Kids Up Front Foundation with Shelly Leonhardt

This week on the Inspired Blog we feature Kids Up Front, a charitable organization that redistributes unused tickets to various sporting events, recreational facilities and learning centres fairly and efficiently through its partnerships with local child-serving charitable agencies.

Hi Shelly! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us!


What is the Kids Up Front Foundation all about?   

We are a non-profit organization that believes that all children should be inspired through the power of a performance.  Kids Up Front Foundation (Vancouver) provides access to arts, culture, sports and recreation for children who otherwise would not have the opportunity. By distributing unused event tickets and creating special events to help heal, bond and unite, Kids Up Front ensures that marginalized and at risk children and youth are provided equal, inclusive access to entertaining, inspiring events and activities.

Do you feel like Kids Up Front makes a measurable difference in the lives of our community?

Absolutely.  Since opening in Vancouver in 2004, Kids Up Front has provided more than 300,000 experiences to children and their guardians across Greater Vancouver, worth more than $10 million. In 2015 alone, Kids Up Front provided 33,500 life-changing experiences, instantly brightening children’s lives, instilling a sense of belonging and validating their hopes that their dreams can be turned into reality.

Could you tell us a bit about the collaborative approach that Kids Up Front takes?

Through engaged partnerships, Kids Up Front works collaboratively with 120 registered agencies throughout Metro Vancouver to make sure a ticket never goes to waste and that it gets into the hands of vulnerable children and youth facing multiple barriers. While our partner agencies provide the basics – food, clothing, shelter, counselling and support - Kids Up Front provides the much needed but often neglected, nourishment of spirit, essential for healthy kids, inside and out.

What is the primary objective at Kids Up Front?

To provide wonderful happy experiences for under-served kids and families throughout Metro Vancouver and the lower mainland.

What are under-served kids?  

Kids that are under-served for one reason or another – it could be due to illness of them or their guardians; they could be new immigrants; they could be without parents; they could be living in an abusive environment at home.

How was Kids Up Front created?  

This is a quote from our founder -  “In the fall of 1999, a friend and I sat in the front row of a world-class event on complimentary tickets. We had a great time. I looked around and saw so many empty seats and I knew that those seats had been paid for and that those tickets were probably in somebody’s desk. I was determined to fill those seats with kids and their families that wouldn’t normally have a chance to go. I pulled a few of my friends together, and we incorporated the Kids Up Front Foundation of Alberta. Simple concept. Powerful results! Vicki, my wife, and I now live in Vancouver. I am still very active in the governance of the Kids Up Front Foundation (Vancouver)”. – John Dalziel, Founder Director/

What is the best part about working with Kids Up Front?  

Seeing the excited and happy faces of the kids that get to attend a professional game or a ballet, etc.  It can be life-changing for them.

What inspired you to get involved in charitable work?  

I want to try to make a difference in someone’s world.

What do you feel the Government  could be doing to help children in Canada?  

Be more financially supportive of the non-profit agencies (charities) that are already helping kids.

Describe the feeling you get when you have helped someone in need.  

I feel a sense of satisfaction, in knowing that I might have made a “difference” in someone’s life.  I feel that I am very blessed and if I can brighten someone’s day for a couple of minutes, hours, days, etc. then that feels good

Whats next for Kids Up Front?  

We are planning our major (annual) Fundraising Gala on November 3rd at the Fairmont Waterfront.  We have a lovely dinner, with a live & silent auction and some wonderful entertainment.

What advice would you give to someone that is interested in getting involved in charitable work?  

The work can be challenging with long hours, but very rewarding in the end.

Most people want to get involved in some form of charitable work, but it often gets pushed to the side.  Why do you think that is?  

I think it is because we are already stretched pretty thin, with work, families, exercise, hobbies, etc. that it might seem that there is no time for it; when in actuality, charities don’t always need a lot of your time, but perhaps your expertise in some area.

How can the residents of Vancouver help Kids Up Front?  

Vancouver residents can help Kids Up Front by donating event tickets that they are not going to use and by making financial donations to Kids Up Front.  We get very few grants and therefore have to always fundraise to continue to put smiles on Kid’s faces.   

Where can someone contact you if they wants to get involved with Kids Up Front?  

They may connect through our website – or by email at or by phone at 604-266-5437.

On behalf of the team at Capital Core Financial and all BC residents - thank you so much for your time and the amazing work you do!