A key part of Eva’s is our Print Shop. It is a commercial printer and social enterprise that provides print and graphic arts training and life skills to youth experiencing homelessness and barriers to accessing housing. The Print Shop reinvests any profits back into our shelter system and the youth we serve.
The social enterprise provides a paid employment training course, where students learn about customer service, digital printing, bindery, clothing printing, large-format printing, prepress and graphic arts using Adobe Creative Suite. By the end of the course they are designing and producing items such as graphic decals, business cards, masks, logos, t-shirts, booklets and greeting cards.
A significant component of the program is job readiness. Unlike a regular training program, participants have the chance to work in a real business and get hands-on experience. “Once they have gone through the training, we’re able to see them put those skills into use right away at a very practical level,” says Jonathan Gault, Print Shop Manager. “We’re not just about teaching, but putting young people in positions to succeed.”
Participants work in all the different areas of the Print Shop. “The more the student is willing to do and the further they are willing to go outside their comfort zone, the more they will benefit,” says Jonathan. “We had one young lady recently that was exceptional. She contributed to all aspects of the social enterprise. For example, one day, she was out there getting sales. Another day she is putting together social media posts, and the next day she is helping to create new products.”
A couple of the participants recently played a huge role in designing new products that the Print Shop added to their roster, to help businesses protect their employees and customers during COVID-19. “We recently created pre-designed floor graphics and decals for our customers. They were designed and developed by both youth working here and Gavin Beven, the Instructor for the Graphic Arts program. Young people came up with the whole concept and images themselves,” shares a very proud Jonathan. “What’s great about Eva’s social enterprise is that it allows young people to give back and contribute.”
The program doesn’t end at graduation. Participants receive on-going support locating job placements and receive coaching even after they find work. Eva’s Print Shop estimates more than 70 per cent of its program students gain full-time employment after graduation. “I was very happy with my time in the program. I would definitely recommend it to others,” says Brenda, a graduate of the program. “Also, even after I left, the staff were nice enough to reach out and check on me. I really appreciated that.”
Another past participant shared that the greatest lesson he learned had nothing to do with print or graphic arts. “The program taught me that I can get over any obstacle that comes my way,” says A.J.
But not all the youth that participate in the program end up working in print. “For many of our youth, their lives have changed because of the life skills they learned.” says Jonathan. “Often, they end up pursuing higher education in the field, or studying something else completely. Others set up their own businesses. What they’ve told us though, is that that impact on their lives is tremendous.”