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How a youth co-op services program brings change to the community

November 2, 2022
min read

Co-ops, financial and otherwise, help improve our communities and are guided by concern for the community.

In 2021, Cambrian Credit Union donated $2,500 towards Teen Stop Jeunesse and their Youth Co-op Services program. This program aims to teach youth (10-15 years) about the co-op model, focusing on banking, payroll and accounting.

Cambrian had the chance to speak with Patrick LeBlanc, the Executive Director at Teen Stop Jeunesse, to learn more about the program and its impact on the community. Teen Stop Jeunesse’s Youth Co-op Program started in 2014 for youths between the ages of 14 to 18. The idea originated from a Quebec-based program which used the cooperative (or coop) model. The coop model is a business model where a group of participants come together to meet their everyday economic or social needs through a jointly owned enterprise. The participating youth would work together to cold call, negotiate contracts and share revenue based on the effort and time put into the project.

The program’s participants offer services that support the community at an affordable rate. They work on projects in the community, such as grass cutting, graffiti removal, painting for community members, and shopping for seniors. A good example of an innovative project they worked on was painting parking lines at their location’s parkade. They researched, bought the tools, and successfully executed the idea.

The program runs for four months and aims to recruit 10 to 15 participants under the supervision of two trained facilitators. The facilitators ensure that the group stays on track with the project, understands the coop model, and assists with day to day operation of their business, all while working towards a common goal.  

“It’s amazing to see the smile on their faces when they receive the first payment. Most of these kids’ parents and guardians told them they wouldn’t amount to anything, so seeing that first pay is such a proud moment,” said Patrick LeBlanc. “They are proud of themselves, and their families are proud of them.”

Because of this co-op program, many youths stay off the streets and learn employable skills through first-hand experience.

Cambrian looks forward to continuing to support Teen Stop Jeunesse by providing additional support through employee volunteering and knowledge-sharing opportunities.

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