A Knightly Endeavour

Meet Januel Ibasco, member of ECF’s Young Edmonton Grants Committee

Speaking with Januel Ibasco, you’d never guess the well-spoken 21-year-old is a bit on the shy side. He’s played team sports most of his life — particularly hockey, golf, basketball, and volleyball — and is studying sport and recreational management at the University of Alberta.

He’s also a committed volunteer, lending his time and talents to organizations he believes in. This includes writing a column for the Alberta Filipino Journal about cultural events in the Filipino community and doing charitable acts through the Knights of Columbus (an international Catholic organization with a local chapter).

“Growing up, my parents were always giving back to the community and that influenced me,” Ibasco says. But he insists that volunteering isn’t entirely altruistic: “It’s selfish in the sense that by helping others, I help myself.” Volunteering has helped Ibasco become a more positive person, improve his communication skills, and gain confidence.

In 2019, he gained another volunteer opportunity, this time as a committee member with ECF’s Young Edmonton Grants program, where he’d applied at the suggestion of a family friend who knew how passionate he was about youth leadership. Since then, Ibasco has been one of 12 committee members, aged 13-24, charged with reviewing applications submitted by youth in the same age range.

The committee funds youth-led projects (endorsed by partner charities) that have elements of leadership, like a recent soccer program created for and by immigrant youth in Edmonton — one of Ibasco’s favourites. Another project he was particularly proud to support involved sharing the stories of marginalized youth, including those with LGBTQ and BIPOC identities, via oral storytelling and the creation of a book. “I liked it because it focused on the diversity of Edmonton,” he says.

Not every project is funded, of course, but the committee tries to make the experience positive for all applicants. Ibasco enjoys helping youth learn how to improve their applications for the next time around. “Oftentimes, we decline a grant and give feedback, and they apply again and end up getting funding,” he says.

He has plenty of advice for prospective applicants hoping to nail their application the first time. “Make sure to read the application properly and answer the questions we’re asking for,” he says. He also recommends including as much detail as possible. Be clear on how you’ll use funds and take time to explain how your project relates to some aspect of youth leadership.

But perhaps his biggest piece of advice is the simplest: Don’t hesitate to apply. Over the last year-and-a-half, the committee has seen a decrease in the number of applications they receive. “We’re not using all of the funding we’re given, so there’s money just sitting there that could go to projects to help people in the community,” he says. “I’d like to see more applications from across the city and the Greater Edmonton area.”