Youth Employment and Microbusiness Program
Groundswell Education Society is an inclusive community of people working together to build a regenerative, democratic economy in a supportive social ecosystem.
That message resonates most deeply with youth who feel disenfranchised and disconnected from the mainstream community. At Groundswell, these youth find a safe place and a community they can connect to.
In 2016, the Groundswell Cafe was entirely staffed by:
Youth transitioning out of foster care
Youth who find this to be a safe place to learn, connect with people and explore new ideas
Youth who need access to a network and resources to be successful
Youth who have the potential to be leaders - creating new work environments and structures that will support the youth who come up behind
Low-income, or living below the poverty line
- Unemployed or underemployed
We became aware that these youth are looking for an opportunity to do something meaningful.
They are angry at a society that doesn’t seem to make any space for them. They have a deep mistrust of systems and programs that have either passed them around or simply reinforce the idea that they are broken people who must be fixed before they can become useful, productive members of the community. Every day our staff come with concerns about issues like gentrification and food security. They care about creating supportive work environments that support, heal and empower. Youth drawn to Groundswell want to lead a movement that creates supportive spaces and opportunities for their peers to do paid, meaningful work every day. To do this they need support and resources. They require intensive mentorship and training.
Groundswell Education Society is joining forces with these youth.
We are creating a program together to provide on-the-job training and an opportunity to learn every aspect of how a business is run by turning the Groundswell Cafe into a working classroom, and using the resources at hand to create microbusinesses. Youth are bringing their ideas to the table. Hands-on workshops, designed to help bring these ideas into action, are offered by our experienced mentors and community partners. Youth assess and evaluate their progress and, in a supportive environment, determine what additional supports and training they need to create their own employment opportunities that align with their life experiences, values and abilities.
Groundswell Education Society has the infrastructure and space to explore a number of opportunities to create additional opportunities through the creation of microbusinesses that will operate out of the cafe - allowing us to accommodate more youth while improving our bottom line and ensuring long-term sustainability.
We are currently looking for more funding and partnerships in the food industry to bring more opportunities to these young people to help them ignite their innate entrepreneurial qualities of resourcefulness, tenacity and passion.