Spotlight on IRP Recipients: Sage Seniors Association

Spotlight on IRP Recipients: Sage Seniors Association

The Investment Readiness Program is a Government of Canada program. As the Government of Canada explains: “The Investment Readiness Program (IRP) is a 2-year $50 million pilot program designed to help advance Social Innovation and Social Finance (SI/SF) in Canada by building on existing supports to help catalyze community-led solutions to persistent social and environmental challenges. The pilot will provide a learning opportunity to inform future direction on how best to support and mobilize the social finance sector.” Learn more here.

This blog series by the Trico Charitable Foundation spotlights successful grant recipients of the first IRP round of grants who reside in Alberta or have received the Social EnterPrize. The goal of this series is to help inspire, inform, and nurture the ability of social entrepreneurship to close the gaps in Canadian society.

According to the Government of Canada, by 2030 seniors will number over 9.5 million and make up 23 percent of Canadians. Unfortunately, many seniors are at risk of social isolation, victimization, and lack of support. Sage Seniors Association (Sage) has made it their mission to inspire and support seniors to be the best they can be and have been providing programs and services for seniors in the Edmonton area since 1970. Beth Mansell, Strategic Initiatives Manager of Sage explains they first heard about the IRP funding though the Imagine Canada newsletter.

As a successful recipient of the first round of IRP funding, Sage is using their funding towards feasibility and business planning for the implementation of sliding-scale, fee-for-service, financial and personal decision-making assistance services related to guardianship, trusteeship, powers of attorney, wills, and personal directives. Beth explains:

“When we are talking about social innovation and social enterprise, there are very limited opportunities for non-profits and charities to apply for funding and to take a risk to look at whether or not things are going to be feasible. Our project is a feasibility study to see whether or not we can generate enough revenue from a program like this. We get funded for a lot of direct social service work and events that we don’t really get the opportunity to take the time to dive deep into something like a feasibility study, because we just don’t have the resources or the funds to be able to do that.”

The IRP grant has already proved to be an interesting process for Beth and the team because in doing the feasibility study they have been able to connect with a third party service provider that has the expertise to work through the process. Beth says:

“It’s almost like capacity building internally to really gain more of an in-depth understanding about social innovation, social enterprise, all the components that need to go into a really robust feasibility and business plan to be able to create these types of programs.”

Sage believes there is a big need for the social enterprise they are envisioning. Beth says:

“Being able to fill those gaps from existing community based organizations, as opposed to looking to the private sector to always fill those gaps is something that we’re really passionate about at Sage. Being able to find an appropriate model for a middle ground that people can trust, that is a community based organization that can offer some kind of sliding scale, so that people that are lower resourced and don’t have the funding to pay for that could access it for free is vital.”

Looking to the future, Beth is excited to be able to start important conversations and talk to people in the community. Beth explains that this experience has been a terrific opportunity to build different connections and partnerships.