Open Up

Open Up is Youthful Cities’ Open Data Literacy + Activation Program that builds open data capacity in the youth-serving sector by empowering organizations and their changemakers with tools to activate open data in order to enhance their organization’s impact.

What is Open Up?

Open Up is Youthful Cities’ Open Data Literacy + Activation Program that builds open data capacity in the youth-serving sector by empowering organizations and their changemakers with tools to activate open data in order to enhance their organization’s impact.

Open data is an expansive and growing resource that can be utilized to inform better decision-making, policy-building, and programming. The problem is that it is often not very accessible.

In 2022, over the course of 10 weeks 10 organizations throughout Canada embarked together on an open data journey to learn how to find, utilize, and tell meaningful stories with data to better support the young people they serve.

The Open Up program is highly adaptable and can be customized to fit the needs of your organization. If your organization would benefit from open data training, get in touch with us.

Open Up logo
Did you know 100% of program participants said they would use open data in their future work?
“This introduction to open data has been instrumental to helping build our impact narrative and will be used for many more information products.”

– Open Up participant


Through the 10-week program, all participants were able to increase their skills in these 3 key areas, while additionally learning the tools to better understand and integrate open data into their daily operations. When asked about the main challenges in integrating open data into their work, one organization responded: “The technical know-how to process and aggregate data, and finally the visualization and telling the story. These are all skills that we can benefit from acquiring across the team.”

Finding open data
Data storytelling
Data visualization

Open Up History

Open Up was launched in partnership with RBC Future Launch in the summer of 2021. The program has since trained 2 cohorts made up of 17 youth-serving organizations, including non profits, social enterprises, and volunteer-run start-ups, across Canada.

Open up history timeline

Past Participants

Canadian Federation of Students logo
the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund logo
Duke of Edinburgh's international award logo
Youth Empowering Parents logo
BAM logo
Jumpstart Refugee Talent logo
Tamarack Institute logo
npower canada logo
Prince's Trust Canada logo
Young Canadians Roundtable on Health logo
Global Shapers Community Vancouver logo
Pathways to Education logo
YMCA of Greater Vancouver logo
Skills Canada logo logo
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada logo

Program Reach

Participant organizations varied in reach including national, regional, and municipal. Their work addresses many important issues in Canada, including empowering youth and underserved communities through art, community engagement, skill-building and employment opportunities, creating a path towards reconciliation, and ensuring young people are heard when it comes to their health. Open Up is conducted entirely virtually, which allows for any participant to join in, wherever they’re at, and increases flexibility to suit the varied schedules of busy social-serving organizations.

Networking Sessions

Listening to the feedback from our first cohort, we introduced four optional networking sessions throughout the 10-week program to foster dialogue, community and collaboration with the new group of participants.

Networking session statistics

Community Growth

Through Open Up, we encourage organizations to find intersections within their work and prompt innovative collaboration beyond the program. A key to the open data ecosystem is a connected community of people, who are interested and aware of the great potential of open data. By continuing to create spaces for meaningful collaboration, Open Up showcases great potential to build a supportive, open data community across the sector.

“Cross-collaboration promotes innovation, and I honestly believe that we can benefit from collaborations and community efforts.”

– Open Up participant

Next Steps

After two successful runs of Open Up, there is proof of how organizations can leverage external open data to underscore the importance of their work, develop their programming in response to what the data is saying, and more!
Looking towards the future of Open up, we plan to:

  • Expand programming to include single-session workshops for organizations.
  • Integrate course materials into an online learning platform.
  • Identify and develop software partnerships.
  • Strengthen the Open Up community through more networking sessions with all past and current participants.
  • Run collaborative events or brainstorm sessions with organizations.
  • Create open data solutions for organizations that need quick assistance or who lack the capacity to do the training.

Participant Projects

These are snapshots of the data products participants created after completing the Open Up program. More can be found in the official PDF report.

Slide that says Black youth make 25% less than their non-minority counterparts

Prince’s Trust

Duke of Edinburgh

What Participants Say

“As someone who came in with very minimal experience using data in any capacity it was nice to see how prepared you were to teach me and others who might have been in the same boat, how to use data and how easy it could be.” –Skills Canada Corporation

“It was a very positive learning experience. I was challenged and taken beyond my comfort zone, yet felt supported throughout the course.” – Jack.Org

“The workshop on storytelling and the idea of making knowledge more accessible, especially if I’m working with communities creating infographics and presenting data in accessible ways is going to be very important in my future work” – York University – The Jean Augustine Canadian Youth Initiatives & Data Hub

“… the skills learned in this course along with the multiple databases shared will be critical tools for the Award in establishing further impact insights in support of our future program growth.”The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award