Partnership Learnings (2004–2009) This is when WE Day was conceived. We knew we wanted to create an event that celebrated the change-making achievements of young people. But how to ensure that every kid who deserved to be at WE Day could be there? By securing partnerships, we were able to make WE Day free for kids to attend. That was a big turning point for us. We learned that we could influence change by being selective about who we partnered with. If a company wanted to be part of WE Day, they had to meet our standards. With our ongoing expansion, the homegrown talent of the organization transitioned into specialized roles in business development, school relations, PR, marketing and other key operational areas. But they needed assistance from the outside world in the form of highly trained, experienced professionals to manage our rapid growth. So, we went to market to find seasoned talent—writers, graphic designers, IT experts and our first HR manager—with focused training and experience. Having outgrown our suburban house, we moved into our first real office space in downtown Toronto’s diverse Cabbagetown neighborhood.
Milestones D D The five-pillar WE Villages approach to sustainable development (then called Adopt a Village) is born in 2004. D D The first WE Day show is held in Toronto in 2007, with the mission of making caring cool; 6,700 students and educators attend. D D Canadian newspapers begin publishing our monthly Global Voices educational series. Global Voices will be picked up by more than two dozen additional newspapers in coming years and be used by some 10,000 educators. D D The 500th school built by Free The Children opens in 2007.
Support for employees D D Staff housing makes it affordable for new university grads to live and work in Toronto. D D We hire our first HR professional, introducing formal people-operations processes. D D Professional development for all employees. D D Management staff receive regular one-on-one coaching sessions. D D Health benefits added to staff compensation in 2006. D D Employee Assistance Program (EAP) introduced in 2008 to offer mental health, wellness and work-life balance services.
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