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The Student Voice Initiative is a federally-incorporated education consultancy focused on working with school boards to strengthen student engagement in Canada.

  • Activate

    We help activate “Student Trustees” on school boards looking to advance the ultimate solution for effective student voice.
  • Build

    We provide tailored expertise and action planning to help boards, districts and divisions build and improve robust student engagement models.
  • Inspire

    We share the stories of exceptional student engagement successes across the country to encourage change in education systems across the globe.

About Us

We collaborate with school boards across the country to integrate the position of a democratically-elected student trustee and engage in student leadership development to create useful feedback loops. SVI also offers localized services in engagement analysis and action-planning. Devoted to furthering student success in communities across the country by leveraging the creativity, insight, and expertise of Canada’s young change-makers, SVI deeply believes in the benefits that the student voice offers to our education system.



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    • Student Trustees: Coming to a BC school district near you

      “Be it resolved that BCSTA request the provincial government to amend the School Act to enable Boards of Education to include student trustees.”

      What an incredible day.

      Spread out across Canada yet simultaneously glued to our screens, Team SVI was frantic. While scrolling through our Twitter feeds as if our lives depended on it, we couldn’t believe our eyes when this tweet popped up.

      #stuvoiceBC success!

      The thing is, this wasn’t the first time this motion had been tabled at a British Columbia School Trustees Association (BCSTA) annual general meeting. In April 2013, a very similar motion was presented by the Vancouver School Board (VSB) but narrowly defeated in a vote of 122 to 99. We had to work harder than ever to reverse the vote in 2014, and we took several pivotal steps to do so. 

      Patti Bacchus, Chair of the VSB, is one of our strongest proponents and a bold supporter of student voice.

      For me, it all started in February 2012 when I was chatting with my friend Mathias Memmel, a past student trustee of Avon Maitland District School Board in Ontario. We met at a conference in Ottawa and I’d recalled him mentioning the student trustee role during one of our conversations. Student trustees were at first a foreign concept, but after grasping an understanding, I could not understand why the position was not already in place in BC. Students are the direct primary consumers of the education system. Why was every single decision made entirely by adults who had last spent time in the classroom years ago? Why did students not have a say in their own education? With this in mind, 
      I decided to introduce the concept of student trustees to the VSB trustees.

      I first presented the idea to the VSB’s Committee I which was chaired by Trustee Mike Lombardi, a vocal proponent of student voice. Shortly before my presentation, I coincidentally met a new friend (now SVI’s Executive Director, Chris Grouchy) from the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association while travelling in Ontario, who connected me with SVI’s co-founders. After receiving a unanimous go-ahead by Committee I to present at the next board meeting, I flew off to Toronto to begin my first year of university and delve into my new work with SVI. After my departure from the city, incoming president Jennifer Yoon and the Vancouver District Students’ Council (VDSC) team took a key role in the student trustee pilot project advocacy.

      In the VSB, we have student councils in every secondary school as well as a district-wide student council in place. VSB students are extremely fortunate to attend a progressive district in which school trustees are incredibly open to hearing students’ voices. During my year serving as the VDSC president in 2012/13, efforts to bring more students into the board’s consultative processes expanded significantly as part of the VSB’s strategic plan to increase student engagement. Students were invited to attend student forums, participate in committee meetings, and more. If student voice was so prevalent in the VSB, why was it necessary to have student trustees on the board?

      I realized during my time attending numerous student forums and youth leadership discussions, that there was only so much ‘voice’ that students had. Because we didn’t have a formal, institutionalized outlet for our opinions, we were powerless in guiding the direction for our voices. Having that direct representative — a democratically elected student trustee dedicated to representing students’ interests — always present at the board table ensures that students are always heard. In the case of education where students are the main constituents, the addition of student trustees is not just beneficial for students. Supported by the Student Voice Framework as well as years of proven success in Ontario and New Brunswick, student trustees result in enhanced quality and increased efficiency in policy and decision-making. We hear direct feedback from school trustees on the value of having a student at the table to contribute a valuable student perspective to discussions. By design, student trustees allow students to take ownership of their education which results in increased student satisfaction and communication.

      Although the BCSTA motion had failed, the VSB went ahead to implement a student trustee on their board. On 17 June 2013, the VSB unanimously adopted the Student Trustee Pilot Project.

      Shortly after, the Sunshine Coast School District passed a policy to bring aboard a student trustee and district student voice team to their Board of Education.

      Sunshine Coast School District trustees and Maya were instrumental in supporting the advancement of the student trustee position across BC.

