The reading partnership and the sector logos create a partnership

Connecting with the Right Partner

The Reading Partnership was introduced to The Sector through a recommendation from Ken Aucoin of Jump Math. We decided The Sector was the ideal partner based on their offer to assist with an Investment Readiness Grant application and provide guidance on using the grant funding effectively if awarded. Their expertise supporting social enterprises aligned perfectly with our needs. If you need help accessing to funding, click here.

Furthering Our Literacy Mission

Partnering with The Sector has proven invaluable for advancing our mission in several ways. It is identifying and exploring new revenue opportunities to sustain and expand our literacy programs long-term. Collaborating on the grant application enabled organizing our thinking and business plans to scale up impact. Partnering with The Sector helped us drive substantial progress by establishing a comprehensive growth plan. And connected us with potential funding sources.

Enhancing Programs in the Future

Looking ahead, we hope that collaborating with The Sector will soon help enhance our educational resources and extend our reach. Their guidance will be instrumental in executing our ambitious growth plans.

teacher teaching children how to read

Turning Goals into Reality

The Reading Partnership has big goals for the future, and our partnership with The Sector will play a pivotal role in achieving them. We want to improve our organizational structure and business planning capabilities, develop our intellectual property into revenue streams, and continuously improve our programs based on user feedback. This will ensure we meet families’ needs. As we scale our effective literacy programs through partnerships across Canada, clearly conveying our impact to potential funders will be crucial in securing their support. Furthermore, assembling an excellent team and leveraging technology will help streamline our operations as we continue to expand our reach.

The people at The Reading Partnership are thrilled to have The Sector’s expertise supporting us in turning these goals into reality. Together we can bring life-changing literacy opportunities to many more children and families nationwide.

blue door and the sector logos together

The Sector is proud to be supporting the great work of Blue Door’s Construct Program. Construct recruits, trains, and employs motivated individuals with barriers to employment to learn and work on-site with qualified trades people to prepare for a career in the construction industry. Construct works to meet construction needs with integrity, innovation and sustainability within a framework of inclusivity, diversity and opportunity.

  1. Addressing Inequitable Systems
  2. Construct leading social innovation
  3. Social innovation as a tool to create equitable careers
  4. Opportunities to Collaborate

Happy students in construction class

Addressing Inequitable Systems

Construct provides practical employment opportunities for individuals who face systemic barriers to securing stable incomes. These include people experiencing poverty, homelessness, mental health challenges, disabilities, and involvement with the criminal justice system.

By thoughtfully expanding training programs to the regions of Peel, Durham, and York, Construct is deliberately creating a more diverse and inclusive construction workforce. Historically, the construction industry has lacked diversity and inclusion.

The Construct program offers individualized supports tailored to each trainee’s unique situation and needs. This can include assistance with transportation, counseling, housing, childcare, and identifying other relevant community resources. Construct recognizes the great need for more diversity within the skilled trades. They also understand the importance of well-paying construction careers to improve economic security amidst rising costs of living.

students learning in construction class

Construct Leading Social Innovation

Construct’s national expansion model represents leading social innovation in the construction training and hiring space. The organization is creating positive systemic change by challenging the status quo with an inventive approach.

The Construct training program provides alternative and accessible education and training opportunities in the construction field. Skills-based, hands-on learning accommodates those without college educations or backgrounds in the trades.

Throughout the program, Construct identifies and addresses common barriers to securing and retaining employment in construction. Barriers can include lack of transportation, unstable housing, mental health struggles, limited skills training, and stigma. Construct’s innovative programming directly counteracts these obstacles through individualized support systems.

students building in construction class

Social Innovation as a Tool to Create Equitable Careers

With strategic national expansion, Construct aims to have the resources and capacity to facilitate placement into good-paying, unionized construction careers for even more program graduates. This prevents homelessness and provides economic security for marginalized individuals.

Specifically, Construct works to place trainees into well-paid jobs such as carpenters, bricklayers, electricians, plumbers, and general contractors. These sustainable career paths provide economic security and financial stability for marginalized individuals who face systemic barriers.

Many graduates have gone on to grow successful full-time careers in various construction trades. They gain access to union membership benefits, as well as increased earnings potential to support themselves and their families.

Broader intended outcomes include comprehensive program growth to transform hiring systems across the construction industry. Construct is demonstrating through example the positive impacts of inclusive, diversity-focused hiring practices.

When those facing barriers have access to skills training, mentoring, and job opportunities, it benefits both the employees and the industry. Construct is leading by example to make the entire construction field more equitable and accessible.

