Part of becoming a legitimate non-profit organization has meant that a lot of time has been spending learning about and navigating the process and requirements to become exactly that. One of the final stages in completing the application was performing a NUANS - which stands for Newly Updated Automated Name Search (and sounds so exciting). Basically, it is a fancy service that searches your business name to ensure that you have selected an appropriate name and are not using a name that some other company is already operating under. It seems intuitive that there would be such a step, the name an organization or business is operating under is so important for name recognition, branding, and so users can understand what you do or are offering. It seems intuitive now, that is!
And we now have the report in hand, and will be meeting with someone to help us interpret and understand the results. And then continue on with the application, of course, with the goal of being an official non-profit by April.
Last month Conference2Classroom founder Rachel Kuzmich sent an email to the Honorable Kirsty Duncan. This week she received a reply from her office, which we have copied below because inserting a pdf document was being uncoorperative for whatever reason this morning.
Dear Ms. Kuzmich,
On behalf of the Minister of Science and Sport, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, thank you for your correspondence of January 15, 2019, regarding the science communication organization you have started, Conference2Classroom. The Minister has asked that I respond on her behalf.
It is wonderful to learn about your efforts to connect researchers and other experts attending conferences with local classrooms. Experts who are eager to share their knowledge and passion for their work can be a great source of inspiration to young people. The Government of Canada recognizes the need to inspire the next generation of researchers and innovators, and I am pleased you have taken up this challenge. As you point out, this provides a space for young Canadians to hear first-hand what actual researchers are doing, and perhaps even more importantly, broadens their awareness of what careers are possible.
I see that Conference2Classroom has already succeeded in organizing several appearances of scientists in classrooms. I commend you for the time and commitment you have dedicated over the past few months to get the organization started.
Please accept my best wishes.
Assistant Deputy Minister
Science and Research Sector
The primary users of Conference2Classroom's services are experts attending conferences and teachers from schools in the host city. Being that our regular Thursday blog falls on Valentine's Day, our founder Rachel Kuzmich wanted to take a minute to reflect and give some love for her favourite teacher.
My parents never bought me skates. I've talked before about growing up in a blue collar town in a blue collar family but that is not entirely accurate. My parents never bought me skates because we were too poor and they couldn't afford it. My poverty was embarrassing to me when I was old enough to realize my used or hand-me-down clothes didn't fit as well as my classmates and they were from last season (or the season before). Being a kid is tough. You're so early in your development as a person and don't yet have the confidence to be the person you are. In my experience, the best teachers do more than teach the curriculum. They are genuinely interested in and encourage your development, and they help you when they can.
My parents couldn't afford to buy me skates but class trips to skate at the local arena were a common winter activity with the school. Sometimes I would have money to rent skates for the day. More often I didn't, so I sat in the bleachers and watched my classmates do laps around the rink. This pattern continued until my third grade teacher, Mme Thériault, gave me skates. They weren't brand new or brand name, they were definitely too big, but they were mine. And they were just what eight year old me needed. And this was just the kind of support eight year old me needed.
And it is something that thirty two year old me remembers fondly. It is funny sometimes the events in our lives that stick with us. I don't know whether Mme Thériault was aware of the impression she made on me and how much her support meant. I'm also certain that eight year old me couldn't have articulated it. I recall fastening the skates as fast as I could to join my peers on the ice. I also remember falling, a lot, because I couldn't skate!
It is this memory of Mme Thériault, along with many others of the important people who inspired me to do more and do better throughout my life, that inspire the work here at Conference2Classroom. We hope that the pathways we enable between experts and classrooms will stick with the children and youth in those classrooms.
For the past couple of weeks, we have been thinking about where Conference2Classroom's forever home will be. While we offer connections between experts and classrooms across Canada, the idea was born in Kingston, we are being incorporated here, and we care about and feel a responsibility to our community. We were founded by a geographer after all, and place and space are very important to her! Most of our work has been done from Rachel's home office in Kingston, but as our founder is moving in May of this spring her current home office will be no longer!
The application to incorporate as a not-for-profit requires a permanent address and the timing of this move has made things a little tricky. But this has meant making realistic plans and having realistic expectations for how we will operate this year.
For the most part, our work is and can be done from a home office. The idea of a coworking space that we could use on say a weekly basis is also highly appealing from a cost perspective and from a collaborative perspective. But finding a suitable coworking space will take time, and we want to get our application in so that we can start applying for funding and soliciting sponsorship so that we will be well positioned to operate and grow. Of course eventually we want our program to see the success that we believe it can achieve as we reach a greater audience, but for now an office to ourselves is not something we can either realistically afford or realistically need at this time.
While it feels like we need a forever home, we realistically expect to grow over the course of the year and beyond. If we can cost save and stay comfortably in a home office, then that means more money will go directly to supporting our mission and less towards operational costs. And at this early stage in our development - which we constantly have to remind ourselves about after all the energy we have been putting in this, because we are only a few months old - this feels right. It looks like our home for now is a home office in Kingston, and soon it will be a home office in Prince Edward County. Now we just need to get one address in ink on the application, ideally so as not to need to change it in another few short months!