Ignite Adult Learning Corporation: Empowering Regina’s Youth
July 28, 2017
How do we build safe, inclusive communities?
Ask Carlo Bizzarri, founder and program manager of Ignite Adult Learning Corporation. A generous man with an unwavering passion for people, Bizzarri has been empowering Regina’s youth for over two decades.
“Young people are our future,” he states matter of fact, discussing the critical issue of at-risk youth with a level of depth and understanding that is only acquired after years of experience. “Condemning people does no good. At Ignite, we ask questions: what do young people need to become independent? What skills do they need to put money in their pockets?”
Ignite Adult Learning Corporation is a hidden gem of its kind. A tier two private vocational school unique to Saskatchewan, Ignite is committed to employing marginalized young adults. The organization focuses on breaking the cycle of poverty, working closely with the city’s most vulnerable to equip them with the necessary tools to lead productive, self-sustaining lives.
Ignite was founded in 1990 under the name Multicultural Enterprises Inc. in response to a call for proposals from the Government of Canada to address the growing concern of at-risk youth within the country. “It’s a business approach to social issues,” Bizzarri explains, “rather than having people in distress, unemployed or in jail, let’s have them be productive.” In 1995, Multicultural Enterprises Inc. changed its name to Regina Adult Learning Centre Inc., and in 2012 rebranded to what is now Ignite Adult Learning Corporation.
Ignite offers a 43-week program that consists of a variety of components, including academic courses supplemented with activities that build practical experience and personal responsibility. The participants are known as employee/apprentices and are hired by Ignite full-time. For the duration of the program they punch clock every morning, Monday to Friday, and are paid at a minimum wage rate or given an allowance. Approximately 75 people apply to the program each term, and from that batch 21 are accepted. The participants are expected to display the highest levels of maturity and accountability.
“It’s not school. It’s an experience, an experience of something better,” says Terina Shaw, Ignite’s fundraiser and corporate liaison officer. All members of the Ignite team are equally as passionate about dismantling socioeconomic barriers that impede Regina’s youth, asserting that education is key when it comes to making change within communities.
Through Ignite’s program, the employee/apprentices have the opportunity to take advantage of academic upgrading (such as completing their GED 12); as well as develop their skills in a variety of unique courses. During the 43 weeks, they will learn how to use Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, strengthen their communication abilities through reading, writing and public speaking exercises, as well as become proficient in QuickBooks, money management, and other areas that will prepare them for employment, such as building resumes and practicing interviews. With the support of Ignite staff, the employee apprentices then use the last six weeks of the program to secure entry level jobs at places such as crown corporations and other businesses.
Ignite is currently holding a Twilight 10 kilometer run in collaboration with STARS air ambulance that will help keep both organizations operating at full capacity. The run will take place on Sunday, August 13th at 7:30 pm in Wascana Park. Registration is $70 and individual, relay team and virtual options are all available. There will be a BBQ to follow.
To learn more about Ignite Adult Learning Corporation, to find out ways to get involved, or to register for their Twilight run visit their website at www.ignite.ca.