New Initiative “Changes Up” YP Charity Involvement

We young people are doing a lot of good. So much good, in fact, that some of our country’s cities have become almost over-saturated with young professional-run and operated charitable initiatives and causes. Although most YPs, of course, want to support their peers and important causes, most of us would go broke of we committed to every charity event invite that lands in our inbox. Enter the ChangeUp Campaign, a project started by the newly formed young professional division of the Toronto Blue Jays’ Jays Care Foundation – a charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays that supports high risk and ill youth.

On Monday, the ChangeUp campaign was launched. It’s a peer-to-peer fundraising initiative that ventures out of the typical, giving participants leeway to participate in fun, creative and challenging ways of their choice. The initiative asks participants to change something in their lives or in their workforce. This can be anything from changing their hair or quitting smoking to organizing a team cleanup of a local green space. 

The funds raised will go directly to refurbishing a park in Toronto’s underserviced Felmingdon community, which has seen better days. The initiative would, among other things, provide an upgraded baseball diamond to positively engage the community’s youth. 

The conclusion of the campaign will be celebrated on Tuesday, September 10, 2013, with the YPC signature event, The ChangeUp Celebration at Rogers Centre. The party will serve as a thank you and celebration of the success of the campaign, along with an opportunity to take in an exciting baseball game as our Jays (hopefully) continue their hot streak when they take on the Angels at 7pm. Held in the newly remodeled Summit Suites at the Rogers Centre, the only thing typical about this charity event will be the open bar, food and no shortage of connected YPs. The top 30 fundraisers who raise over $750 will each get two tickets to the YPC ChangeUp Celebration ($300 value), and the top five fundraising teams who raise over $4,000 will each receive 10 tickets ($1,500 value). 

The goal of the overall campaign is to raise $50,000, and you can find out how you can get involved now on their website. We caught up with Daniel Sultan and Michael Grossman of the Jays Care Foundation Young Professional Committee, who offered a little more insight on their initiative. 

What separates the ChangeUp campaign from other young professional charitable initiatives?
We are asking our committee and supporters to actually get involved in helping the charity raise funds and awareness. It’s done not only by raising money, but also by getting involved in community work. Most charities that cater to young professionals tend to simply put on red carpet or black tie events that, although they raise money, don’t push the need of those individuals to actually give their time to make a difference in their communities. It’s easy to write a cheque, but with the Jays Care Foundation, we promote getting our members’ hands dirty for a worthy cause. At the same time, it’s all about having fun…baseball is fun and we believe the ChangeUp campaign was our way of coming up with an initiative that would appeal to our demographic. 

We also have a specific project that the money we are raising is going to. The money raised during the ChangeUp campaign will be directed to refurbish a community green space in the Flemingdon Park neighbourhood. This underserviced area of the community will, with the money raised, now a have state-of-the-art park to play baseball in and take advantage of other community services that a new green space can provide. Not to take anything away from other YP-run charities, but a lot of the time the money raised kind of goes into a black hole somewhere in some organization’s general budget. Here, the money raised will go directly to a project that our contributors and partners can see, touch, and feel. We feel that is a distinction that really separates us from what else is out there.

Daniel Sultan

What are some fun and creative ideas for ChangeUp campaigns?
I really like what our office is doing, for example. I work for a construction firm and we don’t exactly have the most traditional “corporate environment” around here, if you know what I mean. A lot of our guys are, shall we say, rough around the edges. Language can often become quite coloured throughout the course of the day and temper tantrums are not uncommon. So we decided to call our ChangeUp “Urbacon’s F’n ChangeUp.” During the campaign, we are setting up swear jars around the office and our construction sites. So, swearing and temper tantrums are going to cost you! We also are setting up a system where you can buy yourself a free swearing pass for the day. We plan on sending the link to our ChangeUp out to our subtrades to sponsor us. With the amount of swearing that goes on around here and on our sites, combined with our sponsorships, we will probably make a killing. And potentially go broke in the process.?..

As far as other creative ideas go, our website has a list of ChangeUp ideas that we think are great too. One out-of-the-box idea for an individual that I liked was to become a maid for your friend’s house for a day. Whoever sponsors the most money will get the ChangeUp participant to be his maid. Another sort of funny one is that we have a guy on our committee who runs a BBQ joint downtown called LouDawgs. He is thinking of becoming a vegetarian for six weeks. Considering how much he loves BBQ, I thought that was hysterical. I can see his patrons really getting behind that one.

Michael Grossman

What can we expect from September’s party?
This is not going to be your run-of-the-mill, everyday young professional party that we have become accustomed to around the city. For one, you will get direct access and interaction with Blue Jays alumni, access to exclusive Blue Jay prizes, giveaways, merchandise, on field experiences, and memorabilia. We are also hosting this party in the newly renovated Summit Suite at the Rogers Centre during a game in what hopes to be at a time (Sept. 10) that the Jays are in the heart of a run for the playoffs. Between the open bar, food, in-game experiences, and giveaways, we expect the vibe in the Suite to be full tilt! I am most looking forward to the excitement that is going to be in that room. Between our committee, who has worked so hard to launch and run the campaign, the participants, who spent six weeks doing their ChangeUps and raising so much money, and all the things we have planned to go on during the party, it is going to be an amazing place to be where a real sense of accomplishment and achievement is going to be palpable in the air. Not to take anything away from some of the other YP charity events in the city, but I think the feeling of accomplishment that will be felt in the room that night gives this party a sense of sincerity and authenticity that can sometimes be lost in the pomp and circumstance of some of the other events we have come to see pop up around town.

– Michael Grossman

Blue Jays fans across Canada can join the #ChangeUp in support of Jays Care. Visit them online and follow @jcfyoungpros for all the details on how to get started! The campaign kicked off on Monday and ends on July 31st, 2013.