30 Under 30: Anjali Dhaliwal helps high schoolers prep for the future

The Surrey native, who is a Cansbridge fellow, launched Youth Helping Youth to make sure that privilege didn't stop young people from accessing career planning services.

Anjali Dhaliwal, 20

Founder + executive director, Youth Helping Youth

Life Story: The Cansbridge Fellowship offers $6,000 and a summer internship in Asia to undergrad students from all over Canada. Only 0.5 percent of applicants get in, representing the brightest young leaders in the country. Anjali Dhaliwal is currently one of them. 

Born and raised in Surrey, Dhaliwal claims to have always been obsessed with the brain. For as long as she can remember, she wanted to be a neurosurgeon. But while being a doctor is a great career, one night school class completely upended Dhaliwal’s plans: “It made me realize that I want to go into business and not neurosciences,” she says. “I realized how many high school students there are in the world that don’t know what they want to do and don’t know what’s out there for them.”

The entrepreneur launched her first business at 16 years old, four months before founding her nonprofit. It was an organic lip balm with recyclable packaging that made it into salons and garnered a few hundred in sales, but it also made Dhaliwal realize that the space she wanted to make the most impact in was youth and education. So, she launched the nonprofit Youth Helping Youth in 2019 to help high school students discover what they want to do with their futures.

Dhaliwal was heavily influenced by her parents to make giving back a priority in life. She’s been donating food and clothes since she was a child, and has also volunteered for various nonprofit organizations. Her ambitions brought her to the Cansbridge Fellowship today, and also got her a full ride at SFU to study business with a minor in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Bottom Line: With 200 volunteers on board and $70,000 in government grants, Youth Helping Youth has seven chapters across North America. Each one is responsible for connecting youth with opportunities through social media, in-person events, websites, newsletters and podcasts. Dhaliwal particularly wanted to make sure that privilege didn’t stop young people from accessing essential workshops, conferences and programs: “I think the best people to give advice to young people are other young people.”