young Citizens Foundation Scholarship Program, the YCF board transferred its endowment to the Vancouver Foundation. The Vancouver Foundation is Canada’s largest community foundation, and it has a lengthy and solid history of handling scholarships. They will continue to manage The Young Citizens Foundation Scholarship Program in much the same way that it has been done in the past. The foundation’s new name within the Vancouver Foundation is ‘The Young Citizens Foundation Transferable Fund’. The YCF Board is proud to have partnered with the Vancouver Foundation in this initiative. To learn more about ‘The Young Citizens Foundation Transferable Fund’, click on the following link:
Gary continues to serve as the Fund Advisor for that initiative.
Presenting a scholarship to Cadet WO2 Anne George along with Major Greg Dowler – Commanding Officer of 819 Skyhawk Squadron.
Presenting a scholarship to Kelowna student Rachel Smith along with former Member of Parliament Ron Cannon.
Endorsement by The Army Cadet League of Canada
The Army Cadet League of Canada is delighted to be able to partner with the Young Citizens Foundation (YCF) to provide an annual post-secondary scholarship to a deserving teenage member of the Royal Canadian Army Cadets.
The partnership between our two organizations hi-lites the commitment we both have to support young Canadians in a meaningful way as they develop into the leaders of tomorrow. Education and practical experience are the keys to self-confidence and personal development, and the YCF has stepped up to the plate to support young Canadians in a meaningful way as they grapple with the cost of education. Cadets chosen for this scholarship have demonstrated that they can balance the pressures of school curriculum and the rigors of the Cadet Program with other aspects of their lives. Given financial support to continue their education at college or university level there is no doubt they will continue to distinguish themselves, maximize their potential, and ultimately thrive and succeed in business, art, the professions or government.
The financial support provided by the YCF ensures that many young Canadians will have the means to achieve these dreams as they graduate from the Cadet Program and move on to another chapter of their lives.
Executive Director of the Army Cadet League of Canada
Endorsement from Scouts Canada’s CEO
The Young Citizens Foundation and Scouts Canada are committed to assisting Canadian youth as they grow and develop into well rounded individuals, better prepared for success in the world. To showcase this commitment, Scouts Canada and The Young Citizens Foundation have partnered to provide an annual post-secondary scholarship to a worthy Scouting youth. The Young Citizens Foundation Scholarship Award will be presented to a Scouting youth who has shown overall excellence and development as a young Canadian and noted achievement as a contributing youth leader.
On behalf of Scouts Canada, I would like to thank the Young Citizens Foundation for their contribution and commitment to Canadian and Scouting youth. As partners, we can provide youth with an opportunity to move forward with their formal education and excel as citizens and leaders.
Executive Commissioner & CEO
To date the Foundation has supported approximately 400 Canadian youth who have participated in these various programs.
For his work in this area for the last twenty-five years, Gary was the recipient of The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal