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Sustainable and inclusive communities creating their own social, economic and environmental futures.

Community Social Planning Council

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Launch!: Youth Community Economic Development Initiative

This program of the Community Social Planning Council, in partnership with the Community Micro Lending Society, will give young people in the Capital Region the opportunity to create or scale up enterprises that create employment and contribute to community social, economic and environmental well-being.

The program is inspired by the many examples of youth led social entrepreneurship in our region and other places, through locally owned enterprises that create jobs, help young people create sustainable livelihoods for themselves and others, and harness their vision and passion for a more people and community-centered economy. Non-profit social enterprises, cooperatives, micro-enterprises, social purpose and social value businesses, green enterprises are a growing component of our regional economy, many of them led by or engaging young people who face the toughest transitions in our economy and labour market.

Want to register as a participant? Click here.
Interested in signing up as a program mentor or supporter? Click here.


The Community Council tested the idea for the project with two events in April 2011. One, “Doing It Better Together” profiled and explored innovative initiatives contributing to poverty reduction and prevention in the region. The event had a high participation of young people interested in networking and supporting social entrepreneurship. We also held a “Youth and Community Economic Development” workshop with twenty young people co-sponsored by a range of agencies interested in community economic development.

There was consensus by participants in both events that more needed to build on the assets of young people in the community as opposed to a “deficit” based approach that focuses on their deficiencies. There was also an interest in supporting Community Economic Development or CED as one approach to reducing poverty.

Community Economic Development: action by people locally to create economic opportunities and enhance their social and environmental conditions on a sustainable basis, particularly with those who are most disadvantaged.

Based on this feedback and the significant body of research supporting this approach, we partnered with the Community Micro Lending Society on a project to address the gap in programs and social infrastructure in the region, and to support healthy and sustainable transitions for young people into employment and self-employment.

The project:

  • Increases knowledge mobilization and networking capacity among young people regarding CED entrepreneurship.
  • Improves quality and delivery of orientation and training resources for youth in community economic development, social and green entrepreneurship.
  • Improves quality of youth entrepreneurs’ business ideas, business plans and marketing strategies.
  • Provides successful recognition, documentation and dissemination of youth creative and innovative social enterprises.
  • Improves coordination of services, access and referral to adequate resources for young people who want to become entrepreneurs.
  • Identifies and documents policy-development needs for social entrepreneurship by young people and produce recommendations for policy development.

The training program involves weekly evening sessions for participants over a three-month period.

To get involved in the program as a participant, mentor, trainer, sponsor or supporter contact Sarah at the Community Council 250-383-6166 ext 112 or

The program is supported by the Horner Foundation, Coast Capital Savings Credit Union, Telus, the Community Social Planning Council, the Community Micro Lending Society, and a number of individual young people committed to sustainable community economic development for the Capital Region.

Learn more about how you can support other CED initiatives in the region, such as our work to create a Community Development Investment Fund here.


Next Launch! program starts Spring 2013
Between 16 and 30? Want to start your own small business/micro enterprise? Register now for our Spring 2103 program. Over 14 weeks, you'll get the tools and guidance to launch your business. Along with a personal mentor, financial literacy training and staff support, you'll work in a group of peers as you develop, design and implement your small business ideas. At the end of this 14 week period, you'll have the opportunity to apply for a micro loan in order to finance the launch of your business. You'll also get ongoing support as you launch your business. Interested? Email or download the application here.

The LAUNCH! program provides:

  • Training and mentorship in community economic development, social entrepreneurship, and the development of viable local businesses.
  • Access to capital for new or scaled up business development.
  • Promotion and marketing, including a trade show, for social, green and micro-enterprises of participants and other locally-owned businesses.
  • A network for peer learning and business development amongst participants and other social entrepreneurs in the region.
  • Education and engagement young people on community economic development and social entrepreneurship.

Calling all Mentors: How it works

Mentorship is a cornerstone to the success of the Launch! program. We match program participants with entrepreneurs and leaders from the community who share their knowledge and time to ensure higher business success and personal empowerment. We welcome people with business knowledge and skills, motivational capacity, and passion for the community to join our team of mentors. For more information write to

Interested in contributing to this growing movement but can’t commit to mentoring right now?
We want to connect with local social enterprises, co-operatives and businesses who are doing community economic development (CED) in the region. We are also seeking community members with expertise and experience in community economic development and business planning that we can include in a developing technical expertise database that will be used to support CED initiatives in the community.

Launch! Community Workshops

Are you a community or youth-serving organization that would like to learn more about how youth are involved in creating economic change and sustainable futures? We deliver workshops for youth from 1-3 hours in length that explore: the importance of keeping money in the local economy, the global movement for sustainable social and economic development and poverty reduction, and how youth are involved in creating economic alternatives. The workshops are free to interested organizations. For more information, please contact

News, Resources, and Events

Learn more about the first Launch! entrepreneurs.

Youth in Charge: Leading Change through CED Project of the Canadian CED Network.
Read more here

Funding for this program generously provided by:



Coast Capital Savings Horner Foundation