Ever wondered how you could support ethical, sustainable businesses? Welcome to a regular series highlighting products, services and organizations that are ‘doing well by doing good’.

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Bright Endeavors is a social enterprise providing paid transitional employment to high-risk adolescent mothers, as part of New Moms, Inc.’s Workforce Development program. We caught up with Allie Sundet from the organization to talk about the great work they’re doing.

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How did you get started with this idea?

In 1983, our founder, Ellen Kogstad Thompson, noticed a growing problem in her neighborhood—teen moms with nowhere to call home, and no way to fund the expenses of their newborn children.  She purchased some diapers and formula, and began distributing them from the trunk of her car.

Nearly 30 years later, New Moms’ programming has developed as the result of organic growth, based on the evolving needs of these young families. As part of New Moms’ Workforce Development program, clients complete an 8-week paid transitional jobs at Bright Endeavors, manufacturing and marketing soy candles, in a small business setting.

What is the purpose of this organization?

Bright Endeavors transforms the lives of young moms by teaching these strong women to craft premium soy candles in a supportive, professional environment. Through our paid job training program, we provide the guidance and job skills young moms need to secure quality employment and begin on a path towards professional success.  

What are you proudest of?

At Bright Endeavors, we are part of a larger picture. New Moms, Inc. is our parent organization to help us go beyond a job training program. We are able to provide wraparound services to support 2 generations at once. We provide doula and early childhood services, housing services, and spiritual growth tools in order for a young mom to remain employed.

How do you think you are different to your competitors?

By investing in young moms with Bright Endeavors, you can touch the lives of two generations at once: the emerging life of a young mom and the unwritten story of her child.

What do your customers/community say about your organization that makes you happy?

Our customers love our mission, but they also love our candles. Through our job training program, we make high quality soy candles. We receive a lot of great feedback in regards to our packaging design, scent and quality of our candle.

We also offer a candle rental service where clients are able to rent glass votive candles for their wedding, shower or other events. “The glass candle votives add just the right touch to our space, we love them for any of our events!” -Michelle from Firehouse Chicago

What is your favourite story about your organization?

This story comes from one of our current employees, Jasmine:

“At Bright Endeavors, I gained on-the-job experience and saw potential in myself that I had never seen before – a career felt possible!

I became a mom at the age of 16. I didn’t know what kind of struggles I was going to face, but I made a promise to myself and my son that I would never give up. I joined the Workforce Development Program at New Moms, the parent organization of Bright Endeavors. A highlight of this program is a paid internship at Bright Endeavors. I gained so much confidence as I developed skills, not only in candle making, but also as a competent employee with leadership skills and potential to learn and grow in a work setting.

After my internship at Bright Endeavors, I went back to school and moved into my first apartment. I was fulfilling my promise to my son and I felt so hopeful about my future!

I now hold a permanent position at Bright Endeavors as a Production Team Lead, where I lead other young moms and mentor them in job skills and professionalism. I am on a mission to keep striving to exceed expectations! Because of Bright Endeavors I have achieved goals that take some people a lifetime to conquer.”

Where can people go to support your organization?

People can purchase candles at brightendeavors.org. 100% of the proceeds benefit our job training program. To support our additional services, people  can go to New Moms, Inc. to make a donation.

What are your plans for the future?

By 2020 we expect to serve 120 adolescent mothers annually in social enterprise jobs. 80% of participants who work more than 30 days at our transitional job obtain permanent employment, meaning in the next 5 years, 500 youth will obtain permanent employment.

Afdhel Aziz is the co-author of  book ‘Good is the New Cool’, a book on brands and social entrepreneurship available on Amazon now.

If you have a suggestion for a business or organization you think should be highlighted, please email him at goodisthenewcool@gmail.com

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