From the desk of Chryssa Koulis, Managing Director, SSE Ontario
It has been a whirlwind of a year for us, so it’s nice to pause and reflect on all that’s happened in just 12 months.
We ended 2017 with a massive party to celebrate our 5th birthday and the community we are part of, and launched into 2018 feeling great, but also recognizing that it was time to make some changes. Marjorie had been at the helm of the School since the beginning and wanted to step back from administrative duties to be able to focus more on our environmental programs and developing our Unlearning content. In a move that felt somewhat like the movie Freaky Friday, Marjorie and Chryssa swapped roles at the beginning of the year. Change is good, but sometimes you need a bit of stability too and we are still counting on Andrea to provide that at SSE (we’re not sure if she’s aware that she’s the only stable one!)
Our programming in 2018 was more focused on the environment, specifically our SELECT program where social justice meets climate justice to foster social and economic inclusion while strengthening community capacity to slow the pace and adapt to climate change. Twenty five incredible students completed the program in April, running projects like a Green Ramadan challenge, green diaspora dinner parties, and home gardening workshops. Collectively, students engaged nearly 15,000 Ontarians in their green initiatives!
Along with SELECT being our first ever environmental program, it was also our first time winning an environmental award. Based on her work on SELECT, Marjorie was named Environmental Defence’s Green Champion of the Year. Our second cohort of this award-winning (see what I did there?) programme began in October and we are excited to see the progress these students will make in 2019.
We were fortunate in 2018 to continue to be supported by organizations like RSA Canada and to welcome new partners including The Atmospheric Fund and Catherine Donnelly Foundation that are both supporting SELECT. Rounding out our terrific list of institutional supporters, PwC and DUCA Credit Union joined us to build momentum around intrapreneurship across Canada and entrepreneurship respectively.
Our partnership with the League of Intrapreneurs continues to grow and in February we proudly supported the launch of the second League chapter in Canada, in Vancouver. We launched that chapter during the Future of Work Summit and will continue to support and grow our intrapreneurship programming in 2019. Through our partnership with the League and the support of PwC, our work now officially extends beyond Toronto and we helped almost 500 people “unlearn” in Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa and Montreal.
Not only have we expanded nationally, as of September, Marjorie is now splitting her time between Toronto and Alaska making SSE Canada the only school in the SSE Network that is international 😉 Marjorie will be spending lots of time in Alaska for two years and will continue to work for SSE. In-person meetings may be a bit more challenging but she’s open to visitors (bring your parkas.)
2018 also brought us closer to other partners, including two leading charities in Toronto, North York Community House and West Neighbourhood House as we take the staff of those organizations on Unlearning Journeys. We’re also proud to be working with Enviromentum, Artscape and the Business Families Foundation on various programs.
We closed out the year with a great new collaboration with DUCA Impact Lab. SSE teamed up with DUCA to launch a new responsible banking initiative and supported the Lab by providing research into the needs of the entrepreneurs in our community. Toward that end, we prepared a report on the working capital needs of social entrepreneurs.
A couple of things stayed the same. We continue to be part of the Tides Canada Initiatives shared platform. Curious about the shared platform? You can learn more by reading their Annual Report featuring SSE stars on the cover. We are also proud to be part of the SSE global network of schools. To learn more about the impact of SSE, please read the SSE Annual Report.
We look forward to continuing to work with all our partners and grow our relationships in 2019!