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Program Announcement: WESLinks
We are excited to announce the NEW continuous intake WESLinks program that began in April 2018.
The program offers essential skills (document use and numeracy), soft skills, goal setting and paid on the job training in social enterprises and is a great options for individuals transitioning to work.
For more information please contact email@example.com or call 648-0202.
Innovation & Flexibility Award
We are happy to announce that we were the recipients of the Innovation and Flexibility Excellence Award from the United Way. A representative from EY presented Christina with the $2,000 award at the United Way's Community Excellence Awards on April 9 and had this to say:
"EY has a long history in supporting the community and the United Way. As past chair of the United Way campaign and working on projects with United Way, I have had the opportunity to get to know charities in our a little better. When Wendy asked if we would be interested in sponsoring the Innovation and Flexibility Excellence Award, it was an easy yes. That was before we knew who the winner was. Promoting Entrepreneurship is a corporate priority for EY and this charity has been incredibly entrepreneurial. Their clients told them they did not just want to learn to read, but wanted to work, so they transformed the literacy organization and created transition to work programs. When there were few jobs available for their clients to transition to employment, they started businesses. They have an exceptional leadership team that has embedded innovation, learning, and accountability to outcomes into their DNA. It is with great pride I invite Christina Fowler and her team of the Saint John Learning Exchange to receive the Innovation and Flexibility Award." - Claude Francoeur, EY
Claude Francoeur presents our Executive Director, Christina, with the EY Innovation & Flexibility Award.
Program Announcement: G.O.A.L.S.
Our new GOALS (Growing Occupational, Academic and Life Skills) Program is an exciting initiative involving five non-profits aimed at removing barriers for youth in the Saint John community and helping them move towards their employment and education goals.
GOALS participants will access:
- Academic and soft skills training in a flexible and
dynamic learning environment
- Authentic work experience in social enterprises
- Financial incentives for participation
- Wrap around supports through the Teen Resource
Centre (TRC) to reduce barriers to education and
If you, or someone you know, is between ages 17-20, has barriers to education and employment and has not yet finished high school, please contact the Learning Exchange at 648-0202 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out if this program would be a fit for you!
Stone Soup Café Update
The café at the Hub is now open 5 days a week and is serving up delicious breakfast and lunch items. There are daily lunch specials including an African peanut soup, homemade mac & cheese, our dragon bowl, and a chicken curry. You can find more information and get updates on the week's menu on our Facebook page and website (https://www.stonesoupsj.ca/).
Stop by the café and enjoy a coffee, one of our delicious baked goods, or lunch!
Learner Baking Day
In April, Jillian Jessulat, one our board members, generously donated her time to give our learners a one-of-a-kind experience and lesson in cake decorating. With her help they created some beautiful AND delicious baked goods. We're all excited for Jillian to come back and give the learners another lesson!
Spring Cleaning With Voila!
It's that time of year again: the snow has finally melted and we're all getting ready for warmer weather. Why not treat yourself to a spring clean from Voila? Our staff is eager and ready to help clean your home or business using our line of allergy and environmentally friendly cleaners.
WES Project: Living Wall
It's beginning to look a lot like Spring inside the Learning Exchange, especially because of one of the latest projects of the WES class: a living wall.
The class researched, designed, and built the wall and sourced all of the plants from Cedarcrest Gardens.
The wall has a pump built into it that automatically waters all of the plants. It's only been in operation for about a month but the plants are all flourishing. We're all excited to watch it grow!
International Down Syndrome Day
Staff and Learners celebrated International Down Syndrome Day on March 21 by wearing crazy and mismatched socks. Lily, at our front desk, and Ginny organized the event and had Impact Market selling odd socks to help raise awareness.
Grand Opening: Stone Soup Café @ The HUB
The day has finally arrived! Stone Soup's café here at The HUB will have its grand opening on Wednesday February 14 from 8:30am - 2:00pm. We'll be serving up a selections of soups, salads, sandwiches and sweets with a menu that we plan on growing over the months to come.
Throughout February the café's hours will be: Wednesdays - Fridays from 8:30am-2:00pm.
Staff Announcement: Receptionist
In January of 2018 we added a new member to our team, Lisa-Marie Mapile. Lisa is the new face at the front desk at the Learning Exchange and we couldn't be happier to have her join us.
She recently moved to Saint John and brings with her an extensive background working in Office Administration. She is quick to make sure that everyone coming into the Learning Excha nge feels welcome. If you haven't had the chance to meet her yet, feel free to drop in and say hi!
Power Up to Employment @ The HUB
To find out more about the Women's Empowerment Network and Power Up click on the image above
In February Power Up to Employment returned to the HUB. This 10 week leadership and empowerment program works with women who are focused on their next steps and achieving their career goals.
