The Empowerment Plan

This story about an amazing young social entrepreneur who is changing the lives of homeless people in Detroit is wonderful inspiration to encourage everyone to take action on behalf of the over 600,000 people who experience homelessness on any given night in the United States.

Veronika Scott was a fashion student at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit when her teacher, Stephen Schock, challenged her class to create a product that filled a need, rather than satisfying or creating a fad. Veronika’s design was a coat for homeless people that could transform into a sleeping bag, since in her city, she says, “you are constantly faced with the homeless epidemic.”

Not only did her design win a 2011 International Design Excellence Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America, it’s now become the core of Veronika’s nonprofit organization, The Empowerment Plan, which hires people from homeless shelters and transition homes to help her make the coats.

Veronika originally designed the coats seeking input from people at a homeless shelter. After receiving feedback from people who used the prototype over a Detroit winter, she refined the design to create her final version which, in addition to being a waterproof and windproof coat and sleeping bag, also transforms into an over-the-shoulder bag with storage in the arm sockets.

By year’s end, Veronika and her employees at The Empowerment Plan hope to make 600 coats a month to be distributed free of charge to people living on the streets. That’s twice as many as they currently make but the 23-year-old social entrepreneur knows her employees are up to the challenge.

“Everybody told me that my business was going to fail — not because of who I was giving my product to but because of who I was hiring,” Veronika shared. “They said that these homeless women will never make more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich — you cannot rely on them for anything. And I know my ladies enjoy proving everybody wrong.”

Veronika is also planning to open a sister, for-profit company to sell the coats: after presenting it at Aspen Fashion Week a year ago, people have been asking to buy them as a fashion item. She hopes that the for-profit company (which will also hire employees from shelters and transition homes) will help support their charitable work.

Veronika would also like to show other clothing producers that local manufacturing is possible; as she states, “I think we’re going to show a lot of people: you think it’s outdated to do manufacturing in your neighborhood, but I think it’s something that we have to do in the future, where it’s sustainable, where you invest in people, where they’re not interchangeable parts.”

You can read more about Veronika’s organization on PBS athttp://tinyurl.com/pyk8xmc

or watch a short video about her work athttp://tinyurl.com/qbe5oeq

 

To learn more about The Empowerment Plan or how you can support their work, visit http://www.empowermentplan.org/

 
This story about an amazing young social entrepreneur who is changing the lives of homeless people in Detroit is wonderful inspiration to encourage everyone to take action on behalf of the over 600,000 people who experience homelessness on any given night in the United States. </p>
<p>Veronika Scott was a fashion student at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit when her teacher, Stephen Schock, challenged her class to create a product that filled a need, rather than satisfying or creating a fad. Veronika's design was a coat for homeless people that could transform into a sleeping bag, since in her city, she says, “you are constantly faced with the homeless epidemic." </p>
<p>Not only did her design win a 2011 International Design Excellence Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America, it’s now become the core of Veronika's nonprofit organization, The Empowerment Plan, which hires people from homeless shelters and transition homes to help her make the coats.</p>
<p>Veronika originally designed the coats seeking input from people at a homeless shelter. After receiving feedback from people who used the prototype over a Detroit winter, she refined the design to create her final version which, in addition to being a waterproof and windproof coat and sleeping bag, also transforms into an over-the-shoulder bag with storage in the arm sockets. </p>
<p>By year's end, Veronika and her employees at The Empowerment Plan hope to make 600 coats a month to be distributed free of charge to people living on the streets. That’s twice as many as they currently make but the 23-year-old social entrepreneur knows her employees are up to the challenge.</p>
<p>“Everybody told me that my business was going to fail -- not because of who I was giving my product to but because of who I was hiring," Veronika shared. "They said that these homeless women will never make more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich -- you cannot rely on them for anything. And I know my ladies enjoy proving everybody wrong."</p>
<p>Veronika is also planning to open a sister, for-profit company to sell the coats: after presenting it at Aspen Fashion Week a year ago, people have been asking to buy them as a fashion item. She hopes that the for-profit company (which will also hire employees from shelters and transition homes) will help support their charitable work. </p>
<p>Veronika would also like to show other clothing producers that local manufacturing is possible; as she states, “I think we're going to show a lot of people: you think it's outdated to do manufacturing in your neighborhood, but I think it's something that we have to do in the future, where it's sustainable, where you invest in people, where they're not interchangeable parts.”</p>
<p>Kudos to this amazing Mighty Girl for her impressive ingenuity and compassionate spirit! </p>
<p>You can read more about Veronika's organization on PBS at http://tinyurl.com/pyk8xmc or watch a short video about her work at http://tinyurl.com/qbe5oeq</p>
<p>To learn more about The Empowerment Plan or how you can support their work, visit http://www.empowermentplan.org/</p>
<p>For a wonderful book about female inventors throughout history, check out “Girls Think of Everything” for readers 8 to 13 at http://www.amightygirl.com/girls-think-of-everything</p>
<p>For Mighty Girl stories about the challenge of being homeless, visit our "Homelessness" section at http://www.amightygirl.com/books/social-issues/homelessness</p>
<p>For stories about the value of giving to others, visit our "Generosity/Charity" section at http://www.amightygirl.com/books/personal-development/values?cat=317</p>
<p>For those in the US who would like to support efforts to end homelessness, visit the National Alliance to End Homelessness at http://www.naeh.org/ or to find a local homeless shelter to support in your area, visit http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/
 
