C Returns makes home and building renovations – green renovations — easy. No longer does a home owner have to become an energy efficiency expert to renovate to save money on energy costs down the road. C Returns can provide a certified audit of a building, find and supervise the right contractors until the job is complete, and even apply for any rebates that might be available from governments and local utilities.
Although builders are increasingly looking at implementing green technologies into new building construction, existing buildings account for 39 per cent of North American carbon dioxide emissions. By the year 2050, it is estimated that 80 per cent of today’s building stock will still be in use, and will account for the bulk of the building-related greenhouse gas emissions. C Returns’ mission is to ultimately change the carbon footprint of existing buildings.
SEF provided start-up capital to C Returns.
The Calgary Opera works with magic — the magic of story woven through big voices and stunning visual productions. The company has made a special name for itself by its dedication to development of young Canadian talent, and by playing an active role in commissioning new works based on Canadian and Albertan stories. In addition to a main stage season with about 3,400 regular subscribers and sold out performances, Calgary Opera produces everything from school programs to an outdoor summer opera festival.
SEF supported Calgary Opera with development capital.
The Centre for Race and Culture offers a range of training, research, community programs and consulting services to further its mission of creating a more inclusive society. After many years of working with public sector institutions and corporate clients, and in response to growing demand for the Centre’s expertise in addressing the complex issues of diversity and inclusion, the organization has taken the step to organize its fee-for-service arm in a more entrepreneurial way.
CRC Consulting will focus on expanding the reach of the Centre’s services to the many corporations and organizations seeking expertise in the diversity field, earning revenues that can help support the broader work of the Centre.
SEF provided operating capital to CRC to execute its marketing plan and expand its customer base.
“Equality in employment will not happen unless we make it happen.”
— Judge Rosalie Silberman Abella
Citie Ballet has been entertaining Edmonton audiences for many years, but recently took an important new step – they became a professional company. With that move came new opportunities and challenges which they have been able to meet with the help of financing from the Social Enterprise Fund.
Edmonton’s only resident professional company, Citie Ballet mounts a vibrant program of neoclassical ballet, modern and contemporary dance. Not only do they explore the classical repertoire, they commission original work, including collaborations with other arts disciplines.
The company’s 2013-2014 season includes everything from an original ballet inspired by ancient cave paintings in France, to the opera Carmen and the choral work Carmina Burana.
Earth’s General Store
Looking for compost worms? Or a way to to lessen your environmental footprint through a new source of protein – say edible crickets perhaps? A way to consume less of the world’s resources through your daily consumption habits? Or maybe you’d just like some excellent tasty food for lunch, or to pick up on the way home for dinner. Then Earth’s General Store is for you.
Since 1991, Earth’s General Store has been the go-to place in Edmonton to find the toolsand knowledge to live a greener, more sustainable life – how to consume less, more wisely, fairlyand locally. The stores carry supplies for all aspects of your life, and in recent years have expanded to carry a wide array of food products, including fresh, packaged and frozen food products.
SEF provided financing to Earth’s General Store to open a new outlet in the heart of Edmonton, bringing their experience in making the world a better to place for the city’s downtown residents and office tower occupants every day. Stop in for lunch at the Organic Café housed in the 104th Street store – you just might become addicted to their hummus – not to mention the edible crickets.
Edmonton Heritage Council
Unless a community understands where it has come from, it probably won’t understand how its distinct personality came to be – or be able to create an inclusive future. The creation of that understanding is the mission behind the Edmonton Heritage Council.
The Council offers many ways to explore and broaden Edmontonians’ understanding of their city and its past, including the City as Museum project. Since heritage doesn’t lie solely within the walls of museums and in the hands of heritage professionals, the project works to find the city’s story in archives, neighbourhoods and in the ‘passion-projects’ of individuals and organizations that don’t necessarily identify as heritage workers. Dozens of Edmontonians have participated ‘mystery’ tours, where they visit unexpected spots around the city to learn about these unearthed stories.
SEF supported the Council through financing to improve and expand its operations through new office space.