      After the BCSTA motion at their 2013 AGM failed and the VSB program passed, we sent a SVI delegation (Chris, Jennifer, and Hirad Zafari) to host a session at the Canadian School Boards Association’s annual congress in BC. We met with hundreds of school trustees and provided the information and education necessary to allow students to be part of the conversation. Our BC Ambassadors (Nick, Maya, and Chansey Chiang) presented a series of workshops at the BCSTA Academy in December. 

      Leading up to the motion this year, we released the Student Trustee Handbook and recorded a live Hangout with Student Trustees to maximize education on the topic alongside various email and social media campaigns. On April 26, we were ecstatic to learn that the motion had passed. It’s a monumental event for BC students because they finally have the support of trustees to obtain a formal outlet and become official stakeholders in education.

      We asked people to share this graphic in support of institutionalized student voice across BC. Overnight (and on a Friday night!), we garnered around 66 shares and 24 retweets of the graphic. We had no access to paid social media ads but we did to an incredible network of willing student leaders.

      What are the next steps? SVI, along with our partners in BC, will be spearheading a leading role to ensure there is necessary student consultation and support in working with the BC government to amend the School Act for student trustees. The journey doesn’t end here and we’ll work with every single school board to ensure students can become partners, not just end-recipients, in education.

      So, thank you students. Thank you school trustees. Thank you to our advisors, BC ambassadors, and especially Team SVI for making this happen. This was a grassroots movement and it could not have been possible without you. There is so much more work to do, and we’re honoured to be playing a role in helping shape the best education system for Canada.

      Written by Leah Bae, Director of Policy & Outreach at Student Voice Initiative.

    • Let's Give British Columbia a Student Voice

      Today, Trustees from across British Columbia will be voting on a motion that, if passed, will have a profoundly positive impact on the education system within the province. The motion will require members of the British Columbia School Trustees Association (BCSTA) to work with the BC government in mandating Student Trustees on every board across BC. By voting for this motion, Trustees will be joining Ontario and New Brunswick, two other provinces that have Student Trustees mandated on every board for a number of years now. 

      Student Trustees are not a new concept. They give students a link to the people who make the policy decisions on their behalf. This is fundamentally important to democracy and civic engagement. Still need convincing? See our Student Trustee Handbook here.

      Now, you have the power to shape education in BC. It doesn’t matter where you are; you can show your support for student involvement in education by SHARING the graphic below on your Facebook timeline and through Twitter. 

      SHARE on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1hwJXmT
      RETWEET on Twitter: http://bit.ly/1imSIla

      Tweet your support using #BCSTA and #stuvoiceBC

      We’ll be tweeting and posting about the motion all day. Follow us on Twitter.


    • Hangout with Student Trustees

      Did you miss our Hangout with Student Trustees? If so, we have the recorded panel for you right here. Thanks to Leah Bae, Nick Milum, Michael Norris, and Maya Treuheit for sharing your insights on Student Trustees and to Chris Grouchy for moderating the panel. 

      The BC School Trustees Association AGM is in its second day of full swing so make sure you tune into the conversation online with #BCSTA. We hope you’ll add your voice of support using #stuvoiceBC on Twitter. The motion to implement Student Trustees will be presented around 9:00am Pacific Time tomorrow. Read into Motion 18 here.

    • Hangout with Student Trustees

      Our Hangout with Student Trustees is tonight! At 8pm Pacific Time, past and present Student Trustees will chat in a panel to discuss why we need students to be part of the education policymaking process in Canada. 

      Some of the topics being addressed include:

      • What a Student Trustee does in his/her role
      • Benefits and challenges of being a Student Trustee
      • Examples of when the Student Trustee position helped district students amplify their voice
      • How the movement for Student Trustees has expanded across Canada

      You can catch the live panel here. If you can’t make it for the livestream, no worries  just tune in through Twitter using #stuvoiceBC. The video will also be posted right here on our blog afterwards.

      Hope to see you soon!

    • photo from Tumblr

      We’re hosting a Hangout with Student Trustees! Join us on Wednesday, April 23 at 8pm Pacific Time as past and present Student Trustees discuss their roles, share their stories, and answer your questions. This will be a live panel event so be sure to engage online using #stuvoiceBC

      Tune in HERE: http://bit.ly/1fmA6vO

      Leah Bae — Director of Policy & Outreach, Student Voice Initiative
      Nick Milum — Student Trustee, Vancouver School Board
      Michael Norris — President, Ontario Student Trustees’ Association
      Maya Treuheit — Student Trustee, Sunshine Coast School District

      Chris Grouchy — Executive Director, Student Voice Initiative

    • photo from Tumblr

      It’s a big week ahead for BC students.

      This Saturday, the BC School Trustees Association will be debating whether or not to add Student Trustees to school boards across the province. See Motion 18 for yourself here: http://bit.ly/1fib0y8 

Read more on our blog!

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