The WorkLinks team will be delivering some sessions to the ladies in March and April and couldn't be more excited.
Introducing WorkLinks Skills Series
Erin Gallagher, our new Community Soft Skills Developer, has launched a soft skills development series to improve productivity, performance and retention for companies and organizations. We help individuals and teams self-asses, build new habits and develop new ways of thinking and behaving in the workplace. Workshops can take place here at the HUB or at the company's own offices.
There are 7 Soft Skill areas of focus: communication, conflict resolution, problem solving, professionalism, receiving feedback, teamwork and time management.
Our first WorkLinks Skills Series is currently underway with Adams-Green, a mission-driven accounting and consulting firm. We kicked things off with a session on Communication. The workshop took place at the HUB and everyone left with real goals and action items to put into practice in the office.
Staff Announcement: Community Soft Skills Developer
We're excited to announce that Erin Gallagher has joined our team in a brand new role as the Community Soft Skills Developer. Erin has been building on the successes and innovations in soft skills training and development already taking place at the Learning Exchange.
She has a diverse employment and education background that includes training, coaching, facilitation, and social enterprise development. She's passionate about applying holistic and collaborative approaches to the complex challenges facing Saint John.
Her goal is to continue to help the Learning Exchange to be a leader in soft skills training – from classroom to working in our social enterprises. We know what employers want and how to foster real changes in thinking and behaviour for soft skill success.
Hub & Hemmings House Birthday Bash
A huge thank you to everyone who joined us on December 1 at the Social Enterprise Hub to celebrate our joint birthday party with Hemmings House Pictures. The evening was a massive success with so many members of our community coming out to show their support, enjoy the music, films, performers, food, vendors, and drinks.
End of Year Learner Lunch
On December 19 we celebrated the upcoming holidays with our learners with a delicious meal of hot turkey sandwiches catered by Stone Soup. We also received a generous gift of books from a member of the community and so we were able to provide every learner with a gift for the holidays.
Employer Spotlight: Green Coast Energy
Green Coast Energy was a new partnership formed in 2017. They reached out to our Job Developer for help with the recruitment of an administrative assistant. The manager expressed his frustration working with fee for service agencies in the past because they were not able to find the right fit for the organization and they had hired this position multiple times in the last couple of years. After working closely with the Job Developer and the WorkLinks team we were able to help them find Jenny who has settled into her role as their Administrative Assistant. We look forward to continuing with this partnership in the future.
Voila! Essentials Relaunch
Since we originally launched our line of natural cleaning products in 2016 we have been hard at work to make the products even better. We are relaunching the line in December with 3 products total: Multi-Purpose Cleaner, Paste and our new Yoga Mat Spray!
The Multi-Purpose Cleaner and Paste are both available in 4 scents (including unscented) and the Yoga Mat Spray is available in our new signature blend of essential oils. The Feel Good Store and Impact Market will both be restocked with these items just in time for the holiday season!
Don't forget, refills of all product are available for a discounted rate.
Hub & Hemmings House Birthday Bash
Join us this coming Friday December 1 @ 6pm to celebrate the Social Enterprise Hub's 1st birthday! It's going to be a real celebration with live music, artists and vendors, fire performers and the Hemmings House Port City Impact Film Festival!
Stop by the Hub between 6 and 10pm and enjoy a delicious drink from Foghorn Brewing or Yip Cider, sample some food from Stone Soup's new café and celebrate the Hub's birthday!
Stone Soup's New Café
We are very excited to announce that Stone Soup Catering and Express Café will be opening a second location at the Social Enterprise Hub toward the end of 2017. The café will serve as a training ground for program participants and provide us with more opportunities to hire our graduates at a living wage.
Construction is already underway and everyone here at the Hub is so excited about this new addition to our space.
Stay tuned for an announcement about our grand opening!
Changes in the Workplace Essential Skills program!
We are excited to announce that the NEW continuous intake Workplace Essential Skills program began at The Learning Exchange on September 11, 2017. The program now accepts referrals for new participants on an ongoing basis and participants can start as soon as a spot becomes available.
The program combines elements of:
- Group work
- Project based learning
- Essential skills (Document Use, Numeracy)
- Soft skills (Communication, Working with Others, and Thinking Skills) focused on
- Employment outcomes (interviews, conflict resolution on the job, resume building etc)
Stay tuned because even more changes are coming!
Social Enterprise Update: Impact Market & Stone Soup Fallsview Location
We're always looking for ways to grow our social enterprises so we can give more learners the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and on the job coaching in a supportive environment so they are better able to achieve their goals.
