HeartWood Centre for Community Youth Development is a nationally recognized leader in the field of community youth development. Since 1988, HeartWood draws on years of experiences in youth development, organizational development, and community youth development research.




We believe that young people possess the passion, skills and insight to be powerful community leaders.


We work directly with youth, adults, youth-serving organizations and broader systems to build better communities through youth engagement and leadership.

  • Youth
  • Community Organizations
  • Youth-Serving Organizations
  • Government Agencies
  • Groups or Systems prepared to embrace Community Youth Development

HeartWood’s values were developed through practice, and then articulated in consultation with staff, Associates, and youth interns. These values describe how we do our work. This is often referred to as “The HeartWood Way”, i.e. what makes our work and approach unique.

HeartWood Centre for Community Youth Development is a values-driven organization that strives to create transformational experiences. We practice our work with the following values:

  • Youth-Centered – We believe that all youth are valuable and can make a contribution today, and we strive to include young people in what we do.
  • Inclusion and Diversity – We believe that diversity is important and we include, welcome and respect diverse backgrounds, needs, and abilities.
  • Appreciative Approach – We use a strength-based approach that honors and builds upon the skills, talents and resources that individuals and communities have.
  • Safe and Supportive – We provide safe and supportive spaces, places and programs where everyone can take risks (physically and emotionally) and try new things.
  • Learning by Doing (i.e. experiential learning) – We provide opportunities for participants to practice and reflect on what they are learning. We also provide these opportunities for ourselves so that we continually learn, innovate, and improve.
  • Meaningful Contribution – We support participants in making a meaningful contribution to others and their communities.
  • Relationships and Partnerships – We strive to create healthy, respectful connections with and between others, particularly between youth and adults. We believe in the power of youth and adults working together to create positive change in each other and to make a difference in their communities.
  • Strong Environmental Ethic – We model and support respect for the natural environment and provide as many opportunities as possible to experience the natural world.