Youth Leaders in Action

Please note the following changes to the Youth Leaders in Action (YLA) Program and Youth Exchange Program (YEP):

The Youth Leaders in Action (YLA) Program – 6-9 weeks/4-6 months projects:
Ends: March 31st, 2015

Canada World Youth’s classic Youth Exchange Program (YEP):
We are proud to announce two tremendously important initiatives, the creation of The Indonesia-Canada World Youth Association & The Philippines-Canada World Youth Association, comprised of committed alumni. With the launch of these entities overseas, we will establish a Global Network of Youth Organizations whose objectives will mirror our Classic Youth Exchange Program. We are also starting conversations with Colombia!

So stay tuned and visit our website regularly for future developments!


A Week in the Life of a Volunteer

Who can participate?

The Youth Leaders in Action program is open to youth from across Canada who are between the ages of 17 and 25 (as of December 31st, 2013), Canadian citizens or landed immigrants, in good health, open-minded and interested in learning from and working with diverse communities and cultures.

**Canada World Youth is committed to equity in recruitment and diversity. We highly encourage applications from Aboriginal youth, visible and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, persons of minority sexual orientations and gender identities, and others who may contribute to nurture the diversity of our volunteer teams.

I have already done a CWY project. Can I do another one?
At CWY, youth can only apply or participate in one CIDA funded project and also to only one project funded by the Ministère des relations internationales (MRI) in Québec. This allows for as many youth as possible to live the CWY experience. For any exception to this rule, a request will have to be submitted to the Volunteer Support Unit of CWY where a committee will make a decision. In the case that a project had to be cancelled, the youth participating on that project could be offered placements on another project.

How much does it cost?

CWY asks each youth volunteer to contribute $3,200 for the 4-6 month projects as well as a non-refundable registration fee of CAN$250.

CWY will cover the majority of your program costs including:

  • Domestic and international travel and transportation
  • Life and liability insurance in Canada and health insurance while overseas
  • Housing, food and accommodation costs for the duration of the program
  • Education and program resources
  • Weekly volunteer allowance

Need help with fundraising ideas? Contact us! We will help provide you with the tools and personal support needed to ensure that you meet your fundraising requirement. CWY works to ensure equal opportunity and access to our programs. If you have any concerns regarding this fundraising amount, please contact us at We are here to help.

How do I apply?

4-6 Month Projects

We will select youth volunteers on a first come, first served basis. Those who send us a completed application the soonest will have priority for the four-to-six (4-6) month Youth Leaders in Action projects.

A complete application means that you have ALL of the following:

  • Online application
  • You have paid your $250 registration fee
  • Medical forms completed and signed by a physician and sent to CWY
  • Criminal Record Check (vulnerable sector)

The following is a breakdown of the process from the time you apply to the time you begin your 4-6 month project.

Step 1

Application Form: Complete the Youth Leaders in Action Application Form. You will then be provided with your own unique webpage called “My File” to help you track your progress throughout the selection process.

Step 2

Registration Fee: Our projects are unique and in high demand so we ask that you pay your $250 non-refundable registration fee in order to move your application on to the next step.  You will not be considered for a spot on a team until we receive your $250 registration fee.

Step 3

Medical & Criminal Record Check: We have a responsibility to make sure we place you in a program where you will be safe and are able to succeed. We therefore ask you to complete a medical form that will also be emailed to you once you have completed the online application form. This is a critical step so don’t procrastinate.  Get it done as soon as you submit your application online!  We will provide you with more details once you submit your online application.

Step 4

Payment: To confirm your participation and guarantee a spot on a team, we ask that you pay the total contribution amount of $3,200 before the deadlines set out in your MyFile.

Not respecting the deadlines could bring CWY to reject your participation and you losing out on this incredible opportunity.  Your spot is not guaranteed until we receive full payment so don’t wait, act quickly!

Step 5

Preparation: Once you have paid your $250 registration fee, submitted your medical check, and completed your full payment, we will be in touch with you to set up a meeting, either in person or by phone/Skype. This meeting is intended to provide you with more information to prepare you for your project. A detailed list of things that you will need to obtain prior to the beginning of your program (passport, vaccines, etc.) will be available on your MyFile. Don’t worry, you will receive support from CWY staff throughout this whole process!

Everything is completed? It’s time to pack your bags!!!

What does the Youth Leaders in Action program include?

A Youth Leaders in Action Project at a Glance

The 4-6 month Youth Leaders in Action program includes:

  • Two phases

    Half of your program is spent in a Canadian community and the other half in one of our 13 international partner countries. In addition to discovering a new part of the world, you’ll also have a chance to learn more about the diversity of Canada!

  • Counterpart

    Each Canadian volunteer is paired with a volunteer from the exchange country for the duration of the program. The reciprocity of this program is what sets it apart!

  • Intercultural learning

    Discover the culture and daily life of a community in Canada, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe or Asia! Host family living and volunteer work are some of the direct ways in which you will engage with the local community. Your program will also include opportunities for educational activities and visits to complement your learning.

  • Volunteer work

    While overseas, you will contribute to community-driven development projects run by our partner organizations. These projects focus on health, the environment or gender equity and have a direct, concrete and positive impact on the host communities. More information on the projects can be found by clicking on our partner countries on the map above or by consulting our International Partnerships section.

    While in Canada (4-6 month program only), you will volunteer for local community service organizations such as homeless shelters, food banks, youth clubs, environmental conservation centres, meals-on-wheels services, schools, assisted living centres, or divisions of local government.

  • Host family living

    You will be housed in host families, amazing people from the area who provide a great opportunity to get to know another culture, community, life-style, language and food!

  • Training

    Pre-departure training, volunteer orientation camps, community orientation camps and educational activity days are all trainings that take place throughout the program. For more information on these trainings, see A Youth Leaders in Action Program at a Glance.

  • Health and safety

    Each group is accompanied by experienced CWY project supervisors, who work with your group, providing clear safety guidelines and informing programming decisions made by both CWY and the partner organization. Host communities in Canada and overseas have been carefully selected by CWY based on clearly established health and safety criteria.

Can I obtain academic credits for this program?

In certain circumstances, you can obtain academic credits for your participation in CWY’s Youth Leaders in Action program. There are two ways to go about it:

  1. Ask your institution about receiving credits for a CWY program

    Please refer to the educational institution that you are attending for the requirements and documentation needed to apply for academic credits, as every institution has a different process. CWY has produced a guide called “The CWY Experience: Worth its Weight in Gold!” that can help you build a case in asking for academic credits for your CWY program.

  2. Register for a program with our existing academic partner

    CWY collaborates with three academic institutions who offer academic credits to young people who complete our Youth Leaders in Action program:

How to Obtain Academic Credits