Tuesday June 14, 2016 

School News

Rick Hansen School Tops Co-Op Competition 

Tri-mentorship teaches kids business skills

Tashon Ziara, Prospera


Rick Hansen Secondary teacher Michelle Myers (left) is joined by students Jessica Daveshar, Amanjot Dhaliwal and Manjot Dhaliwal, as well as Co-ops in Schools program director Tasha Nathanson and Prospera Credit Union’s Sundeep Sandhu.


iving youth the opportunity to learn about co-operatives and how they contribute to strong local economies as well as gain practical business skills;  these are the primary objectives behind the BC Co-operative Association’s new Co-ops in Schools Program (CIS).


The CIS youth outreach program takes place throughout the school year in selected regions of BC and utilizes an innovative tri-mentorship model to link the co-operative business sector with both universities and high schools to raise awareness around the co-operative economy and provide youth with professional development opportunities as well as career insight and practical skills and knowledge.


CIS also gives professionals working in the co-operative sector the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience by engaging them as “mentors” to university students and in turn, the post-secondary “mentees” share what they are learning with high school students through extra-curricular Co-op Clubs.


The tri-mentorship model provides unique benefits for each group: co-ops and credit unions become closer to their communities and develop stronger relationships with area schools; post-secondary students develop new skills and a deeper understanding of the co-operative business model; and high schools students develop new skills and take part in activities that enrich their knowledge of how co-op businesses operate.


A highlight of the program is the Case Co-opetition, in which Co-op Clubs across the province are challenged to select from a list of real cases submitted by BC co-ops and credit unions and develop the best alternative to solve a business challenge. Abbotsford’s Rick Hansen Secondary team, made up of students Jessica Daveshar, Amanjot Dhaliwal and Manjot Dhaliwal, and guided by Michelle Myers (the school’s Career Programs Facilitator), chose the Wood Shop Workers Co-op as the focus of their entry.


The co-op was looking for ways to grow revenue while maintaining their commitment to social and economic justice. Coached by University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) business students Katherine Levett, Sundeep Johal, Michelle Ndizeye, Nicole Noort and Caitlin O'Donaghue, the Rick Hansen team won first place in the challenge in addition to receiving the “Think Outside the Box” award.


Regional program sponsor Prospera Credit Union provided mentorship support for the five UFV students who participated in the inaugural program year by matching them up with Prospera mentors, including: Regional Manager, Brenda Monk; West Oaks Branch Manager, Steven Lang; Wealth Management Specialist, Shaun Ludwar; Senior Vice President of  Marketing & Communications, Sundeep Sandhu; and Marketing Database Analyst, Jeff Sawyers.


“The BCCA is grateful to Prospera Credit Union as well as the other co-op and credit union regional sponsors that not only took the leap to fund a new kind of program but also provided mentors for every single university student in the program across the province,” said Tasha Nathanson, BCCA’s Youth Program Director. “Prospera was the first to agree to support this project, assuring that the program was provided in Abbotsford and inspiring others to sign on across the province. We are also thrilled to bring the sector together in an educational approach that resonates with students and schools and introduces them to the co-op economy as consumers, job applicants and co-operative entrepreneurs at a point where they are making important career and life decisions.”


“Co-operatives have a strong history both in BC and across Canada, but it’s not something that is given a lot of attention in schools,” Sundeep Sandhu, Prospera’s Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications. “So we were pretty excited about the opportunity to introduce young people to a business approach that is not just about being profitable, but also on people helping people and working together to make life in our local communities better for everyone.”


To learn more about the Co-ops in Schools Program, please visit the website: www.bcca.coop/pages/cis-program-introduction.


About Prospera Credit Union

Building on more than 70 years of history in British Columbia, Prospera Credit Union is proud to be a member owned co-operative with operations from Vancouver to Kelowna. As a full service financial institution that prides itself on building relationships, we serve our members through sixteen branches; online and mobile banking; and a locally-based contact centre. Through our membership in The Exchange network, our members enjoy access to more than 3,300 surcharge free ATMs across Canada (that’s right, no ATM fees).


Making life better for everyone is important at Prospera. With an extensive community investment program devoted to supporting the organizations, events and volunteers that make our communities stronger, Prospera makes a meaningful difference in the financial well-being of our members and our communities. To learn more, check out Prospera’s YouTube channel and Facebook page or visit the credit union’s newsroom online at prospera.ca.


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