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Centre for Peace Advancement has helped non-profits and businesses

By Mike Strathdee

As printed in The Marketplace - November/December 2017

Several registered charities — Pastors in Exile (an Anabaptist-rooted movement that connects young people in Waterloo Region with vibrant faith experiences outside and inside of church walls) and Theatre of the Beat (a travelling social justice theatre troupe) re-organized or developed their existing structure through work with Conrad Grebel University College’s Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement.

The incubator’s other participants have included:

• Demine Robotics (see pg. 13),

• Marlena Books, which creates reading material for individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia,

• The Ripple Effect Education (TREE), which develops and facilitates educational resources for elementary and secondary schools to create peace-literate citizens,

• Mennonite World Conference’s Peace Commission on efforts to develop a global Anabaptist peace network,

• Peaceworks TV, a non-profit organization that specializes in multimedia presentations and live events for elementary and secondary school students,

• Peace Pub, which explores bringing insights from the environmental movement to peace activism,

• EPOCH, which connects refugees to local communities through a skills exchange marketplace,

• A Waterloo chapter of the Intercultural Dialogue Institute, (IDI), a non-profit that aims to promote enduring interfaith and intercultural cooperation, tolerance and dialogue,

• IDI, along with Project Ploughshares and Tamarack Institute are tenants and affiliate members of CPA. The work of these three organizations meshes well with CPA’s mission, while the rent they pay helps support its operations.

CPA is one of many business incubator or accelerator programs in Waterloo Region. There are now six initiatives within University of Waterloo and related colleges that touch on social entrepreneurship. CPA, the Greenhouse at St. Paul’s College (pg. 16), Velocity (which bills itself as the world’s largest free start-up incubator), SEED (School of Environment, Enterprise and Development) at UW’s environment department, CBET (the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre associated with the university’s faculty of engineering), and the faculty of applied health sciences all have programs to encourage and develop young entrepreneurs. Nearby Wilfrid Laurier University also has a business incubator on campus, as does the local community college.

University of Toronto has 10 campus-linked accelerators. US campuses are increasingly offering similar programs. A recent CNBC.com story suggests many colleges outside of traditional technology centres are setting up incubators or innovation hubs to lure millennial students who are seeking support that will allow them to change the world and create their own job. ◆