We founded Groundswell (  in 2013 as a response to the very clear need, articulated by, for, and about young people for economic alternatives to confront the social isolation, economic precarity, debt and disengagement so many youth today encounter. Our proposal to create a training institution for independent, sustainable and community-based work that contributes to the greater good was met with gratifying enthusiasm and support.

The result is the Groundswell Education Society and the Groundswell Community Cafe, a two-pronged initiative that is part of an evolving social movement of innovative economic thinking with an ethos of commonality and social responsibility.

The first piece of Groundswell is an eight-month training school primarily for low-moderate income and immigrant youth under the age 35 to develop the skills to build sustainable enterprises, including but not limited to co-ops, self-employment, social businesses, collectives, non-profits and other grassroots economic configurations.

The second piece is the Groundswell Community Café – opening in August 2014 – which will act as an innovation lab for participants and will actively demonstrate how a business can target social good while maintaining economic sustainability. During the day the space will be a café and the evenings will be devoted to events, workshops, meetings and community gatherings.

We have been thrilled at how much excitement this project has generated. We were met with an overwhelming response when we first opened  our plan is to gradually expand over the next 3-5 years to serve up to 60 participants annually. Critically, our vision for Groundswell is to work with all graduates on a long-term basis to establish a lasting and supportive network of community enterprises.

It is a pretty exciting project working out of some beautiful spaces in the DTES. Do come check us out: online or for real.

Matt Hern