Rise and Bell Let's Talk empowering entrepreneurship for Canadians with mental health and addiction challenges

  • $1 million donation will enable Rise to engage even more Canadians with mental health and addiction challenges in entrepreneurship training, mentorship & lending
  • Rise's largest ever corporate gift is also supporting the organization's expansion into Manitoba with the launch of Rise Winnipeg

TORONTO, May 4, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ - Rise, which provides individuals experiencing mental health and addiction challenges with access to low-interest loans to help launch new businesses, today announced a five-year, $1 million gift from Bell Let's Talk to build more local small businesses and empower Canadians affected by mental illness and addictions towards greater social and economic well-being.

"On behalf of everyone at Rise, I want to thank Bell Let's Talk for this generous gift," said Rise CEO, Lori Smith. "This is the largest corporate donation in Rise's 11-year history, and I cannot overstate the impact it will have in Canadians' lives. Bell's leadership in the mental health space is helping to combat stigma and grow access to care, and it's with Bell's loyal support that Rise can strengthen our mission to help individuals with mental health and addiction challenges become empowered through entrepreneurship."

Bell's gift will enhance Rise's ability to recruit and engage new clients, enabling it to reach more Canadians with programs that help eliminate barriers to employment through entrepreneurship workshops, training and mentorship, and builds on Bell's earlier support for Rise programs. A portion of the donation will also be invested in the Rise Loan Fund to help launch more than 300 new small businesses over the next five years and enhance the organization's sustainable source of lending capital.

"Bell Let's Talk is proud to empower even more Canadians to build new futures as entrepreneurs and small business owners as we extend our long-standing commitment to the great work of the Rise team," said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let's Talk. "By helping entrepreneurs with mental health and addiction challenges become self-employed through building small businesses, Rise enables them to create a better tomorrow for themselves and their families, while also strengthening the social fabric of our communities."

Rise expands into Manitoba
Rise and Bell Let's Talk announced the enhanced partnership during the Let's #GetReal About Mental Health & Entrepreneurship Online event for Rise clients to mark Mental Health Week. The event also served as the official launch of Rise Winnipeg, which will provide Manitobans with access to the Rise Small Business Lending Program and other training workshops and programs in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Manitoba and Winnipeg.

Rise's expansion into Manitoba in partnership with CMHA has also been made possible through Bell's new donation. Manitoba represents the 5th province where Rise has a physical presence (including Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Ontario), and as the organization continues to adapt its programs and wrap-around supports to online platforms, it aims to scale its digital reach to all regions of the country.

During COVID-19, Rise has transitioned all of its programs to virtual platforms, enabling entrepreneurship training, mentorship and custom supports from coast to coast to coast. While COVID-19 presents enormous hurdles to overcome, there is tremendous opportunity for Canadians with mental health and addiction challenges to make significant contributions to our collective recovery through entrepreneurship.

"CMHA data shows that 40 percent of Canadians reported a decline in their mental health due to the COVID-19 crisis," said Ms. Smith. "Rise is uniquely positioned to not only support entrepreneurs' mental health needs, but also empower more Canadians to become self-employed or small businesses owners, which will be critical to our collective recovery from COVID-19, and the future health of our economy." 

People with a mental illness face the highest degree of stigmatization in the workplace and the greatest barriers to employment. Of Rise clients, 69% report increased personal confidence as a result of their involvement with Rise, and 71% feel that they are playing a useful part in society. In its 2020 fiscal year, Rise disbursed 80 low-interest loans to help launch and support small businesses across Canada. For more information, please see Rise's 2020 Impact Report.

About Bell Let's Talk
The largest-ever corporate commitment to mental health in Canada, Bell Let's Talk is focused on 4 key action pillars: Anti-stigma, Care and Access, Research and Workplace Leadership. Since its launch in September 2010, Bell Let's Talk has partnered with more than 1,100 organizations providing mental health supports and services throughout Canada, including hospitals, universities, local community service providers and other care and research organizations. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

About Rise
Rise is a national organization dedicated to empowering people with mental health and addiction challenges to achieve greater social and economic inclusion through entrepreneurship. Through training, mentorship, micro-financing and other customs supports, Rise helps individuals build the skills and access the capital they need to launch a small business that can improve quality of life and enable them to support themselves, their families and communities.

Since its founding in 2010, Rise has benefitted from the time and talent of 800+ volunteers, disbursed more than $2 million in low-interest loans and established training and mentorship programs that have helped to launch 1,000+ dreams across Canada. Rise collaborates with local partners to recruit for and deliver programs, enriching partners' existing services and enabling Rise to scale rapidly without traditional bricks and mortar investment. Today, Rise works in 9 locations across five provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Ontario). 

Rise is changing lives and strengthening communities by unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit of all Canadians with mental health and addiction challenges. Learn more about Rise at www.risehelps.ca or @RiseHelps.

Media inquiries:

Kyla Pearson

Jacqueline Michelis

SOURCE Bell Canada