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Ontario Chamber of Commerce: Business to Government: Bring Predictability to Minimum Wage

Posted: 19/09/13

TORONTO, September 11, 2013: Businesses want the Ontario government to adopt a predictable, transparent, and fair process for determining Ontario’s minimum wage, according to a new report released by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC).

The report calls on government to introduce a new process that would link changes in the minimum wage rate to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), an economic indicator that captures changes in the cost of living.

Currently, Ontario’s minimum wage rate is determined by the government on an ad hoc basis and through unspecified criteria. This method results in sudden increases in the minimum wage, and unfairly exposes employers to unanticipated increases in the cost of doing business.

“We’ve considered all the options at Ontario’s disposal,” said Allan O’Dette, President & CEO of the OCC. “Tying the minimum wage to the CPI will bring predictability to the process. It will allow businesses to plan for increases in their labour costs and protect the long-term purchasing power of workers earning minimum wage.”

Though supportive of regular increases to the minimum wage, the group cautions against temporarily adopting a formula that would see rates outpace inflation.

“We’ve seen convincing evidence that major hikes in the minimum wage will have adverse effects on employment levels, particularly among youth and in Ontario’s retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors,” says O’Dette.

The report is based on extensive consultations and surveys with employers from across Ontario. Its release comes as Ontario’s Minimum Wage Advisory Panel begins its consultations in communities across the province.

Read the full report here.

KEY FACTS:

In a recent OCC survey, 60% of employers in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors say that an increase in the minimum wage will hurt their businesses and force them to lay off employees.

Ontario’s minimum wage of $10.25 is above the national average and the highest in the Great Lakes Region.

The minimum wage in Ontario has increased 50 percent over the last 10 years.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce consulted with over 1,200 of its members from across the province to formulate its position on the minimum wage.

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact:
Neville McGuire
Manager of Communications, Ontario Chamber of Commerce
T: 416.482-5222 ext. 2410
E: nevillemcguire@occ.on.ca

Put Food in the Budget campaign – World Hunger Day on Tuesday May 28

May 31, 2013

The Put Food in the Budget campaign organized a unique event to recognize World Hunger Day on Tuesday May 28.

The Put Food in the Budget campaign has learned over the course of our campaign that hundreds of thousands of people are hungry at every stage of life in Ontario because their income is too low. They don’t have enough money to pay the rent and buy food.

Front line workers from public service unions and student, worker and volunteer associations told an audience of high school students about people they serve that do not have enough income to provide nutritious food to their families.

The over-riding message from these stories is that people in Ontario now can literally be ‘Hungry for Life’. ‘Hungry for life’ has two meanings. Young people in high school are on the brink of beginning their adult lives. We all want our young people to thrive and to be hopeful about the future. We want them to be ‘hungry for life’ – we don’t want them to feel hopeless or to fear the future. In workshops this afternoon we will talk about the reality of poverty in Ontario, and talk about how together we might ‘unveil opportunities for hope’.

Diego, a student in the audience, responded to the panel’s presentation by saying ‘We all need to eat, food is a human right.’

The Ontario government does not have a serious strategy to end poverty in Ontario. The proposed welfare reforms in the recent Ontario budget are neither fundamental nor far-reaching as some would have us believe. The current rates for social assistance and the current minimum wage in Ontario ensure that people in Ontario with low incomes will continue to starve.

Premier Wynne’s proposed welfare reforms are inadequate. Premier Wynne must

‘Put Food in the Budget’ by raising social assistance rates and raising the minimum wage to ensure people have enough money to buy healthy food without relying on food banks.

 

The Toronto Star published two articles on the Put Food in the Budget event.

You can read them here.

Toronto students learn local connection with World Hunger Day –

Toronto high school students get lesson in the politics of hunger

 

It’s More Than Poverty Report – February 2013

Read+the+full+report+-+It’s+more+than+poverty

Latest United Way Toronto report voices the concern that employment pracarity – employment that does not offer security or benefits – is affecting household stability. The report shows that employment insecurity has an independent effect on household well-being and community connections, regardless of income. These precarious employment relationships are being the “new normal” in our workforce.