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5 Innovative Ways Bright Endeavors Lights The Way For Young Moms

This year celebrates 10 years since New Moms integrated the social enterprise home fragrance company, Bright Endeavors, into its Job Training Program.

Bright Endeavors is an integral component of the New Moms’ workforce development program for parenting youth and exists to provide paid transitional job training and skill development for young moms.

Bright Endeavors, is a critical component of New Moms’ Job Training program and exists to provide transitional job training and professional skill development for young moms who are working to build strong families.

“The moms in our program show up on day one as tenacious, dedicated, smart women who fiercely love their kids and want to do whatever it takes to provide them a comfortable life and a bright future,” said Sarah-Jayne Ashenhurst, Bright Endeavors’ Social Enterprise Director. “We open that door by providing an opportunity for each participant to learn about their strengths and challenges and to apply that knowledge to their careers.”

As a social enterprise, Bright Endeavors pairs New Moms’ social mission of supporting young moms as they build strong families with the business model of a candle-making company. We strive to challenge conventional models by prioritizing shared prosperity. Young moms gain critical, paid work experience and all revenue from the sale of the hand-crafted candles directly funds New Moms’ programming.

Since 2010, 512 moms have worked at Bright Endeavors while working towards their goals of economic stability and mobility. In honor of this achievement, we’re highlighting some of the many ways Bright Endeavors is an innovator among employment-focused social enterprises.

Integrated Supportive Services

Finding and maintaining a job can be challenging enough without the added stress of raising a young family. Many of the young moms we partner with must navigate a variety of barriers like stable housing, childcare, and transportation while also developing their careers.

photo by Anjali Pinto

This is why Job Training is a fully integrated part of our service model. Moms working at Bright Endeavors have access to all of New Moms’ supportive programs, so they can take control of their goals and futures. Our goal is to provide services to help stabilize families and alleviate the effects of toxic stress.

“New Moms helped to open doors for me – doors to be a great mom,” said Olivia, a Production Assistant at Bright Endeavors. “Everything I was looking for, New Moms offered it at some time.”

A safe place to live and a supportive network are important parts of a mom’s success in the workplace. Moms who feel supported have additional bandwidth to handle the stress of being a working parent.

Program Structure 

“It’s been great,” said Terrah Davis, team lead of the finishing department. “Working on these candles, it’s bettered me as a person and as a young mom.”

On Mondays and Fridays, young moms are in the classroom learning about professional skills and job readiness. The other

Young moms enrolled in New Moms’ Job Training program spend two out of the five days in the week in the classroom at our Austin location. In the classroom, moms learn professional skills, financial literacy, and how to write a resume as part of their curriculum.

three days, they work the production floor at Bright Endeavors making soy candles and practicing their skills.

Our Job Training Program also integrates personal coaching into production management. For many moms, working at Bright Endeavors is their first job, so they’re learning the expectations of the workplace for the first time, according to Bright Endeavors’ Production and Training Specialist, Cathy Robinson-Yates.

During the program, young moms are able to practice their skills in a safe and supportive environment, and coaches help prepare them for a permanent job immediately after graduating.

“I promise you, you’ll love it,” said Production Assistant Natarah Grisby. “All of the things they teach you here, and what you learn here will help you for a career, not just a job.”

Education Gains On The Job

Education is a critical component of long term stability and success, so every young mom is encouraged to continue along her educational path.

Production Assistants listen to their coworkers give a presentation prior to their shift on the production floor.

An example of how we work with moms to support their education goals is by integrating literacy and numeracy learning directly into the program. Young moms come to New Moms in various stages of education, so we developed a curriculum that imbeds reading and math into their work at Bright Endeavors.

This contextualized reading and math curriculum helped 72.2% of moms improve their reading or math scores last year. Moms also improve an average of 2.5 grade levels during the 16 weeks of the program.

“This is a huge leap in educational gains in a short period of time,” said Dana Emanuel, New Moms’ Director of Learning and Innovation. “Participants are learning and using math skills while making candles, so it feels immediately applicable, relevant, and important for their job at Bright Endeavors and future external employment. We believe they are increasing their literacy and numeracy level at a much higher rate than they would in a classroom-based learning environment alone.”

Young moms also explore the ongoing education options necessary to pursue their personal life and career goals.

In 2019 alone, 72.9% of participants exited our program with a high school diploma or increased education level.

“They give us a lot of support and they really try to assure us that you can be a mom, you can work, you can still go to school,” said Production Assistant Ricarda Miller.

Pay Structure

At Bright Endeavors, production assistants are paid an hourly wage of $13/hr for both classroom and production time, to value

At New Moms, we partner with young moms and their kids, like Zuleima Duran and her daughter Elyn, in a “2-Generation” approach. This allows us to positively impact two generations of youth: young moms as well as their children.

her time and effort. A young mom can earn up to $3,700 over 16 weeks while also developing critical job skills.

“The fact that they recognize you for working hard, that means something to me, because a lot of people don’t see my hard

work,” said Production Assistant Denise, a Team Lead a Bright Endeavors. “I feel appreciated.”

Additionally, this pay structure supports moms as they work towards their goals of economic stability and mobility.

“We’re giving moms the training that they need to be successful, but also the pay,” said Cathy Robinson-Yates, Bright Endeavors’ Production & Training Specialist. “Our moms, they need housing. They have to take care of family. We are providing them with some stable income that will help them to take care of their families.”

This allows our work to impact two generations of youth: young moms and their children.

“My daughter will benefit because I benefited from being at New Moms,” said Olivia, a Production Assistant at Bright Endeavors. “New Moms allowed me to have financial stability and she will get to reap the fruits of that experience.”

Executive Skills Approach

In 2016, New Moms’ Job Training program and Bright Endeavors started applying brain and behavioral science of “Executive Skills” to enhance its coaching program. We saw this could also have a positive effect on the business side of the candle production floor.

Production Assistants start and end their shift with a team huddle.

Executive Skills are the 12 brain-based abilities that govern how we organize, plan, and get things done. Everyone has Executive Skills strengths and struggles, and leveraging young moms’ Executive Skills strengths in on-the-job coaching at Bright Endeavors has made a huge impact on young moms’ confidence and job readiness.

“Bright Endeavors gives me the chance to grow into someone my kids will be proud of,” said Production Assistant, Taeya. “My mindset has changed dramatically.”

We have started to see strong gains in job retention rates as well, with 81% of young moms retaining employment one year after they begin working.

Before adopting components of the Executive Skills on the production floor, Bright Endeavors experienced high candle production waste – such as spilled wax, spilled scent, and torn labels. With a focus on better tracking, SMART Goals, coaching and environmental modifications as part of the Executive Skills Approach, waste at Bright Endeavors has decreased over 85% to rarely over $250 of costs per month.

Shop our products where 100% of proceeds are reinvested into the program to the benefit of future moms.

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