Opportunities to Collaborate

While innovating, Construct faces systemic challenges that collaborators can help address, such as:

  • Addressing unique barriers and reluctance to change hiring practices in the status quo construction industry. Construct must work to shift mindsets on inclusive hiring.
  • Reducing stigma around mental health disorders and criminal records that remains prevalent in construction culture. Discrimination persists against qualified workers.
  • Securing more internal organizational and external partner resources to fund expansion into more regions. Scaling requires increased funding.
  • Building partnerships with diverse community organizations to represent and reach the various populations Construct aims to serve. This enhances inclusion.
  • Forming partnerships with local colleges and unions to establish credentialing pathways and job placement pipelines. These partnerships are key to trainee success.
  • Raising more awareness of Construct’s work within both community organizations and the construction industry. This supports referrals and participation.

Construct invites collaborators across sectors to get involved in addressing these challenges and opportunities. With increased support, Construct can scale impactful programming, shift hiring practices in construction, and create more equitable access to careers.

The Bottom Line

Blue Door’s Construct Program exemplifies social innovation in action with its mission to provide inclusive construction training and employment for marginalized individuals. As Construct expands its impact nationwide, overcoming challenges through strategic collaboration remains key.

monark and the sector logos side by side, partnership

monark homepage image, girl with phone showing monark app

The Sector is proud to be supporting the great work of Monark

Founded in 2020 by Kelsey Hahn (CEO) and Amanda Julian (chief science officer), Monark is a mobile app that delivers personalized and on-demand leadership development programs.

Named after the Monarch butterfly and its four life stages, Monark strives to go beyond the traditional solutions offered by consultants, coaches, and business schools. Instead, it provides an integrated and customized experience for leaders at all levels.

Addressing Inequitable Systems

blue sky and sign held up that says "equal rights"

However, despite progressive strides in equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), women, people of color, and newcomers still face substantial roadblocks in rising to senior leadership roles. This barrier stems not from a lack of skill or ambition, but from existing corporate cultures that lack effective tools and data-driven methods to support emerging diverse leaders.

What is the Social Innovation

image of monark app

In response, Monark’s approach centers on a tangible solution. A digital platform designed to optimize leadership skills for new and emerging leaders at scale. Uniquely, it utilizes a blended model combining live cohort-based learning and a robust, machine learning-powered app with personalized micro-learning, nudges, and feedback to drive lasting behavior change. Research shows one-off passive courses fail on outcomes, whereas Monark’s ongoing, expert-guided cohorts enable accessible learning for all.

Fundamental to Monark’s vision is ensuring equal leadership potential for all. With businesses playing a pivotal role, boards and executives should reflect the diversity of their customers and communities. Therefore, Monark partners with organizations to integrate their offering into EDI strategies, improving business outcomes with a spectrum of skilled leaders at the helm.

What are the Intended Outcomes for Monark

diverse group of people in leadership meeting

With this approach, Monark anticipates transformative outcomes. Primarily, the expectation is that organizations will broaden the horizon of leadership training. Extending it to an even larger proportion of their workforce via Monark’s scalable approach. This includes a particular emphasis on those who have been historically underrepresented in leadership roles. As a result, individual employees will be empowered to undergo meaningful behavioral shifts, internalizing and exemplifying effective leadership practices. The ripple effects are manifold: a heightened employee experience characterized by longer tenures, increased engagement, and reduced burnout rates. Additionally, the fostering of a more inclusive environment paves the way for robust performance across the board.

The Bottom Line: Opportunities to Collaborate

Organizations that want to improve their leadership skills and include leadership training in their diversity programs should contact us. Monark believes that with teamwork, dedication, and new ideas, we can create a future where all leaders can thrive and make a difference.  An impact investors dream, per Crunchbase data, Monark previously raised $600,000 in angel investments in 2021. It is also backed by University of Calgary’s UCeed startup investment fund, a key partner of The Sector. It is our continuing honor to support these incredible social entrepreneurs along their systems-changing journey.

graphic of circular economy

By: Gurbeen Bhasin, MA, MSW (ED/Founder of Aangen: A Community Service Organization)



While studying my Masters in Social Work, I began to realize how the “system” was set up. If someone wanted to survive in the nonprofit or charitable sector they had to write grant applications, make sure all the reporting was done appropriately for the funder AND determine these grants “fit” with the grantee organizations goals and services. This was absolutely NOT how I wanted to live my life in this chosen profession.

