Who & What is Sky’s The Limit Youth Organization?
Lara Tavares is the Founder and CEO of Sky’s the Limit Youth Organization (http://www.stlonline.org), a nonprofit organization she founded in January 2004.STL raises funds to purchase refurbished computers for under-resourced students who could not otherwise afford them. STL has placed over 1025 computers to date! Recipients are chosen from, and participate in a partner organization’s program such as Pathways to Education, Youth In Motion, StepStones for Youth, etc., where they are provided with support through an orientation or training program that ensures that the students become familiar with how to use a computer and the Internet. Recipients may also be referred by teachers, guidance counselors or they can apply for a computer online independently.Core value – Sky’s the Limit provides services to all under-resourced youth regardless of race, gender, religious belief or sexual orientation…“Everybody’s kids or nobody’s kids”.STL also provides environmental benefits by ensuring that computer systems are reused and recycled thus reducing the technological waste-stream (landfills).STL’s main objectives:1. Raise funds to purchase refurbished computers.2. Provide refurbished computers to students from under-resourced communities.3. Establish a mentoring and tutoring program to get the students up and running. 4. Facilitate access to online resources, creating an awareness of the many learning opportunities available to students. 5. Improve the students’ overall computer skills while developing their essential workplace skills.6. Reduce waste and recycle technology by diverting used computers from landfill sites.7. Offer a solution to the digital divide in Canada. The organization relies on donated funds to purchase the computers. Donations are solicited from various sources. The refurbished computers are purchased from non-profit suppliers.
How did you get started?
Lara grew up in Kanata, Ontario where her father worked for Digital Equipment Corporation, giving her the opportunity to have access to a computer at a young age. She had the early realization that a computer is a valuable resource and can offer many opportunities. She earned a degree in Design Art, Computer Graphics, from Concordia University in Montreal and then went on to a successful decade-long year career in graphic design, web development and information architecture. During this time she worked for Bell Canada, The Ontario Ministry of Labour and the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, among others. These career pursuits gave Lara on-the-job experience on how to run a successful nonprofit organization.Lara founded STL to address a vital need and considers this mission to be her life-long passion and undertaking. Lara is responsible for STL operations, implementation, outreach, administration, sourcing donors, fundraising, implementation, promotion, etc. She has committed 100% of her time and energy to the cause and built a team of dedicated and reliable ambassadors and volunteers. Lara feels passionately about the value of computers and the technology industry and is deeply affected by the fact that many young Canadians do not have a computer and access to technology. Through STL, Lara is able to provide access to computers to kids who wouldn’t otherwise get it. Lara built a career in the private and non-profit sector prior to starting STL which was a great opportunity to learn and cultivate best practices in order to obtain the time, money, contacts, resources, drive, and skills to make an impact within her community. Is this a non-profit?Yes! Sky’s the Limit (STL) is a registered Canadian charity located in Toronto, Ontario (BN 85757 9742RR0001). STL is incorporated with the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Services (Ontario Corporation Number 1608093).
Are there paid position within the organization?
Yes! STL employs one full-time Project Coordinator and one Part-time Project Assistant who is a former STL computer recipient.
Any success stories with the beneficiaries?
Two years ago, STL donated a computer to Dane, a young man in the Regent Park area who had recently lost his older brother to violence (he was gunned down while leaving a pick-up basketball game). Dane was distraught and used music as one of the ways to express his feelings and mourn his devastating loss. STL provided Dane with a special computer that was outfitted with upgraded hardware and software that could accommodate music engineering software. Lara called several of her contacts in the Toronto music industry and asked them to donate software and their time to Dane. Dane went on to further his musical ambitions with a group he created.
What advice do you have to those who wish to donate their time and energy to a cause?
Volunteers contribute to the success of our unique initiative by donating their energy, skills and time. We would not be able to achieve our goals without them. Not only does volunteering help keep your spirits up, it also helps you to build relationships, discover new skill sets, and interact with like-minded individuals. If you are uncertain about the kind of work you want to do or think you may be successful at, volunteering can help you narrow your focus. Organizations will often work with you to find something for you to do that you will find both interesting and rewarding.