The Edmonton Musical Theatre has over thirty five years of experience in putting passion on the stage. Whether you’re child, or only a child-at-heart, the society provides training and real performance experience on the stage. Their students have taken this passion for musical theatre to stages around the world, as well as creating appreciative audiences who know what it’s like to be on the other side of the footlights.
SEF provided bridge financing that helped the organization move to its new home in Edmonton’s Woodcroft Community Hall, as well as operating capital.
Edmontonians love their river valley, and for more than one hundred years, the Edmonton Ski Club has been at the centre of that love affair. After all, it’s not many cities that can boast a ski hill with runs to challenge skiers and boarders from bunny hill to black diamond just a few moments from downtown, and accessible by city transit. The club offers a full range of lessons and special events, equipment rentals plus a clubhouse where you can warm up and swap stories after your fun on the slopes. This non-profit organization has big plans for the future development of the site, confirming its position as part of the city for years to come.
SEF provided operating capital to ESC.
Evergreen Community Spaces
Many non-profit organizations dream of owning their own space, but few are able to make that dream come true. Calgary’s Evergreen Theatre is one of those few.
Evergreen is best known for helping kids discover science through the art of theatre. They present touring shows and school residency programs, puppet camp and delight audiences in the Big Green Puppet Bus. For a number of years they have also provided shared leased accommodation for other non-profits, an experience which inspired them to take the next step of owning their own building.
With the support of SEF, Evergreen has purchased a 24,000 square foot facility that will boast 24/7 access, ten flexible studios, offices, production and performance space, storage, props and costume workshop, a visitor lounge, prep/change area, and underground heated parking.
As described by Evergreen, “this project is an innovative venture: a community-centric, not-for-profit arts facility supported by Alberta foundations and endowments… this facility supports Evergreen Theatre’s mandate to promote the arts through space provision to artists and the greater community. We offer cost-effective spaces with the highest functionality possible.”
Although the building will not open until Fall 2015, it has already attracted eight additional full-time resident groups, with many more eager to be part of the fun.
Localize has set out to help food tell its story — so that the consumer can judge for themselves whether the item is truly the product of local producers. The Edmonton company works with grocers to clearly label local products through a detailed rating system based on location and ownership of the producer, sourcing of ingredients and sustainability. A QR code on the shelf label allows customers to use their smartphones to explore a full profile about the product and the producer. As Localize describes its mission, “we make it easy for grocers, producers and consumers to make the local connection.”
SEF provided Localize with development capital.
Metro Cinema is a community-based non-profit organization devoted to the exhibition and promotion of Canadian, international and independent film and video in Edmonton.
Housed in the historic Garneau Theatre just south of the High Level Bridge, Metro’s audiences might encounter a Harry Potter marathon (yep, all eight movies, come dressed as your favourite character) a hard-hitting documentary on a global crisis, or the premiere of a locally produced Alberta feature — all in the same weekend. SEF provided Metro with a loan to purchase equipment.
Arts Habitat of Edmonton, with the assistance of the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Arts Council, purchased the childhood home of Marshall McLuhan in the beautiful historic Highlands neighbourhood of Edmonton. Marshall McLuhan, who became a leading 20th century thinker, lived here as a child one hundred years ago. His early years significantly influenced his long-term philosophical theories, including “the medium is the message” and the global impact of mass media, which went on to shape the international community.
The purchase took advantage of the opportunity to honour McLuhan’s legacy in Edmonton by repurposing the property from a private residence into a contemplative centre for arts and ideas. Arts Habitat has located its offices in the home, and space will become available to artists, non-profit arts professionals and cultural industry professionals involved in the literary arts and creative thought.
SEF provided the mortgage for the purchase.
Art at its most significant is a distant warning system that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen.
– Marshall McLuhan
McKernan Community League
After years of work, and $1.9 million in renovations, the McKernan Community League has a very special new home in Edmonton. Not only did the league gain a lot more square footage to house a wide variety of activities, the renovation incorporated passive solar and geothermal elements that will help the building use less non-renewable energy for heating and hot water systems. It’s a long way from the original 1954 building, which had just a half inch of felt in the attic for insulation.
