On June 12, 2015, the Oasis Skateboard Factory (OSF) received a 2015 Eva’s Awards for Ending Youth Homelessness. In addition to national recognition of their fantastic program, OSF will also receive a prize of $25,000.

The award is putting the spotlight on what works in terms of preventing, reducing and ending the homelessness that youth experience. This focus challenges us all to think beyond the emergency needs of vulnerable youth. The goal of ending homelessness means equipping youth in multiple domains of their life to achieve greater and longer lasting stability. It also means program impacts that have results on different levels—from housing outcomes, for example, to skill building, employment, improved health and other outcomes.

The goal of the Eva’s Awards to End Youth Homelessness is to recognize community initiatives that are:

  • Moving beyond responding to the most basic needs of homeless and at-risk youth
  • Demonstrating significant impacts in the lives of vulnerable youth
  • Delivering programs or services aimed at preventing youth homelessness
  • Breaking the cycle of homelessness among youth by integrating supports such as: housing, education, employment, family connections, and interventions to address mental health concerns and/or addictions.

The Oasis Skateboard Factory (Oasis Alternative School) is being recognized for its use of skateboards and street art as a catalyst for hard to engage youth to reconnect with the education system and graduate from high school. The initiative:

  • Offers at-risk youth who are involved in skateboarding and street art the chance to excel in school
  • Turns an extracurricular interest in urban culture into a catalyst for applied learning
  • Allows students to earn high school credits by designing, building and marketing their own skateboards and creating skateboarding zines
  • Teaches students how to run a cooperative design business
  • Facilitates connections between students and community partners such as the Art Gallery of Ontario and local businesses
  • Helps students reach their goals, whether those goals are to obtain credits, enter the work force, graduate from high school, or go on to post-secondary education
  • Matches youth with mentors within the community thereby offering an opportunity to work alongside local entrepreneurs
  • Connects students to support services when needed.

Impact for youth:

  • Marginalized and disengaged youth re-engage in education and gain the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in the working world
  • Over 90 percent of students enrolled complete their courses. Over the last two years, the program had a 100% course completion rate (and completion of requirements for Ontario Secondary School Diplomas)
  • Many students go on to apprenticeships, jobs, post-secondary institutions
  • Youth develop entrepreneurial skills and apply them in the real world. ​

To learn more about Eva’s Awards for Ending Youth Homelessness and other winners, please visit www.awards.evasinitiatives.com.