5 ways Make your Mark empowers kids as they head back to class - United Way Alberta Capital Region

5 ways Make your Mark empowers kids as they head back to class

August 15, 2023


Make your Mark equips students with the skills, knowledge, and empathy necessary to make a difference in their classrooms, communities, and the world.

As the back-to-school season approaches, United Way of the Alberta Capital Region’s Make your Mark program is gearing up to empower a new class of changemakers.

Presented by Dentons, Make your Mark helps teachers enhance learning experiences for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 through community-building projects. With guidance and support from United Way and funding of up to $1,000 per project, students are empowered to initiate projects that build strong and vibrant communities while developing their own academic and social skills.

Let’s explore five ways the Make your Mark program positively impacts kids’ educational journeys, just in time for the new school year.

Testimonials have been anonymously sourced from project reports and teacher surveys.

Cultivating Empathy

In an increasingly interconnected world, empathy is a crucial skill for children and youth to develop. The Make your Mark curriculum and teaching resources provide the foundation for discussions around the often complex issues facing our community, and how student-led community service projects can foster empathy.

“To be honest, this continues to be my favorite moment of teaching each and every year. It is just such an incredible opportunity and it is the epitome of kindness and supporting those around us which is what we all strive to instill in our students.” – MYM Teacher

By encouraging understanding and compassion for others’ experiences, the program helps students build strong interpersonal skills and contribute to a more caring society.


Promoting Equity and Inclusion

Make your Mark actively promotes equity and inclusion by creating a classroom environment where all students feel valued and respected. Through discussions on diversity, discrimination, and social justice, the program encourages students to challenge systemic barriers.

“Learning that Indigenous peoples are over-represented in the homeless population and hearing [personal] stories, students saw that living in poverty is often a consequence of intergenerational trauma and of colonialism. Part of the work we do in schools to promote reconciliation is learning about the consequences of residential schools, fragmentation of family units, inequity, and racism.” – MYM Teacher

Through United Way’s social sector network, Make your Mark project teams are able to build connections with local agencies and support initiatives that ensure equal access to resources and opportunities. This relationship-building exercise empowers students to advocate for equity and inclusion in their community.

Fostering Community-Building

The start of a new school year is an ideal time to foster community-building among students. Make your Mark brings together schools and local organizations, providing opportunities for students to collaborate on community projects and showcase their efforts to the public.

“The connection to Global News and other agencies made our Make your Mark project a wonderful life experience for the students. School is about building citizenship and this program really supports that concept!” – MYM Teacher

And, by engaging students in initiatives that make a positive impact in their neighborhoods, the program helps develop teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Developing Project Planning and Management Skills

The new school year often brings with it opportunities for students to engage in group projects and initiatives. Make your Mark equips students with project planning and management skills that are essential for lifelong success.

“I observed a tremendous amount of growth in students’ planning and problem-solving skills. For example, students involved with budgeting were constantly re-evaluating what we were purchasing as costs rose and fell, and they took steps to make sure the money was being spent wisely and most effectively. … All in all, I was very impressed with the amount of leadership these students were able to show, and how quickly and efficiently they got the job done.” – MYM Teacher

Through hands-on activities, students learn to set goals, develop action plans, and execute projects effectively. These skills not only benefit academic endeavours but also prepare students for future professional pursuits.


Nurturing Leadership Qualities

Back-to-school season is an opportune time to nurture leadership qualities in students. As Make your Mark projects are led by students, participating kids are given the opportunities to help them realize their leadership potential.

“This opportunity has been amazing! The support given, the great ideas, and the connection with community was huge for us… This project has inspired the students well beyond this project! We had kids take chances to try something new, we had new friendships formed, and we helped change the overall culture of the school.”
– MYM Teacher

By empowering students to take initiative, inspire others, and make a positive impact, the program prepares them to become changemakers in their schools, communities, and beyond.



As students prepare to embark on a new academic year, Make your Mark is set to equip educators with valuable tools and resources to help them support the personal and academic growth of the next generation of philanthropic leaders and global citizens. By focusing on empathy, equity, community-building, project planning and management, and leadership, Make your Mark is poised to make an even greater impact on students’ learning experiences this school year.

Register your class for Make your Mark

Make your Mark is accepting teacher registrations for the 2023-24 school year until September 29, 2023. Learn more about how you can get involved.

Make your Mark