The Need for a New System for a Circular Economy

I wanted to help the community right away when needs came up, not wait for funders and donors. I wanted to create a new system where the organization made enough money to support itself and respond quickly to needs. This was not easy but possible.

At the time, there was no name for this idea (now called a “social enterprise”). But I was determined to find ways a nonprofit could make money from products or services to support itself and address real needs in real time.

If you want to do this, first ask: “What product or service will the community need and buy that my organization can provide?” Next identify the need and customers. Then secure the supply chain and set competitive prices.

That’s the business side of the equation of a social enterprise. The other side is the service or support you and your organization are helping with.

This equation can be seen by looking at a bicycle. The front wheel is the business side of the equation, while support comes from the back wheel of the bicycle. In order to provide a service, an organization needs to generate income. To put it simply, they need to be in harmony with one another.

Social Enterprise Bicycle Model: Front Wheel = business / income generation Back Wheel = community service

bicycle with 2 wheels leaning against wall, symbolize circular economy

A Circular Economy: Supplying Meals to a Shelter

I can share a concrete example of how the social enterprise bicycle works and in fact how this led us to create a circular economy. In 2018, I was asked by a housing agency in Toronto if Aangen could supply meals to a respite shelter. Luckily, we had already been running a café and had relationships with local farmers and restaurants so we knew a bit about the food industry. We were able to respond to this need immediately.

Aangen sourced all the ingredients, hired a number of people and created about 1,000 meals a day ALL in a matter of a week’s time! This is the TRUE power of a social enterprise: the ability to mobilize resources and ACT in REAL time!

Let’s break this down into manageable bits so it’s easy to digest.

  1. Identify the situation: We need to make 1,000 meals a day.
  2. To address this situation, we need to:

    • Source raw materials through food rescue and purchases
    • Hire employees from agencies supporting those needing jobs
    • Obtain a kitchen space with the city’s help
    • Arrange meal delivery through a donor’s vehicle
    • Calculate costs versus revenue
    • Budget to generate a profit and reinvest into the community
  3. Identify allies: who’s doing this already that I know and can learn from?
  4. Figure out how to add ALL the principles and values of social enterprise to the equation.
  5. Build out the circular economy aspect of the model so it’s complete.

In a circular economy, nothing is waste. The circular economy retains and recovers as much value as possible from resources by reusing, repairing, refurbishing, remanufacturing, repurposing, or recycling products and materials. It’s about using valuable resources wisely, thinking about waste as a resource instead of a cost, and finding innovative ways to better the environment and the economy.

The Power of Aligning Social Enterprise Principles

social enterprise 4 p's

To create a circular economy, you need to understand your social enterprise goal and values.

We needed to make 1,000 meals daily. How could we do this?

For raw materials: What could we rescue rather than buy? We obtained unused food that would otherwise be wasted from grocers and food rescue organizations. After ensuring it was safe, we incorporated these ingredients into our menus. For any remaining needs, we purchased items and used reusable and recyclable materials to minimize waste.

For employees: We reached out to agencies helping newcomers, refugees and those needing job skills. This approach created hundreds of jobs!

For the kitchen: The City of Toronto helped us find an underused kitchen to use. A donor who owns a car dealership helped us get a vehicle for delivering meals.

We also planned to compost our own food scraps and share compost with partners who could provide more unused food.

Finally, we budgeted to generate funds for operations and programs.

Social enterprise and the circular economy empower people, planet, profit and purpose. Aligning these creates self-sustaining change.

The beauty of social enterprise and the circular economy is that you can create an incredible impact on so many fronts, but most critically: people, planet, profit and purpose. The alignment of these values is the KEY to generating self-sustaining change and true empowerment.

The Path Forward with The Sector

The Sector is currently working with Aangen to develop a data-driven business plan to be well-positioned for social finance opportunities. This plan will provide a case to expand its manufacturing capabilities that will achieve scale to serve a greater population to grow its impacts while achieving cost efficiencies. This enables Aangen to put its principles of being a “social enterprise” to practice – scale impact in a financially sustainable way!

The Sector is utilizing its expertise to structure the business plan with the information and analysis that demonstrate viable growth potential and opportunity to serve a wider population, which aligns with many impact investors’ due diligence requirements. Not only will Aangen produce a well-supported business plan from this process, it will gain knowledge and skills to build the capabilities required to produce this analysis on a go-forward basis. This will enable Aangen to continually explore social finance opportunities in the market.

Learn more about Social Enterprise + Circular Economy