Project Rise is the working name given to a new venture being developed by Island Crisis Care Society, aimed to offer a new breadth of support for ICCS clients, as well as a community and project hub for further development. Though efforts have been made to reduce the factors that cause homelessness in Nanaimo and Parksville, the need for support continues, and ICCS is working to find new programming opportunities for client wellbeing and recovery.
Project Rise incorporates the creation of both a social purpose company, Rising Hope Services Inc, as well as a new ICCS program, Project Rise Community Connections Program. This new ICCS program will offer training and pre-employment skills to clients, supporting them on their path towards recovery and independence.
There are many phases to Project Rise, including:
The end goal and focus of the entire Project Rise movement is to create sustainable programming and revenue which will support and enhance the work of ICCS within the communities where we serve.
The concept of a social enterprise to support the continued work of ICCS has been in development for several years. Over the past 6-12 months, ICCS has recognized the capacity for finally moving forward toward this goal and engaged a social enterprise consultant to help us strategically develop in this direction.
Early in 2021, an opportunity arose for our leadership team to consider the purchase of Nanaimo Bakery Corporation. When we first visited the site, the potential that the building and business carried for us was apparent immediately. We realized that it could be the perfect venue for Project Rise to be born. We shared our vision for carrying on the legacy of the Nanaimo Bakery, with a renewed social purpose and entered into an agreement to purchase the business.
While ICCS did not initially plan to go into the bakery business (though we have a lot of good cooks around here!) the opportunity to identify an existing business and convert it into a social enterprise (see more on what that is, below) will give us an incredible opportunity to bypass the usual long years of growth and development investment necessary for a new social enterprise to be born, and instead start to reap the positive impacts immediately. ICCS recognizes the incredible privilege of stepping into an existing and respected business and will ensure that the reputation and centrality of the Nanaimo Bakery to the Nanaimo community is respected and maintained.
Though this seems like a completely “outside of the box” project, we are grateful that there are many other amazing organizations who have gone before us and chartered a course to inspire and guide us. We have compiled a list below of some projects that have inspired us, including various types of social enterprise, social purpose and cooperative businesses. This list though is not limited, and we are constantly learning about other great projects. If you know of a project or organization blazing the way forward in the Social Enterprise sector, we would love to hear about them!
According to the Government of Canada, “A social enterprise is a revenue-generating organization whose objective is to have a social impact.” (http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/053.nsf/eng/h_00006.html)
According to Wikipedia (and who doesn’t use Wikipedia to find answers to all our questions, these days?) “Social enterprises have both business goals and social goals. As a result, their social goals are embedded in their objective, which differentiates them from other organizations and corporations. A social enterprise’s main purpose is to promote, encourage, and make social change.”
Whichever definition or source you prefer, a social enterprise is an organization that applies business principles to create a positive change, and through its profits being reinvested in not just the enterprise but the social cause that it espouses, it can make a sustainable difference.
Project Rise, through the establishment of Rising Hope Services Inc. and Project Rise Community Connections Program, will serve as a centre for change in our community, bringing people together from all parts of Nanaimo to meet, learn from one another, and find new reasons for hope. While ostensibly a project focusing on building opportunities for ICCS clients to learn skills and develop confidence for independence, Project Rise will also offer a space for meeting and learning from one another across the community. ICCS envisions meeting rooms for community events and seminars, as well as learning and collaborative spaces which will encourage productive dialogue and foster a sense of community. The Bakery and Café will be another focal point for this, bringing people from all walks of life and parts of our community together in one space, to support growth and enjoy good food!
The vision and mission of ICCS remains intact. ICCS programs aim to meet people where they are, and to care for them in that place, offering support and opportunity to move towards recovery and independence at each client’s own pace. ICCS works to provide a continuum for care across all its programs, supporting clients where and as they are on their journey to recovery. For some clients this is just providing a safe place to stay and a warm meal, for others, ongoing supportive housing, and for still others, the opportunity to learn new skills and move towards employment readiness.
Project Rise will enrich this spectrum of support, bringing a new dimension to the opportunities that ICCS can offer clients, without diminishing the importance of our existing programs for the clients they serve.
Project Rise will help ICCS continue to care for those in need, fulfilling our mandate to “Develop and Provide programs” to help clients improve their circumstances and move forward in a positive trajectory towards recovery.
Island Crisis Care Society (ICCS) works with the most vulnerable people in the Nanaimo and Parksville communities – people who have been living on the margins of our cities, rough on the street, and people who have experienced trauma in their lives which has resulted in poverty, insecurity, and frequently, mental health and substance use challenges. Through its programs ICCS aims to support people as they move towards wellness, recovery, and a renewed independence. The key to successful re-integration into community life is enabling clients to see their own value and worth in society. Furthermore, through long term advocacy with our service providers and the wider community, ICCS aims to impact the perception of homelessness and vulnerability in the community, supporting integration, inclusion and – ultimately – prevention of the factors which contribute to homelessness.
This requires a long-term view and investment from all of us. Change takes time, and ‘recovery’ from the trauma and rejection that many ICCS clients have faced is a step-by-step process. All of ICCS’s current programs work to support people on their journey away from the street, in conjunction with programs offered by sister organizations across the city and in partnership with the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition. These relationships will continue throughout the coming years in support of a shared vision and an ongoing commitment to increase options for supportive and affordable housing.
Project Rise will offer a new dimension to all of this ongoing programming, and an opportunity for more clients to see a light of hope in their journey towards wellness. It will not guarantee a quick fix – none of our programs can do that – but it will offer a new chance for clients to move forward in hope, gaining new skills for life and possible employment and as contributors to the well-being of our community as a whole.
