Client Stories

New Directions Launches “Genesis”, a Social Enterprise

Genesis

Offering a wide range of holistic services, including counselling, assessment, therapy, prevention, training, residential and support programs, New Directions For Children Youth Adults and Families has worked for nearly 128 years to support children, youth, adults and families in their journey to improve their lives and communities.

Nearly 200 participants are welcomed each year into New Directions programs for justice-involved youth. Many of these youth face seemingly insurmountable barriers – extreme poverty, gang and criminal involvement, low educational achievement, and limited life skills.

A few years ago, staff at New Directions was looking for ways to help these young men develop life and employment skills. They secured a few contracts for yard maintenance and began to see some success in their venture, both in terms of income and valuable life skills for the youth.

As a non-profit, New Directions saw the benefits of the program, but needed to think about a business model that would enable them to continue running an income-generating business. “We started hearing the word ‘social enterprise’ more and more,” explains Liz Wolff, Program Manager.

Genesis is identity-forming for these youth,” explains Liz. “They start to feel, we’re making a living wage – we’re real men.”

Liz enrolled in SEED’s Business Management Training program where she learned more about the legal aspects of planning, launching and running a social enterprise. After many months of hard work and planning, Genesis was born. The business has received strong support, and now has ongoing contracts with Manitoba Housing to provide cleaning services as well as property services.

Genesis provides meaningful employment and a living wage for young men who are starting to see themselves in a new light. “Genesis is identity-forming for these youth,” explains Liz. “They start to feel, we’re making a living wage – we’re real men .’’ Liz shares how Genesis also prepares these young men to be mentors. “I remember watching a young man, a former gang member, gently teaching two younger boys on one of the job sites.”

SEED staff Frank Atnikov and Blair Hamilton worked closely with staff at New Directions as they researched and wrote their business plan. Frank and Blair also provided support through the process of helping New Directions’ Board of Directors to understand the model. “It has been my pleasure to work with New Directions from the start of the training through the completion of their business plan,” says Frank. “Their dedication to learning about revenue generation enterprises within the not for profit sector has been admirable.”

For Liz, the feeling is mutual. “We’d never have done this without SEED.”

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