Nicole Edwards Leadership Fund

Thank you so much for your interest in the Nicole Edwards Leadership Fund.

Applications are now OPEN for the 2024-2025 period!

Everything we do at BYTE is about creating spaces for Northern youth to lead. We want youth to have the strengths and skills they need to lead happy, healthy and meaningful lives and to be heard in their communities. With this goal in mind, we launched the BYTE Leadership Fund to celebrate our 20th Anniversary in 2018.

In 2021 we changed the name of our Leadership Fund to Nicole Edwards Leadership Fund. This change commemorates the legacy of our founder Nicole Edwards by directly supporting Yukon youth to explore their passions, learn new skills and become leaders in their own way.

Since the launch of this fund in 2018 and thanks to generous donations every year, we have funded $49,380 in experiences and opportunities for Northern youth.

This year, a maximum of $12,500 will be awarded prior to March 31st, 2025!

The Nicole Edwards Leadership Fund is funded and administered by BYTE – Empowering Youth Society. Applications are reviewed by a committee and are assessed based on eligibility, merit and an ability to meet fund criteria.

The Nicole Edwards Leadership Fund is available for youth who need support attending or participating in any opportunity they think will build their leadership skills and contribute to community . The fund aims to connect young people 25 and under with experiences and resources to help develop their passions, gifts and identity.


Applicants may be any of the following:
● Young people 25 and under who have their main residence and live at least 10 months a year in
areas currently served by BYTE (for 2024-2025 that is the Yukon, Mackenzie Delta Region, NWT;
and Atlin, BC)
● While we welcome all applicants, given the context in which BYTE works, preference will be given
to applicants from rural communities and/or Indigenous and marginalized youth.


    Applicants can apply for a maximum of $1,500 per year (April 1 – March 31). 

    Funds are distributed on a first come, first serve basis up to a maximum of $12,500 for the year. Applications are reviewed once a month by the committee, if your opportunity is time sensitive, please do not hesitate to reach out to or 867.667.7975.


    • Transportation
    • Accommodation
    • Per Diems ($85/day/person or $20 for breakfast, $30 for lunch and $35 for dinner)
      *Per diem rate only available when food not available through event or conference
    • Course and/or conference registration fees, membership fees
    • Materials and equipment needed to participate (such as camping equipment, laptop, camera, school supplies, and other eligible materials at the discretion of the fund committee)

    Where possible all expenses will be paid and purchased directly by BYTE or must be confirmed through copies of actual paid receipts. Please note that 10% of the amount awarded will be held back and paid upon receiving your final report.


    Read our funding guidelines thoroughly and be sure to contact the Executive Director at BYTE to discuss any questions you may have. We can also assist with filling out the application if necessary.

    Please submit the following:
    A completed application form including cost breakdown.

    Our Selection Committee will review applications monthly and will inform successful applicants as soon as possible.

    Please contact BYTE at or (867) 667-7975 to discuss your application with someone prior to submitting!

    Would you like to help make a difference?

     Thank you in advance for any contribution, your generosity helps strengthen our organization and helps us reach more youth. Both one-time and repeat donors help keep our organization running.

    Every cent counts, so even the smallest contributions are hugely appreciated! 

    Nicole Edwards

    Nicole Edwards (September 14, 1970 – September 8, 2021)

    Nicole lived a life of open-hearted positivity, seeing the beauty and humanity in each person she met. She sought to listen without judgement and gave you her full and focused attention. Nicole was able to make a person of any age, ability or background feel important and heard.

    Raised in South River, Ontario, by a group of strong women with her mother at the core, Nicole discovered early that art and community flourished together; by the time she was a teenager, she was an organizer as well as a performer. As a teen and young adult she traveled extensively, undertaking cultural exchanges and volunteer work across Canada and beyond. She learned to speak multiple languages, always seeking to connect and learn with and from whomever she met along the way.

    After university Nicole returned home and wrote her first successful grant and hired 10 youth to do youth-led, creative community development projects in local history and performing arts. Right from the start she was invested in inclusivity and amplifying youth voices within rural communities, bringing together diverse groups to create space for youth.

    Nicole moved to the Yukon in 1997 where she quickly got involved in youth advocacy. Here, she founded B.Y.T.E (then Bringing Youth Towards Equality, now BYTE – Empowering Youth Society) and inspired a generation of Yukon youth to ‘Be the change’ – work that would earn her a Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General. BYTE filled a much-needed gap at the time.

    The first mission statement was:
    “Yukon youth unite to strengthen youth voice, take action and break about positive change for the well being of everyone.”

    Nicole also was an accomplished musician and a founding member of Yukon Women in Music. The release of her first original album in 2001 coincided with a diagnosis of scleroderma, an auto-immune disease. In 2003, her symptoms forced her to leave the youth work she loved. Whenever possible, she continued to mentor youth, including in performance, song-writing, and music industry. She facilitated worships for youth at Youth Plan to Take Over the World youth conferences and for many other groups.

    Throughout her ongoing musical career and multiple albums, she often highlighted youth in her songs and music videos through relevant themes of well-being, relationship, and activism, and she celebrated contributions by Northern youth dancers and vocalists.

    With her husband Lee at her side and much determination, Nicole learned to adapt to chronic fatigue and pain. Her prime vocation remained community service through the arts. She also became an advocate for empathetic, respectful, patient-centred care. Her last album “Yukon Lullaby for Mental Health” is a set of songs and resources on musical mindful strategies, to support us all in whole-self health and emotional well-being through times of trial.

    Nicole passed away on September 8, 2021.

    For those wishing to remember Nicole, please share her music and mindfulness resources that you can find on her website:

    “Nicole inspired me and so many other youth to aspire to greatness. Nicole’s leadership forged a path that instilled values of acceptance of diversity, unity, integrity and compassion. She continues to model these qualities within her life, particularly with her career in music. I am honoured to call her a friend and mentor.”
    – Cherish Clarke, member of BYTE’s peer support network

    “Nicole’s passion and dedication for empowering youth through music has changed my life. Nicole began working with me when I was fourteen. She encouraged me to pursue my creative passions and showed me how to use music as a tool to engage my community. Her work has created countless opportunities for myself and other youth to live positive, healthy, and fulfilled lives. Nicole’s influence has inspired me to become a professional musician and educator, and she continues to make a difference with her music and limitless positivity. She is an architect of the amazing youth music and cultural scene that makes the Yukon truly unique.”
    – Daniel Ashley

    “Nicole was my first employer right out of high school, as she hired a friend and I as part of a team doing rural community arts work. She was *all in* for any innovative youth-led ideas and tried to find resourcing and connections to support our projects. Over the years she continued to be a mentor and friend: she inspired us, encouraged us, and helped us grow in creative arts, children’s programming, youth advocacy work, and so, so much more.
    Nicole was a gifted singer-songwriter and her voice, lyrics, and soul just continue to speak to me — right from her early ‘emerging artist’ songs to her fresh tracks released just before her passing. Her songs are fun and meaningful, sharing everyday joys, deep sorrows, address injustice, and inspire action. After moving to the Yukon, she founded BYTE, another youth non-profit as well as continuing her musical career in her beloved northern community. I wish I could say thank you to the Yukon community who loved her and supported her so!
    Nicole was forced to live with scleroderma, a severe and chronic illness. While scleroderma progressively limited her ability to participate in life, she continued to adapt, sharing her music and creative work, inviting all to love, serve, and uplift each other. As she moved into needing more care, she focused on creating music and resources on mindfulness and mental health for all ages. Nicole radiated empathy and respect and generosity of spirit.”
    – Diana Brushey