SEF provided a loan for a portion of the renovation costs.
Music is a Weapon — the name says it all — sees a world where music is the key to create community, communicate social or environmental messages and change the world. MIAW offers drumming workshops and interactive school residences, inspiring new musicians both old and young. The organization has recently taken a big leap in expanding its reach into school residencies across northern Alberta.
SEF provided MIAW with a loan to purchase equipment.
The Organic Box
If the old saying that “you are what you eat” is true, it would just make sense to try to find the best quality food that you can for you
and your family. That’s the central idea behind The Organic Box.
The Organic Box has grown in a few short years to become Edmonton’s largest organic food delivery service. The Edmonton
family-owned company serves thousands of families and businesses in this city each week, delivering everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to baked goods, milk and hundreds of other pantry items – all of it certified organic. Their aim is not just to find the best local producers and bring their food to as many families as possible, but to do it ina way that is sustainable, supports the local communities where the food is produced, and has no net impact on the environment. As the company’s owners, Danny and Miranda Turner, explain it, “it is not just about better flavour and nutrition. It is about being part of a food cycle that cares for people and the environment. The farmers that grow your food do not use dangerous chemicals. They use practices that with each crop improves the quality of the soil. This is the ethical way: keeping farm employees healthier and harmful chemicals out of the soil and the broader eco-system.”
The Organic Box has recently moved to a new 17,000 square foot distribution hub. Not only will this new space better serve the growing demand for their services, it will provide an operational centre for food trucks, farmer’s market vendor storage and small scale food producers. This provincially inspected facility will offer the benefits of shared resources, opening the door for new products and expanded production.
SEF provided financing to support the move to the new distribution centre.
You know you should be cleaning out that basement or garage, but why start when you can’t figure out how to haul away the junk? Or what to do with the stuff that your family has outgrown, but that might prove useful to someone else? In Edmonton, there is a non-profit social enterprise that will solve your clean up dilema, while helping to end poverty at the same time — Redemptive Developments.
Redemptive started in 2010 when three social workers at the Jasper Place Health and Wellness Centre, a front line social agency, understood that their formerly homeless clients needed more than just a roof over their heads. They needed meaningful, daily work to help maintain physical and mental health, as well as allieviating isolation. With many combined years of experience in the for profit sector behind them, the three created Redemptive Development.
The service started simply with a single truck and two staff, but has steadily grown to offer everything from junk removal during home and commercial renovations, to salvaging those items which might find a new home elsewhere.
SEF financing is supporting thecompany’s continued growth through the purchase of additional trucks, bins and equipment.
Startup Edmonton describes itself as “a campus, co-workspace and accelerator that kickstarts and activates local startups. Our role in the local startup ecosystem lies at the earliest stages, as ideas evolve into action, where startups form and gain initial traction. Our vision is to make Edmonton a hotbed for creativity and entrepreneurship. Our mission is to create collisions between developers, designers, creators, makers and entrepreneurs to activate a new generation of startups.”
In year one, Startup has created huge buzz in the city and around the world. There are 50 resident members at work in their space in the Mercer Building, and over 2,200 people have attended their events, hackathons, and launch parties. The enterprises launched through the space and its programs have already attracted thousands of customers and partners including Mozilla and Microsoft. Not bad for a social enterprise located in a one hundred year old warehouse in downtown Edmonton.
SEF supported the start of Startup through a loan to cover tenant improvement costs as well as operating capital.
For more about Startup, see There’s something going on at the Mercer Building, Business in Edmonton Magazine, November 2012
Sustainitech is in the matchmaking business — matching revolutionary, sustainable technologies with challenges faced by communities and companies across North America. The company grew out of its sister organization, Sustainival, when the potential of finding sustainable solutions in food production, energy sources and waste management for a wide range of clients became increasingly apparent. From sustainable agricultural strategies for First Nations communities, to developing indoor agriculture solutions allowing northern municipalities to producer crops year-round in Canada’s coldest climates, Sustainitech adapts technologies in a way that makes sense to their client’s bottom line.