In September, Impact Market and Stone Soup teamed up to open a satellite location over at 100 Fallsview Ave. We wanted to reach the cruise ship passengers coming into the city and give them the opportunity to try our food and shop in our store. We wanted to provide snacks and gifts to any tourist who chooses to check out Saint John's natural wonder.
We made the announcement on Huddle and we're happy to report that it's been a success so far! You can find Emily at Impact Market's satellite location Monday through Friday from 9:30am - 4pm.
Click on the image to read Huddle's article about our new location!
Employer Partner Spotlight: Dowd Roofing
An essential piece of the WorkLinks program is the strong employer partnerships that have been developed over the past few years. Ongoing communication with employers allows us to provide support to individuals after they become employed and ensure a positive relationship between employer and employee.
In 2016 WorkLinks formed a strong connection with Dowd Roofing that has continued into this year. Peter Wilson, the General Manager, has hired over 10 individuals through WorkLinks. Some of these individuals have been offered the opportunity to participate in an apprenticeship program where they are working toward formal certifications as roofers. Peter has also generously donated his time to speak with learners in the Workplace Essential Skills class about what employers are looking for in staff and why people struggle to keep their jobs. We’re proud to say that Dowd Roofing is a supporter of the work we do at The Learning Exchange and look forward to continuing to work with them in the future!
In September Christina and Dayna traveled to Calgary to present about the WorkLinks 5 year project to an audience of enterprising non-profits, business leaders, and members of government. Their workshop, "The Strength of Innovation and Community", focused on some of the work that WorkLinks has been doing with adults in our community and included information about our Social Return on Investment analysis.
Hemmings House Pictures & The Learning Exchange
Hemmings House Pictures (HHP) has been a great supporter of the Learning Exchange and our work over the years. In the spring they launched the Saint John Stock Exchange which provides beautiful stock images and videos for businesses and non-profits in the city to purchase. The proceeds from the Stock Exchange go to The Learning Exchange and help fund our programs.
Over the course of the past month HHP provided us with a summer student, Zach, who worked alongside Emily (our Team Lead at the Impact Market) to create videos of learner success stories. These videos are currently in the final editing phases but stay tuned for their release!
Social Enterprise Update: Voila!
Throughout the past year we’ve expanded our customer based so much that we have had to hire more staff. When Tina (our manager) began with Voila we barely had enough customers to employ 2 or 3 cleaners, but now we have a strong staff of 6 cleaners, Tina, and our Social Enterprise Developer!
Our team is very strong and each and every Voila employee is a valuable asset to the company. We wouldn’t be growing as much as we are without the staff that we have – they’re flexible and reliable and always happy to help the team out when we get some last minute cleans added. The majority of our staff has come out of one or more of the Learning Exchange programs.
Voila also uses our main office here at the Social Enterprise Hub as a training grounds for participants of the Workplace Essential Skills (WES) program to gain meaningful work experience in a safe and supportive environment.
Our residential cleaners use the Voila Essentials line of cleaning products in the homes of our clients. These products are all natural, made by the WES class at the Learning Exchange, and smell and work great. Voila Essentials are carried by the Impact Market, The Feel Good Store, and on our website. Click on our Voila logo above to find out more or book a walk through for a clean!
Social Return On Investment Update: Going into Year 3
As many of you know, WorkLinks has been working on a Social Return On Investment project with an evaluator, SiMPACT Strategy Group. 2017 is Year 3 of this 5 year project and we're happy to report that at the end of Year 2 for every dollar invested in WorkLinks approximately $5.01 is created in social and economic value. We're looking forward to seeing what Year 3 will bring!
Social Enterprise Update: Stone Soup
It's hard to believe we are already more than six months into 2017! We closed off 2016 with a bang, and it hasn't been slowing down. We roasted and hosted many turkey dinners over the holidays and watched many happy faces of all ages. We've got a new manager at Stone Soup- Andrew MacDonald. He brings with him years of experience in the kitchen and is very excited to work with everyone in continuing the great service, as well as growing the business.
At the Boys and Girls Club, we were busy preparing school lunches for 5 different schools. We have been changing up the menu for the schools, and are developing new processes for preparation. The Club kitchen is a well-oiled machine and getting better every day. The kitchen staff loves watching the kids from PCS show up for lunch every day and feeding the kids from daycare. Our daycare children have been really into different vegetables lately. They are loving celery and cauliflower, or as they call it “white broccoli”.
Every day at the café, Sandra and Keith work hard to bring healthy and tasty options to employees and members of the YMCA. They also do many caterings for groups from the Y, as well as all around the city.
