This blog post will discuss the IDEA Centre student program and will also explain 3+’s involvement in the program.

The IDEA Centre is a co-op style program designed to develop student-led social enterprises and businesses. Its participants are students in grades 11 and 12 from the Anglophone East School District. The IDEA Centre replaces two of the students’ classes, and the students can choose two of the following credits to receive for participating in the program: a Co-op credit, a Marketing credit, a Leadership credit, a Business and Organization Management credit, an Economics credit, an Entrepreneurship credit, and a Personal interest 1 and 2 credit. The program is housed at NBCC’s Moncton campus. Although it was hard to go to schools and spread the word about the program due to Covid-19, the first full semester had a solid number of 14 students enrolled in the program.

The student-led businesses included businesses such as clothing brands, paintings, photography, music production, hair clips, a food business, a business trying to educate people on how to dropship. The student-led social enterprises included a social enterprise with the goal of educating about the importance of taking care of your mental health and raising awareness for eating disorders in sport, and a social enterprise with the goal of cleaning the shores in Shediac so that everyone can enjoy the beauty of its shores.

3+’s very own Vanessa Cormier played a significant role at the IDEA Centre. She provided entrepreneurship mentorship and advice to the IDEA Centre students, she coordinated the collection of business leaders, advisors, entrepreneurs, and mentors for the program, she provided source training courses / workshops / activities for the students, and she presented basic topics of business to the students. Vanessa says that the most rewarding part of her experience at the IDEA Centre has been seeing the students’ passion-fueled growth in a very independent environment in which students have free reign and are not micromanaged.

The program’s success is largely based on the collaboration of community organizations. The main organizations sponsoring the IDEA Center include 3 Plus Corporation, NBCC OASIS, LMI Canada, and Brilliant Labs. NBCC provides the facility, Brilliant Labs provides tech support and tech equipment, and funds tech-related projects, and LMI Canada offers high-level personal and professional development coaching to the students. The program is also made possible with the support of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and WorkingNB.

On May 27th, 2021, the Idea Centre Moncton’s first annual Pitch Fest took place. The students who were interested competed by pitching their social enterprises or businesses in front of a group of judges and observers. As Vanessa told us, the competition was an important experience for the students in that they were encouraged to step out of their comfort zones and practice their oratory skills. First place went to Evan Edwards, the entrepreneur behind a set of presentations targeted to parents and coaches that will be given in a workshop style. These presentations are intended to help more people understand the dangers of eating disorders in sport and learn about preventative measures. Second place went to Abigail Steen, the entrepreneur behind EssencebyAbby, a company that produces unique hydro dipped hair claws. Finally, third place went to Morgan Arbeau and Jenna Bastarache, the entrepreneurs behind Trendy Soul, an online urban thrift store based in New Brunswick, Canada. Their mission is to find fashionable preloved clothing to give a new outlook on stylish clothes and avoid fast fashion.

On June 3rd, 2021, a pop-up market took place at the Chocolate River Station in Riverview, at which the businesses of the IDEA Centre Moncton, as well as three other high school student-led businesses, were on display and sale for the public. The event, which was almost entirely organized by one of the students at the IDEA Centre, proved to be a success; there was a large turnout from the public and some businesses sold out of their products by the end of the event. As Vanessa tells us, the participating students were very happy with the pop-up market and seeing the students’ reactions to the support and interest of strangers at the pop-up market was her favorite part of the experience.

Overall, Vanessa thinks that the students involved in the IDEA Centre have very much benefited from the program from the skills they acquired from it. Such skills include: the power of positivity, self-awareness, organization, entrepreneurial spirit, autonomy, speaking skills, and confidence, confidence being the main skill learnt.

For anyone wanting more information on the program, check out the IDEA Centre’s website and Facebook page. Anyone wanting to be a mentor for the program is encouraged to fill out the contact form on the IDEA Centre Moncton’s website. Students interested in the program are encouraged to check out the IDEA Centre Moncton’s website and Facebook page, and to fill out a form on the website to set up a meeting with Vanessa and the teacher at the IDEA Centre (Gerard Reinders). In terms of criteria for students joining the program, all that is required is a means of transportation to get to the IDEA Centre (NBCC), and an entrepreneurial spirit.

Nicholas Caissie et Parker Barriault, 3+ Corporation