Celebrating Our Community, Introducing New Team Members, and More!

In this issue, we congratulate DAREarts, a member of Benchmark’s community that we featured last year. For those that don’t remember, or are new here: DAREarts provides leadership opportunities. They offer children and youth a turning point; a critical moment of early intervention where they see the brilliant potential of each child and help them to see it for themselves. They empower young people to activate positive change in their lives and in their communities. Students return to classes more engaged, with stronger participation rates, ready to learn, challenging themselves, taking positive risks, and are more likely to further their educational journey.

Over the past year, the organization has gone through many changes, including a brand update, to Thrive Youth! This rebranding initiative widens the impact on youth, by focusing on a continuum of care and a holistic approach in their new three-year strategic plan.

Learn more about the changes in the video HERE

Thrive Youth has evolved and grown since we last featured them. There is a lot more to spotlight! Let’s take a look at what they’ve been up to. 

In this feature, Thrive Youth speaks to how they have evolved their understanding of the critical importance of continuity for students facing marginalized support services. 

As well as having learned that it’s not just about adapting to leadership trends but instead charting a course that feels unique to who they are as a brand. 

Thrive Youth Development Canada envisions a world where children and youth are confident, capable, and connected to reach their potential and thrive.

Their mission is to create safe and supportive spaces where children and youth can explore creative expression, learn about themselves and the world around them, and develop the skills and confidence needed to create positive change in their lives and their communities.

Read more on the incredible values of the updated program in the full interview below. 

1) How has the organization evolved over the last year?

The organization has evolved significantly over the last year. Our new strategic plan prioritizes depth over breadth of experience, looking at the longevity of impact for each student by increasing our focus on continuity of service and comprehensive supports. We have evolved our understanding of the critical importance of continuity for students in marginalized supports, which we have been discussing over the past few years and growing towards, but now have a clear plan forward to pursue.

2) Why do you believe that organizations like yours are more important now than they’ve ever been?

More and more work falls to community service agencies. Young people in under-resourced communities are not being provided for by the government or the education system, and there are significant gaps in the opportunities made available to young people. We see students who are facing significant barriers and need the consistent support and encouragement of positive adult role models and programs that empower their personal development and sense of self. This has an effect on every aspect of their life from showing up to school more ready to participate, to building healthy fulfilling relationships with people around them.

3)  What are your top tips for the leaders of tomorrow?

Stay true to your values and operate with integrity. Don’t follow leadership trends, instead chart a course that feels unique to who you are as an individual and let that be your guide. And never let anyone tell you that you’re not capable of something or that a goal is too lofty – reach big because you’re capable of realizing those goals.

4) How can people get involved with DAREarts/Thrive Youth and help their communities?

We deeply appreciate any financial contribution that folks can make to support our work and the young people we serve. We also have a roster of amazing employee engagement opportunities for companies, so please inquire with us and we’d love to discuss team building and volunteer work with your employees.

Thank you very much Thrive Youth for sharing your story with us. It is our pleasure to once again showcase the work you do to make our communities better. 

 We also want to send our dearest congratulations to Jenn, who has been the face of the organization for many years. Jenn will be stepping down as CEO, and taking her place on the Board. Jenn’s amazing passion and talents will still be utilized at Thrive Youth, in this exciting role. 

Thank you Jenn for everything you have done and continue to do for our communities and the people in them! 

The Benchmark team is growing and we are so happy to welcome Natasha Wright and Vanessa Yee-Young as our new Benefit Administrators.

Natasha comes with 10 years of experience in the Insurance and Benefits industry. Before joining Benchmark, she served in claims adjudication and analysis and over the years gained expertise in providing the full spectrum of administrative responsibilities in employee benefits planning. When she isn’t working, you will find her decorating her home or spending time with her daughter!


Vanessa has over 11 years of progressive experience in client and retail customer service responsibilities. With her educational background in both Visual Merchandising Arts and Events Management, she has a keen eye for detail and provides a great value by joining our frontline resource for plan members. When she isn’t working, you will find her working on floral arrangements and spending time with her family! 

We can’t wait to see you both flourish in this new role, welcome to the Benchmark family!