FREDERICTON (GNB) – 21 inc, a youth leadership organization from New Brunswick, is expanding its 21 Leaders program across Atlantic Canada thanks to support from the federal government and from the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia governments.

The program provides new and emerging leaders with a training experience designed to give them the tools, networks and confidence necessary to make a significant impact in their careers and communities.

This year the program is being expanded into Nova Scotia. Forty-two participants from the two provinces have been selected to participate. Plans are underway to introduce the program in Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador in 2013.

“Investing in the development of a new generation of leaders is a key part of our government's plan to rebuild New Brunswick,” said Premier David Alward. “We are pleased to be working with 21 inc to engage young people, develop youth leadership skills, and gain a better understanding of the leadership opportunities available in New Brunswick.”

The 21 Leaders program is a part-time, 10-month leadership and entrepreneurship skills building initiative. Participants ranging in age from  20 to 35 and have been selected for their proven or potential leadership skills. Throughout the program, participants will meet with and learn from provincial and national leaders, design and implement community service projects and new business ventures, and join a network of young leaders dedicated to finding solutions to the region's demographic, economic and social challenges.

“The future prosperity of our region depends on ensuring that our dynamic business leaders of tomorrow have the skills and opportunities they need to contribute, innovate and succeed,” said Bernard Valcourt, associate minister of national defence and minister of state for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and La Francophonie. “Our government is pleased to support organizations like 21 inc in helping to develop and foster young leaders and entrepreneurs, so they are better able to create jobs, growth and prosperity in Atlantic Canadian communities.”

The program grew out of the University of New Brunswick's Next NB/Avenir NB, a 2005 public policy initiative that developed a program for a group of 21 young leaders interested in exploring the future of the province. The organization was founded by the Next NB/Avenir NB alumni in 2007.

“We are thrilled to be taking this transformative experience to emerging leaders across Atlantic Canada,” said Sara Ehrhardt, executive director of 21 inc. “We are grateful to our public and private sector partners, and to all those who have taken the time to nominate individuals for 21 Leaders and are helping make this experience happen.”

The federal government, through ACOA, is contributing $95,000 to the project under the Business Development Program, and the Economic Development Initiative under the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality 2008-2013. The New Brunswick government is investing $50,000 this year to support activities in the province. The Nova Scotia government is investing $40,000 to pilot the program in Nova Scotia this year.

Information on the 42 participants selected this year is available online.