National Nonprofit Day: It Takes a Village

By Julia Blackburn, August 17, 2023

August 17th is recognized as National Nonprofit Day, a time to acknowledge and celebrate the ongoing efforts of nonprofit organizations to serve their community and improve the lives of those that live in it.

At NPower Canada, our mission is to create pathways to economic prosperity and improve the lives of Canadians by addressing the digital skills gap and lack of access to sustainable employment. Our model is very much based on an “it takes a village” approach. We believe that good workforce development requires community partnerships, cooperation and commitment. Especially between the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Our model is in many ways classic workforce development. We act as the bridge between supply and demand – supply of unemployed youth and adults with barriers to employment – and demand of employers with junior level jobs that require IT and digital skills. We create opportunities for individuals from underserved groups – such as women, BIPOC, LGBTQ2S+, Indigenous peoples, individuals with disabilities, and newcomers – to obtain the skills required to obtain meaningful and sustainable employment, so that they can better support themselves, their families, and their communities, and alleviate inter-generational poverty.

It sounds straightforward enough, but that bridge must be supported by community and government – without their support, the model doesn’t work. The bridge doesn’t hold.

Our national employment strategy is only possible thanks to a much wider community of partners and volunteers who dedicate their time and resources to support our mission. A phrase you will often hear me say is that it takes a village, and today, on National Nonprofit Day, I also want to recognize all of those who contribute to NPower Canada’s village.

Our Funding Partners contribute their time and resources to support the aspirations of our barriered job-seekers. Their investment in our nonprofit organization is what makes it possible for us to offer our programs at no cost to participants, and enables our expansion efforts.

Our Employer Partners provide insight into industry needs so that we can adapt our programs to ensure participants are equipped with the most-in demand skills. They also provide our graduates with employment opportunities, which often represents our graduates’ first tech job or first job in Canada.

Our Corporate Volunteers dedicate their time to participate in events, speed networking, and mentorship opportunities, to impart their expertise and experience to our job-seekers and help them build a professional network.

Our Community Partners help us spread the word about our program and provide wraparound supports to ensure participants have access to resources that address challenges that interfere with their progress in the program or life.

Our Board of Directors provide essential strategic leadership and oversight that guides our growth and contributes to our stability and success. I learn so much from them and value their insights and support.

And lastly, our staff, dedicated and hard-working individuals who inspire me on a daily basis. I am so proud of the growth I have seen in our staff, and the unwavering support and dedication they give to one another and our community.

Each of these groups deserve recognition on National Nonprofit Day, and every day, for their invaluable contributions to our mission.