UforChange is a nonprofit organization for youth ages 16-29 living in St. James Town & Regent Park in Toronto. The program integrates arts education and culture to grow community and improve livelihoods.
The Creative Culture Studio provides professional video production services. Our team of professional directors, cinematographers, and videographers lead and mentor a talented team of graduates from the UforChange Film & Video Workshop to produce professional grade videos for businesses and organizations across the country. The studio provides invaluable experience for youth who wish to increase their skills as they pursue careers and educational opportunities within the video and film industries.
UforChange started as a federally-funded project supported by many community stakeholders. UforChange knows that by promoting and nurturing a strong, creative culture, we can create a better world. UforChange works with new Canadian and low-income youth ages 16-29 from Greater Toronto Area to inspire them and give them the tools to succeed by providing support and resources to pursue higher education, volunteering, job shadowing and/or employment opportunities. Although we are close to the St. James Town and Regent Park communities, we are open to the whole city. We connect youth with professionals, artists, and community leaders who help them to use the arts as a vehicle for economic, cultural and social change.
Our social enterprise originated from UforChange’s film and video production program, in which professionals taught youth keen on learning skills like operating digital cameras, lighting, editing videos, etc. As our partners in the nonprofit and corporate sector expressed interest in contracting UforChange to produce short videos for their organizations, we found that videography was in high demand, making it much more commercially viable than many other art productions like theater or DJ services.
Our social enterprise – The Creative Culture Studio – was created in 2011 by a team that included a professional videographer who also instructed our classes for youth. Since the beginning, UforChange provided equipment, and staff helped with all issues involved in start-up.
The first years were mainly education-based. Bringing on Prince’s Charities Canada had great impact on our organization: with Prince Charles’ visit to UforChange in 2012, we gained international attention that benefited our marketing. We made some great connections leading to a large agreement contracting us to produce over 100 videos in the year 2012-2013. As things progressed, we did a lot of work in years 2013-2014; being able to secure several clients that gave us opportunities to generate significant revenue and build up our portfolio.
In the year 2012-2013, we were intensively working on the large contract that required us to produce over 100 videos. Since then, we have diversified our revenues, doing both small and large works for various clients in nonprofit, academia, and corporate sectors. Our contracts range from $5,000 to $25,000. The Creative Culture Studio averages about $90,000 in revenue annually
Compared to traditional businesses that hire the best professionals, our mandate has always been to engage youth. This creates challenges as the young people we hire for our projects often have experienced trauma and various barriers, and some lack the experience, soft skills or attitude required in most workplaces.
As a charity, we are also restricted in commercial activities. The Creative Culture Studio social enterprise is a social impact element of our organization. Most regular businesses do not have to be as heavily audited or accountable as charities like us.
Make sure you get proper legal and accounting support. Our Board of Directors provided assistance at no charge.
The Creative Culture Studio social enterprise is part of UforChange. Legally, it is considered a program of the charity. We structure our revenue so that it remains a nonprofit.
Throughout UforChange’s history, we have been supported by numerous community partners. Many clients have come through our network.
Also, film and video production professionals have helped us develop a curriculum and improve techniques around teaching. We were lucky to recruit people who understood our social objectives and what we try to do.
Impacts & Outcomes
Working at our social enterprise, young people get to experience the real world. It is an amazing opportunity for them to feel how it is to be in the workforce and develop film and video production skills. The business also positively impacts our social cause because we build more awareness about our mission, which sometimes even attracts corporate donor opportunities for our charity.
Vision for the Future
We are restructuring our organization and focusing business. We continue to do work on a one-on-one basis, but also want to re-assess the viability of our social enterprise, such as, what are the benefits for the organization and youth.