ICCS is and will continue to be a not-for-profit organization. The Nanaimo Bakery, and other social enterprises that may be developed in the future under the auspices of Project Rise will be set up as a separate entity, under the holding company Rising Hope Services Inc. Though affiliated with ICCS and established as a social enterprise, this business component will be separate from the operations and overall management of ICCS. Profits from the business will be reinvested in operations, with a portion returning as a contribution to help widen Project Rise and ICCS program development, offering a new scope of opportunities for our clients.
Of course, some of the revenues of Project Rise and its social enterprise components, including the Nanaimo Bakery, will be used to sustain those businesses; however, by setting them up as a ‘social enterprise’, this means that some revenue will be able to be rolled back into ICCS operations to help more people who need support find the care and hope that they need.
Like all not-for-profit organizations, ICCS runs on a tight budget and is committed to faithful stewardship of the resources that it has. Our priority will always be supporting our clients through quality programs, offering the best opportunities for support and for hope that we can, in collaboration with our community.
Through the years, ICCS has been privileged to both manage and own several premises which have housed our programs. While these are ‘tools of the trade’ for ICCS program delivery, in purely business terms they can be considered assets. It is based on this, and on the trust of donors and partners like VIHA and BC Housing that ICCS programs have been able to expand through recent years. This has enabled us to now take a leap of faith and take on the purchase of the Nanaimo Bakery and develop Project Rise.
Though this is a big step, we see clearly the need that exists among our client community for this new area of programming and are convicted that the development of a functioning business as a social enterprise is the best way to deliver these needed services. However, to make it work we will continue to need the ongoing support and collaboration of our faithful donors and partners, ensuring a continuity across all ICCS programming – and the best possible opportunities for our clients.
More than ever!
Project Rise and the social enterprises that will be a part of it, including the Nanaimo Bakery, are a new expansion of programming which will provide innovative opportunities for ICCS clients and their development. We have spent considerable time planning and developing this concept and have engaged several professional advisors along the way. However, ICCS has also taken a tremendous leap of faith in moving forward in this direction and we have done so knowing that we have a wide network of supporters within our community who are committed to helping those in need find HOPE amid hopeless situations.
ICCS aims to provide support for our clients as they journey towards recovery; all our clients are at different places along this “continuum”, and our job is to support them wherever they are. Some may be ready to learn new skills and move towards independence through rent subsidies or participation in Project Rise, but others will still need a space in supportive housing or assisted living programs – the programs ICCS donors already support. As this project unfolds, ICCS will continue the operation of existing programs and will count on the ongoing support of donors like you to make all our programs successful.
The Nanaimo Bakery is an established presence in the Nanaimo community – and we love it too! The idea is not to change the customer or community experience of the bakery or lose the wonderful products that we all love. Rather, our goal is to transform the bakery into something more: a hub for people from across our community to come together and discuss the issues we are all passionate about; not only a bakery, but a driving force for community change.
The Nanaimo Bakery will continue to have great products, but now there will be the chance for ICCS clients to learn about the business and contribute to their own development and the bakery’s success. At the same time, revenues from the bakery will not just support its standard operations, but a significant portion will be rolled back into ICCS programming to support even more clients find the footing and hope they need.
The Bakery and Café will also serve as a meeting place, where customers and ICCS supporters can come to learn more about our programs, have a chat, and see the life of ICCS a bit more closely.
So now when you buy bread or a cake at the Nanaimo Bakery, you’ll not only be feeding your body, but you will be feeding your soul by making an even bigger difference to our community – we’re looking forward to seeing you there!
As part of the Project Rise Community Connection Program, participants will learn pre-employment, employment and life skills depending on their individual needs and goals. Once they have completed a work skills program, they will consult with our Community Connection team to determine what type of work placement will suit them best. Possible work placements may include:
It takes a community to support the work of changing lives and Project Rise will give opportunities to support this work in new and innovative ways! Here are some ideas:
It may be asked, why is ICCS investing money in such a big venture? If you have so many resources, why not just directly help all of the homeless people we see on the streets in Nanaimo? These are important questions.
ICCS is taking a bold leap forward in strategically leveraging resources for this new program and for the purchase of the Nanaimo Bakery through Rising Hope Services Inc. We believe that this investment will create a longer term benefit to the community – social capital that will benefit us all – and that is why we are moving forward in this dramatic new way.
We also know that this is a necessary step to support ICCS clients, people who have suffered homelessness and other challenges through their lives, who want to return to being contributing members of our community.
ICCS believes firmly in the work that is done by our partners across the community to reach out to those in need in very real ways every day. This is vital work, work that ICCS embraces and is a part of through other aspects of our programming that provide crisis care and longer term supportive care for people in need. Yet through our 30 plus years of work in the sector, we also know that we need to support people in other ways as they progress forward towards recovery. We believe that Project Rise and this new investment fills a gap in our community, supporting people as they move towards full independence, and we are grateful for the opportunity to contribute in this new way.
It is a big step, and one for which we will need a lot of partnerships and support, but we are convinced that it is an opportunity that cannot be overlooked, and we are grateful for the chance to step forward in faith in this new way.
This new venture, and the thinking and planning behind it, have included the support and creativity of many actors, but a special shout out has to be given to our partners in Scale Collaborative who have walked alongside us throughout the ideation and development stage, through grant money provided by the Community Foundations of Canada Investment Readiness Program. Without this involvement, guidance and collaboration, Project Rise and the creation of Rising Hope Services Inc. as the new social purpose company and owner to the Nanaimo bakery might not have been possible.