Speaking of catering, it's been really great to see so many repeat customers! Many of these fine folks have been sharing our name as well. We are getting requests from all kinds of organizations. Earlier this year we catered a group from Ottawa who got our name from a local MP. We are building connections with so many amazing groups in the city and beyond. We love watching these connections build relationships that ultimately help to grow this social enterprise.
Lily's Send Off
For those of you who follow us on Facebook you'll be familiar with all of the posts from the desk of our co-op student, Lily McNulty. Lily worked at the Hub's front desk from January until June and was the person who greeted everyone coming into the Hub. In early June Lily went on her summer break.
Lily was a very welcome addition to the many faces at the Hub and we're so excited for her to return in the fall of 2017!
Social Enterprise Update: Impact Market
Impact Market is the newest social enterprise owned and operated by the Saint John Learning Exchange. We are a specialty gift shop that sells products that fall within one or all four of our pillars of impact:
Social- products made by social enterprises
Local-locally made products
Cultural-products that help educate and create awareness for other cultures and traditions
Environmental- environmentally friendly products, upcycled and repurposed items that would otherwise end up in our landfills
We create opportunities for program participants of the Learning Exchange and other community organizations to gain meaningful work experience in a safe and supportive environment.
We've also given other organizations the opportunity to produce products and sell them in the Impact Market. An example of this is Pathways to Education who have launched the "Growing Grads" Social Enterprise and are currently selling their plants in the Market.
Check us out on Facebook or stop by and have a look around!
More on the Technology Funding Grant!
On October 27 members of staff attended the 40th Anniversary Gala for the Greater Saint John Community Foundation. Now that we've officially received the grant we're hard at work coming up with innovative ways to integrate technology into our programming.
Technology Funding Grant for the Learning Exchange!
We're excited to announce that the Learning Exchange is the recipient of the Community Foundation's 2016 Anniversary Grant!! We will be presented with the grant of $40,000 at their 40th Anniversary Gala on October 27. Stay tuned until after then to find out more about what we're planning to do with the grant that will help us bring technology into the classrooms in new and innovative ways!
Funding secured! Social Enterprise Hub Opening: September 12, 2016
It's official! The Learning Exchange is moving to our new home at 139 Prince Edward St on September 1, 2016. Classes are back in session on September 12. Our phone number is still the same.
Come visit us in this exciting new space!
Donors, Future Tenants and the Mayor Tour the Social Enterprise Hub Thanks 97.3 The Wave for the covering our Social Enterprise Hub Tour !
Voila! Essentials has launched!
After over a year in development we're very excited to announce that our line of natural cleaning products Voila! Essentials is available for purchase at the Feel Good Store on Germain St! The products are safe for children and pets, highly effective and they smell great!
New Social Enterprise Announced
The Saint John Learning Exchange is excited to announce Stone Soup Catering & Express Cafe, located inside the new YMCA.
Funding Secured for Social Enterprise Hub!
The Learning Exchange is thrilled to be a partner in the new Social Enterprise Hub. We have worked very hard at securing the funding and thanks to this last piece from ACOA we are now ready to start the build. Let the countdown begin!
WorkLinks- Our Theory of Change
Thanks to Melanie Hientz, with Living SJ for assisting us in putting the exceptional work we do in one impressive Theory of Change diagram.
The expansion of WorkLinks has short and long term impact for our community with the ultimate goal of sustainable employment that reduces poverty.
Building tomorrow's workforce from the ground up- Telegraph Journal March 2,2015
Workforce development – it’s a topic that surfaces in nearly every economic development conversation and one which hounds private sector and post-secondary stakeholders alike.
Figuring out the formula between available jobs and the recruitment and retention of talent is as elusive as it is frustrating. Word on the street is “there are no jobs,” but meanwhile bilingual positions are going unfilled and certain IT and skilled-trade employers can’t find qualified workers. And so discussion churns on about our region’s “skills gap.” Read full article here
The Learning Exchange Celebrates 30 Years!
2014 marks the 30th Anniversary of The Learning Exchange. We have evolved tremendously over that time but have stayed true to our mission of meeting the community's needs with holistic and innovative solutions. While our primary focus is helping you meet your academic and employment goals, we are also committed to making our neighborhood a better place to call home. Check out this short video to see how we decided to celebrate!
A HUGE thank you to our sponsors and supporters: Thank you to our sponsors: The Waterloo Neighborhood Association, Courtney Bay Tenancy Association, Tzigane Caddell, Nate Guimond, EY, Innovatia, UNB Saint John, Atlantic Superstore, United Way, Chang Taekwondo, City of Saint John, NBCC, and KPMG .. Without your help this would not have been possible!