SEF has provided Sustainitech with growth capital.
Running a festival or carnival is a little like creating a small, temporary city, with all the same challenges of power and water supply, or dealing with the trash. What better way to demonstrate the potential of alternate energy solutions than by creating 750 kilowatts of power to run a Ferris wheel or a Gravitron with the veggie oil left over from the French fry truck?
Municipalities have taken notice, and along with the fun of teaching people about living sustainably through the fun of carnival rides or eco-challenge events, Sustainival is taking on partnerships with small cities to transfer those energy solutions to local circumstances. A recent project centred on the use of waste heat to grow vegetables and farm fish through a process called ‘containerized aquaponics.’ And watch for the latest Sustainival event, the team ecochallenge “Green Beast” – coming to a city near you.
SEF has supported Sustainival with an operating loan to assist in the growth of all segments of its business.
For more on Sustainival, see Captain Planet, albertaventure.com, November 2012
Patrons of the Varscona Theatre in Edmonton’s Old Strathcona neighbourhood are used to the sight or the sound — water, dripping on the stage following the passage of a sudden summer storm.
The theatre, which began life as a fire hall, houses about 350 performances a year for 35,000 audience members – all in a converted 176 seat theatre. A small band of theatre companies work together in the space throughout the year, which is also “action central” during Edmonton’s annual Fringe Festival – the largest in North America. With a tiny lobby, too few washrooms and the challenge of building systems past their best-before date, a renovation was long over due.
After many years of hard work, the renovation began in spring 2015, with re-opening scheduled for spring 2016. And for the nostalgia buffs amongst you – they are keeping the beautiful internal brick walls, and the old fire tower. So it will be just like the old days, except better, and without the wait for the bathroom.
Verto Labour Services
Companies that hire Verto Labour Services are looking for a good day’s work – and that is exactly what they get. Eager young workers, trained in basic worksite rules, showing up on time, supported by a crew leader and ready to do whatever needs to be done. But what Verto’s customers often don’t realize that they have made an important contribution to turning around a young life.
Verto is an off-shoot of YOUCAN Youth Services, an organization that has provided programs for at-risk youth in Edmonton for over a decade. Believing that employment is one of the best ways to see at-risk youth move out of harm’s way and into economic independence, YOUCAN decided to take matters into their own hands and created the company Verto Labour Services Inc.
Verto, which is Latin for turn around or change, is seeing wins on all fronts. Their customers receive a great labour service, and some of the company’s profits will go back to YOUCAN to enhance its programs. The youth win by gaining real-life work experience, the first move towards a bright future. And unlike most employers, Verto can measure its success by one more unusual measure; namely how many of their employees are “stolen” and given full time employment by the companies that first contracted them through Verto.
SEF provided Verto with an operating loan to support the company’s growth.
Whitemud Equine Learning Centre
After decades housing horses and thousands of hours teaching kids and adults to ride, the riding arena and stables at the Western Equine Learning Centre are on their last legs.
There are not many cities that can boast a rolling horse facility on a historic farm right in the middle of the metropolis, and Edmonton is one of the lucky few. But the Western Equine Learning Centre (WELCA) is far more than just a home for horses. This non-profit organization is also the home of programs such as the Little Bits Therapeutic Riding Association, where children with physical and mental health challenges experience equine-assisted therapy. Local post secondary institutions partner with WELCA to give students experience in large animal veterinary skills. Each year thousands of Edmontonians attend special events at the Centre, such as show jumping or performances by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride. The centre also offers a restored 1918 log and stone house on the grounds for special events, board meetings and receptions.
WELCA has partnered with the City of Edmonton to build a new riding arena and classroom facility, with part of the financing for the project coming from SEF.
You might also like to see current and back issues of Portfolio, SEF’s periodic publication taking a look at our current clients. You can find editions in the Library section of this site.