Three students enrolled in the Business & Society (BUSO) course SOSC 4046: The Social Economy Practicum received a Community Award for their excellent experiential education work in the Jane-Finch community. Sherika Alexis-Brown, Allison Nephew and Kayathiri Ambalavnar were honoured by Member of Parliament Judy Sgro, representing Humberside-Blackcreek, for generating revenue for the Firgrove Community Learning & Innovation Centre (FLICC).
The BUSO course is run out of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. During the 2015-16 academic year, the students carried out their placement in the community where they designed a business plan and social enterprise to generate additional revenue for FLICC, which is a grassroots organization that focuses on women and childcare programming. The social enterprise is a café to ensure a steady stream of income for FLICC – currently operating on a $100,000 annual budget – to continue to work with hundreds of people in the Jane-Finch community.
“The BUSO placement course is not only giving students a meaningful work experience, but the work students do in the field, especially in racially marginalized communities, can facilitate change,” says social science Professor Caroline Hossein.
Professor Hossein, who teaches the Business & Society course, was also honoured alongside the students and the Executive Director of FLICC, Lorraine Anderson.
“Working at Firgrove Learning & Innovation Community Centre was a memorable experience,” says student Sherika Alexis-Brown. “My group’s primary goal was to create a social and economic change that will enrich and uplift the Jane and Finch community. It was the perfect opportunity to utilize my skills and knowledge in business, and apply them to a real-life project that can support real-life situations. I enjoyed interacting with residents in the community, participating in business workshops and working with business agents, which helped us to develop a feasible business proposal. What started as an idea has transformed into an up-and-running, successful café at FLICC.”
FLICC was founded in 2008 as a sewing collective of women immigrants, many of whom were single mothers from low-income backgrounds. They came to the centre to sew, but, most importantly, to find comradery and to discuss tenancy advocacy, childcare and jobs.
“Through the placement at FLICC, we had the chance to create promotional material, research about the safety regulations that they needed to pass in order to move forth with their endeavour, as well as conduct focus groups, which allowed us to get to know the community better and what their needs were,” said student Kayathiri Ambalavanar. “FLICC is an amazing community of people, and we are so thankful to have been a part of it.”
“You (Caroline Hossein) and your students have made headway in terms of your contribution to getting the FLICC Café started,” said Anderson. “What started as only a small idea has now matured into the FLICC Café, a vibrant and flourishing social enterprise. Nine women were fully trained and acquired food handler certificates. The kitchen is now certified by Toronto Public Health Department and the café group is providing catering services for the community.”
Revenue from the FLICC Café is invested back into programming for the community.