Kiri Bird (left), LEDlab manager, and Anna Migicovsky, LEDlab project coordinator and Beedie MBA candidate.

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RADIUS and Ecotrust Canada launch social-innovation lab in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

December 23, 2015
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By Ian Bryce

RADIUS SFU, a social-innovation lab and business incubator, has teamed up with Ecotrust Canada, an economic development charity, to launch the Local Economic Development Lab (LEDlab).

The three-year program will pair SFU graduate students with community organizations to collaborate on solutions that help  inner city residents improve their economic independence in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES).

Throughout the program, 30 interdisciplinary students will work with partner organizations in a practicum setting. Students will also draw upon Ecotrust Canada’s 20 years of economic development expertise and RADIUS' research and innovation capacity.

“The LEDlab intentionally inverts the traditional university research model by placing community needs first,” says Kiri Bird, LEDlab manager. “Our vision is for meaningful university-community partnerships to serve and enhance community-led solution building.”

LEDlab  has already partnered with several DTES businesses including the DTES Street Market, Potluck Café Society, The Binners' Project, and the Carnegie Community Center.

Anna Migicovsky, an MBA candidate, is currently completing her practicum through LEDlab. Working with Potluck Café Society, she aims to expand their employment model, which connects people who face barriers to employment with employers using social impact hiring strategies.

Migicovsky says that Potluck Café Society has successfully used this model for years. She has recently helped develop employment-readiness training workshops.

“We’re trying to teach skills on what it takes to keep the job,” says Migicovsky. “Skills like workplace communication, conflict resolution, time management, and computer literacy.”

Participants who complete the workshop also receive a reference.

The next step for Migicovsky and LEDlab is to find future employers wishing to benefit from this capable workforce.

Find out about more LEDlab projects and updates on its newly launched website.