Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is there support for start-up costs if making a product?

A: Absolutely! Many options exist for raising the initial seed money needed to purchase inventory, supplies and pay for various expenses. Many of these options will require the students to make a funding “pitch” to the person who controls the source of money. This experience is an integral part of the learning for the kids too. Consider a pitch to the school principal for a repayable loan from the school, or the parents association. Another option is for the kids to make Christmas cards and sell them for initial funding to bootstrap the money needed for buying inventory for the final product. Like any startup business … convincing people to provide cash is an essential business lesson - but students can start small to fund initial products and then selling those products at school pop up shops to other students and teachers can fund more inventory. Also, important to note that it is not mandatory to produce a product. Creating avenues for awareness of social issues, food drive, clothing drive etc. have all been done in the past. It’s about the learning and the process not about how much you can raise or produce. 

You can apply for seed money by completing the Experiential Learning Funding Application Form below. Consider inviting Neda Bernabo to your class so students can pitch their idea. Please note- all invoices/receipts (cannot exceed 5) are to be submitted to Neda Bernabo

Experiential Learning Funding Request Form - K-6

Experiential Learning Funding Request Form - 7-12

Q: Is this a set program or is it more about concepts and big ideas?

A: The availability of resources and support make it a “set program” but the social enterprise will unfold differently and organically for each class. You are not confined to the resources provided, but they are there if you need them to help support your big ideas.

Q: Timelines - do you do short term projects or long term?

A: Starting as early as you can is best. Again, the structure is up to you! Many choose to focus on one big product/awareness campaign/service for the year and often smaller components of the venture branch off as well. 

Q: How to keep kids engaged with only seeing gifted learners once a week?

A: This program should not only be for “gifted children”. Keeping kids engaged throughout the week can be relatively easy as the content touches on every part of the curriculum but this challenge is really left to the creativity of the educator.

Q: How can I apply this for our youngest students?

A: Check out the SEP site for Kindergarten Tips and Suggestions. Feel free to use and modify any of the content on this site.  Find google slide templates here. You may also find some of these primary resources helpful for organizing ideas. 

Q: How do you place the mentors with the schools?

A: Mentors apply and are vetted based on their experience and availability.  Matching is done by the school board team with consideration for the needs of the educator and location of the school and the residence of the mentor.

You are also welcome to find your own business mentor.  Teachers have also found success with community members or parents. 

Q: What is the role of the mentor?

A: The mentor role is a key element to the program. They bring their experience to managing businesses and guide the program so that students learn entrepreneurship. Mentors also demonstrate community support - through their engagement. Building a social enterprise takes a community! This program is about creating entrepreneurship through building a business - a social enterprise.  It is much more than a charity fund raising activity. It’s really important that your mentor be part of the process from the beginning. They bring a rich perspective, ideas and a focus on entrepreneurship. This is a true partnership. 

Q: If an educator cannot be paired with a mentor, can they still run the program? 

A: Absolutely… but every effort should be made to find a mentor if possible! Also, for large class sizes it can be helpful to have “Associate Volunteer Business Mentors” as well.  The associates can help by leading small breakout groups and may also have specific experience in areas such as coding, web design or other.  Check out the site to learn more about mentors.

Q: Has there been any interest with more than two classes in the school?  If so, do they all work collectively or separately?

A: Really how it works up to you! If multiple classes are interested in participating, there is no requirement that they must work collectively (though it is a great opportunity for Learning Partnerships!) Multiple distinct businesses in one school are definitely possible. Factors you may want to consider are the size of your school and resource limitations if you are looking at both selling a product or service to the same customers (those who elect to sell outside of the school, through Shopify for example, may not need to worry about this), coordinating fundraising event dates (some schools limit the frequency of these events). Many classes do choose to sign up with one (or even 2) “buddy” classes. This looks differently for everyone. Some classes choose to do all parts together, some choose to delegate and continue the learning once they separate. 

Q: Has anyone taken this on as an FSL initiative?  

A: Yes! Yes FSL initiatives with all French classes. Most charities or official Government contacts especially in Ottawa are bilingual. The process is unpacked in French and students reflect on the competencies and the design process n French.  

Check out the list of read-alouds, which include many French suggestions to support your Social Entrepreneur Project en Français.

Q: I would love to hear some feedback on anyone who worked with a high ELL population.  I can see multiple benefits for a diverse classroom.

A: There are SO many benefits for diverse classrooms! SEP supports vocabulary acquisition, oral language development, global connections and more! Here is some feedback from one teacher's experience with SEP with a high ELL population: 

The Children’s Support School I participated with was composed predominantly of new Canadians and ELLs. My Grade 1 class was 85% ELL with over a quarter receiving support.  From a Grade 1 perspective, the authentic motivation to read and write propelled our literacy development forward.  We partnered with a Grade 5 class in our school (which was also comprised of many English language learners); they demonstrated incredible leadership abilities. Our two classes hosted a Bazaar in the gym and students divided up to welcome visitors, answer questions, sell products, and provide awareness of our cause and charity (Ryan’s Well).  The program provided many of authentic target oral and written language experiences (selling and buying, persuading, contacting the charity, speaking with Ryan from Ryan’s well, leading/teaching/explaining to younger students, etc.) Many of our newcomers to Canada shared connections and insightful prior knowledge of global issues from their home countries. Throughout the Social Entrepreneurs Program, opportunities for vocabulary acquisition (both academic and “professional”), new learning, personal connections, excitement, and oral language were endless!

Q: Can this be done for complete virtual learning?

A: Yes it can be completed through virtual learning. When students have a purpose to find a problem to connect to the community they can virtually collaborate and create to problem solve.

Q: How will it look this year in middle school with half online and half face to face?

A: When students are presented with a way to connect to the community to problem solve especially with the pandemic they will find creative ways either at school or from the home environment. It might be sending messages which could be done in both environments. Finding support for creating cards, letter writing, contacting experts for more information on a product and offering suggestions.

Q: How does it look in the classroom vs distance learning?

A: Check out some of these example videos to get a better idea of how it might look in the classroom.