Beecuz, a nonprofit organization founded by Lena Schreyer, has been announced as the main recipient of the $20,000 Recovery & Rebuilding the Region Design Challenge Two.
Established in 2019 by a young female entrepreneur, Beecuz offers innovative, skill-based workshops and educational curricula to support youth with the tools they need to proactively address and care for their mental health.
This critical need has emerged as youth and children are disproportionately affected by mental health challenges due to COVID-19, referenced in this article by Children’s Mental Health Ontario, along with new data shared by the Canadian Mental Health Association predicting a serious mental health crisis following the impacts of COVID-19.
In addition to the $20,000, the successful applicant will receive a personalized suite of business advisory, financial coaching and community impact services presented by Libro Credit Union, Pillar Nonprofit Network and TechAlliance. Both Design Challenges are co-presented by Communitech, in Waterloo Region, and WEtech Alliance, in Windsor-Essex.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a year since Beecuz was incorporated. So much has happened in such a short time! This is an important and exciting milestone for our organization,” said Lena Schreyer, Founder and Director of Beecuz. “Now that we’ve won this Design Challenge, we can grow our classroom model to an online platform, increasing accessibility of our services beyond Kitchener-Waterloo and London with the potential to bring mental health programming to all schools across the province.”
This report, authored by the Mental Health Commission, speaks to how marginalized groups are harder hit by social determinants associated with mental health and economic difficulties in the face of COVID-19.
That’s why Lena Schreyer, who has a background in neuroscience, positive psychology, and mental health advocacy, hopes to use the coaching supports from the Design Challenge partners to ensure Beecuz continues to be inclusive, diverse, and accessible for everyone.
The social media buzz of the Design Challenge sparked interest from a private donor who contributed $5,000. This was awarded to The Working Centre located in downtown Kitchener, who the partners felt would benefit from the support and recognition.
The Working Centre has been responding to unemployment and poverty in downtown Kitchener since 1982. The Design Challenge funds will be used to support Project 4000, a collaboration between engineers, horticulturalists, and community leaders to apply tech innovations in agriculture to grow 4,000 servings of produce in two shipping containers, create new jobs in the region and create profit to support their community rebuilding efforts.
“Over the past few months, we watched the negative economic impact of COVID-19 cause families in our community to make decisions between eating healthy or paying for rent. We see the ability to more efficiently produce microgreens and seedlings as a necessary step towards increasing our production of local nutritious produce. This contribution from the Design Challenge allows us to accelerate the project while offsetting our environmental impact.” Joe Mancini, Director of The Working Centre.
These collaborative solutions selected by the Design Challenge partners will work towards rebuilding the region from the impact of COVID-19 on jobs, food accessibility and mental health.
Read the full announcement here.