Co-op students bring new ideas, perspectives and knowledge to the workplace. However, despite the growing number of students interested in exploring careers in the non-profit sector, many charities can’t afford to take advantage of their talents.

Waterloo donors are helping to bridge this gap, creating a win-win-win situation that benefits students, non-profits and the communities they serve. Through their support of a number of initiatives across our campus community, donors provide funding for work terms at non-profits or community organizations. These initiatives range from the Co-op for Community program — made possible by gifts to the Co-op and Experiential Education Fund — to Faculty-based programs such as Environment’s Global Citizen Internships.

Alumnus John Hamilton (BA ’73) made a generous $50,000 gift to kick-start Co-op for Social Good. The founder of a successful financial services firm, he hopes the chance to work with non-profits will give Arts students similar advantages to the ones he enjoyed as a student.

“I came from a dairy farm and I led a pretty sheltered life. Studying at Waterloo was an opportunity to grow up and see the world, and I was a different person when I left university. Perhaps when these students graduate, they might join these organizations full-time or start something new,” he says.

Jessica ManarangCo-op for Social Good is based on the model spearheaded at Waterloo by the Menich Family, which has helped United Way Waterloo Region Communities hire more than 40 co-op students since 2004. Honours Arts and Business student Jessica Manarang is one of those students.

“Originally, I struggled to see how community engagement could translate into a viable career path,” she says. “This experience allowed me to explore a sector that complements my studies, honours my passions and equips me with a variety of transferable skills.”

Having a co-op student creates opportunities, diverse ideas and opinions, a fresh approach to our challenges and to achieving our mission.

WENDI CAMPBELL  (BA ’93), CEO, Food Bank of Waterloo Region

Through their support of programs like Co-op for Social Good, Waterloo donors are providing students like Jessica with opportunities to contribute to their communities, as well as for employment and personal development. Together, these donors, students and organizations are building a better world.