Building a youth movement with a mission to inspire social entrepreneurship in Canada’s under-35 youth

By leveraging the WE Schools network of 7,000+ Canadian schools, colleges and universities, WE Are Social Entrepreneurs will continue to engage young people to inspire them to create their own micro social enterprises or join and support existing social enterprises. In collaboration with school boards, faculties of education and teachers, we look to enrich existing business and entrepreneurship curricula in high schools by infusing them with 10 capacity-building pillars (see image below) for easy module implementation and action-planning support to students and teachers. Read a copy of our report, Transforming Canada through Social Entrepreneurship, below.

Ten Pillars of Capacity Building — The WE Schools Social Entrepreneurship Program

Through a youth-led social entrepreneurship movement, WE envisions impacting the lives of youth under the age of 35 by integrating comprehensive curricular resources to educate and raise awareness about using business as a tool for social change.

From a young person in an underserved community developing a social venture to tackle food insecurity in her/his local community, to a team of young people inventing new technology to solve the world’s global water crisis, WE Are Social Entrepreneurs aims to empower and expose young people to social enterprises, learn about them and encourage a career path in the sector.

In partnership with RBC Future Launch, WE has seen great success through our inaugural social entrepreneurship program. Since its launch in Spring 2018, this program has reached youth (ages 14 to 19) across Canada through a national conference tour reaching 12 cities per year, learning resources for youth and educators, ongoing mentorship opportunities, business case challenges, and an intensive incubation program available to select youth during their summer break. As WE Are Social Entrepreneurs has grown and developed, we have collaborated with our partners at RBC, as well as youth, educators and leading organizations in the sector, to ensure that we are consistently optimizing and upgrading programming to refine its offerings for youth.

As we look to expand our core programming in fall 2019, we will implement social entrepreneurship programming and resources based on three cluster of grades—intermediate (Grades 7 and 8); senior (Grades 9 and 12); and advanced. Each grade cluster will equip teachers and students with turnkey resources and unique opportunities such as training modules, student handbooks, video series and unique thought-leader events online and in-person, to continuously build competencies. Our resources encourage the development of basic and intermediate skills through exciting hands-on social enterprise projects that impact their community and equip them with life skills as they transition out of school.

Simultaneously we will offer free educational incentives to continue inspiring hundreds of change-makers in our social entrepreneurship program, through national pitch competitions and virtual and in-person events. We look to inspire thousands more at our WE Day events, in seven major cities and reaching over 250,000 youth annually in Canada. This will scale our reach further, as an inspirational platform celebrating the hundreds of young social entrepreneurs taking action in their communities.

WE is establishing strategic partnerships with universities and nonprofits providing invaluable support to young Canadian social entrepreneurs from coast to coast to coast such as Enactus, Junior Achievement, DMZ, Ryerson, Gener8tor and others. Our programming will further reinforce practical knowledge on social entrepreneurship and prepare young people transitioning out of schools have a clear pathway to continue their development for the future.

Social Entrepreneurship
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Social Entrepreneurship
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Social Entrepreneurship
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Creating a social enterprise accelerator that provides mentorship and funding for under-35 entrepreneurs from within WE’s network

Our accelerator program aims to provide deep support to a few social enterprise “lighthouses” that will act as guideposts and pave the way for other social entrepreneurs within the next 10 years. We believe this can be done in a long-tail program, leveraging our back-end shared services, strong corporate partners and strengthening collaboration with partners in the sector: leaders in financing, programming and mentorship. More information on creating unique social will be announced when applications are open.