Student leaders, teachers recognized as changemakers with Awards of Distinction - United Way Alberta Capital Region

Student leaders, teachers recognized as changemakers with Awards of Distinction

April 4, 2023

Fausto Franceschi (center left), Managing Partner of Dentons, presented the Make your Mark awards to teachers from Father Leo Green, Johnny Bright, and Austin O'Brien schools. Photo by Nancy Critchley Photography for United Way of the Alberta Capital Region

This year, three innovative Make your Mark projects supporting veterans, vulnerable 2SLGBTQ+ youth, and houseless community members were celebrated at Red Tie Gala.

Students across the Alberta Capital Region are making a big difference through United Way’s youth leadership program Make your Mark.

Presented by Dentons, Make your Mark is a one-of-a-kind program that fosters leadership skills in students from Kindergarten through Grade 12 as they create and deliver projects to support people in need in the Edmonton region.

United Way provides guidance and funding for these student-led initiatives developed through Make Your Mark, while also supporting teachers as they educate students on poverty, the role of non-profits, and students’ agency as the next generation of changemakers.

“At Dentons, we believe Make your Mark not only teaches our children the significance of giving back, but also empowers, inspires, and encourages the next generation of philanthropic leaders in our community. Getting to see the incredible work these students do is one of the highlights of my year,” shares Fausto Franceschi, Managing Partner of Dentons’ Edmonton office and a champion of Make your Mark since its inception in 2016.

In 2022, 18 schools participated in Make your Mark, and more than 800 students took part in projects in one way or another. They’re all winners in our hearts, but at Red Tie Gala on March 16, three local schools were received the Make your Mark award, recognizing their innovation and leadership.

Father Leo Green: “Just Doing What We Can”



Father Leo Green’s Grade 5 and 6 students worked with kindergarten students to collect winter coats and stuff pillowcases with items for the houseless community.

Their theme of “Just Doing What We Can” empowered students to bring hope and love to others and let them know they are cared about.

Community partners were super impressed with the students’ excitement.

Johnny Bright School: The Rainbow Care Project


Johnny Bright’s junior high students created The Rainbow Care Project and assembled care packages for underprivileged 2SLGBTQ+ youth.

The students learned about the unique challenges these youth face, which allowed them to carefully choose the most needed items to best support this group.

The experience enhanced students’ planning and problem-solving skills while increasing their confidence to speak up to help others.

Austin O’Brien High School: Veteran’s Food Bank


Students at Austin O’Brien High School were inspired to bring Christmas cheer to clients of the Veterans Association Food Bank with some stuffed stockings.

Students with mild to moderate exceptionalities learned that they could make a positive impact in their community despite their disabilities.

Students grew their understanding of empathy; shared meaningful experiences with food bank staff, volunteers, veterans; and changed their perspective of themselves as leaders.

Make your Mark

Are you a teacher interested in getting involved in Make your Mark? Sign up to be notified when applications open this spring.

Learn More About Make your Mark