By Andrea Peacock/News staff
For a local teenager, allocating grants worth up to $30,000 to community initiatives and organizations is just part of the job.
Eric Dykeman, 19, is a member of Coast Capital Savings’ Young Leaders Community Council.
Dykeman started working at Coast Capital Savings in Sidney when he was in Grade 11. He recently finished his first year at Camosun College where he studied criminal justice.
Every year, Coast Capital donates seven per cent of its pre-tax earnings directly to community initiatives. This amount totaled $4.8 million in 2013 and will add up to $5.7 million for this year. The Young Leaders Community Council is in charge of looking through grant applications and deciding which organizations will get the money.
Dykeman said it was overwhelming at first, but now it seems like a breeze.
“It’s been very enlightening [to see] how charitable organizations work and it’s incredible to learn about all the different organizations that are out there in Victoria,” said Dykeman.
There are three councils: one on Vancouver Island, one in Metro Vancouver and one in the Fraser Valley. Each consists of eight youth under the age of 30, four from the community and four Coast Capital employees
The grant money is evenly distributed between the three councils, said Maureen Young, manager of community partnerships and investment at Coast Capital.
The council reviews grants form organizations in four different areas: financial, family and social connections, education and health.
According Young, the council was created so that young leaders who are already engaged in the community can make decisions about where to best invest Coast Capital’s money.
Although he originally wanted to become a lawyer, Dykeman said he is considering going into teaching or even getting involved in the charitable sector after what he has learned on the council.
Dykeman’s favourite part of being involved with the council is hearing the success stories from the organizations applying for grants.
“They bring forward people that have been benefited from their different programs and initiatives,” said Dykeman. “I think just hearing their stories is incredible.”
Dykeman started on the youth council in April, and Young said he has been a welcome addition.
“He is so mature for his age,” said Young.
Besides working at Coast Capital and being on the youth council, Dykeman volunteers as a community liaison for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Tour de Rock campaign.
He also enjoys learning new skills, such as cooking.
“I took a Thai cooking class the other day, and I did burn a few things,” Dykeman admitted. “It’s a learning process.”