Actua Announces National Partnership with Mastercard to Empower Underrepresented Youth in Digital Safety Skills

Press Release

OTTAWA, July 18, 2023

Actua, Canada’s leading organization dedicated to unlocking the potential of youth through science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, is thrilled to announce a national partnership with Mastercard.

This partnership will focus on developing STEM, digital and cyber safety skills among youth populations who are underrepresented in STEM. Mastercard will provide direct support to Actua’s Cyber Smart Education Project and its inclusion and diversity initiatives. These programs are designed to empower youth to navigate the digital world safely and to engage underrepresented youth in evidence-based STEM learning, equipping them with the skills, knowledge and connections necessary for future success. 

“We are excited to join forces with Mastercard to foster Canadian innovation and nurture diverse technology talent,” said Jennifer Flanagan, President and CEO of Actua. 


By harnessing Mastercard's expertise in cybersecurity, we are inspiring Canada’s future scientists, engineers and innovators, empowering them to explore technology safely and responsibly and motivating them to build a safe and secure world.

Jennifer Flanagan, President and CEO, Actua

“At Mastercard, we believe everyone benefits from a secure digital economy. Protection from today’s threats requires diverse voices and perspectives driving tech and cyber innovation, which is why we need to prepare our next generation of talent,” said Sasha Krstic, President of Mastercard in Canada. “Mastercard’s new partnership with Actua will provide the next generation of youth from underrepresented groups with critical STEM skills and opportunities to explore exciting future careers in technology and cybersecurity.”

Mastercard’s support will contribute to the following programs:

  • Actua’s Cyber Smart (Engage. Empower. Connect) Education Project equips youth with the knowledge, skills and resources needed to navigate the digital world safely and responsibly. This project aims to build positive digital engagement and empower youth to become proactive digital citizens. With Mastercard’s investment, Actua can further enhance the Cyber Smart learning content, scale the program nationally and empower diverse youth populations with the skills and confidence to shape a positive online world.
  • Actua’s National Indigenous Youth in STEM (InSTEM) program, in collaboration with 200 First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, engages approximately 35,000 youth annually. InSTEM was created over twenty years ago with the goal of breaking down barriers and increasing the participation of Inuit, Métis, and First Nations youth in STEM fields. With a portion of Mastercard’s investment, Actua will support the implementation of the InSTEM Program, including in-school workshops, community-based land camp programs and a for-credit high school program for Indigenous students.
  • Actua’s National Girls Program has inspired over 15,000 girls, young women and gender-diverse youth each year for more than twenty-five years. Mastercard support will go to activities such as all-girl clubs, day and overnight camps, conferences, career fairs and special events. The program aims to encourage girls and young women to embrace STEM and become future leaders in the field.
  • Actua’s Go Where Kids Are (GWKA) program engages approximately 30,000 vulnerable youth each year. Some youth in Canada lack access to STEM learning opportunities, especially in under-resourced, rural or remote communities. With support from funders like Mastercard, Actua partners with youth-serving organizations to provide sustained programming. For example, under the GWKA umbrella, Actua recently launched the National Black Youth in STEM program, which aims to increase access to quality STEM and digital literacy opportunities for Black and racialized youth across the country.

Mastercard is building on its commitment to supporting Canadian innovation and technology talent, while driving diversity in the cybersecurity sector. This partnership with Actua is the latest in a series of cybersecurity-related investments Mastercard has made in Canada, which includes a $510M investment in its Global Intelligence and Cyber Centre of Excellence in Vancouver. Facilitating cyber solutions for the payments’ ecosystem globally, the Centre of Excellence develops cutting-edge digital solutions that incorporate machine learning, biometric identification, and artificial intelligence, while providing job opportunities for new talent that Mastercard is currently recruiting.

About Actua

Actua is Canada’s largest science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) youth outreach organization representing over 40 university and college-based members. Each year, Actua’s growing network of member organizations engages over 350,000 young people in 500 communities nationwide in transformative STEM learning experiences that build critical skills and confidence. Actua focuses on engaging underrepresented youth through specialized programs for Indigenous youth, girls and young women, at-risk youth, and youth living in Northern and remote communities. Its major funding partners include the Government of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, RBC Foundation, the Suncor Energy Foundation,, Toyota Canada Foundation, Finning, CIBC Foundation, Enbridge, and Microsoft Canada.

About Mastercard

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart, and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments, and businesses realize their greatest potential. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Alison Gareau
Director of Communications, Actua
Tel: (613) 234-4137

Helena Wade
Manager, Communications, Mastercard, Canada
Tel: (613) 483-7853