The Academy of Experiences is a professional community of trainers and youth workers who are engaged with outdoor experiential education using nature and the world around them as a classroom. Their mission is to inspire, empower and support youth and adults to take responsibility in their lives and their communities.
They create space and time for participants to develop their own personal and professional skills through non-formal educational activities. They place great emphasis on offering skills development programmes for marginalised youth from all over the country.
In recent years, there has been an increasing demand for their services by for-profit customers, who realised that experiential learning can be effectively used to develop skills among their employees. For the Academy of Experiences, these contracts have represented a new way to generate income. Under the Springboard programme 2018, they wished to explore how to take their activities to the next level, intending to centralise their training and programmes into a central venue in order to increase efficiency. Not only would this improve the overall sustainability of the organisation, but from the extra profit generated they could offer additional programmes to at-risk youth, their main target group. The Foundation awarded the Academy of Experiences with additional mentoring so that their business plan and financial model could be optimised.
Within the framework of mentoring, both the charitable and the market-based activities were reviewed. The organisation regrouped and prioritised several of their projects, and they identified the core activities contributing most to achieve their mission. In the meantime, the Association successfully applied for operating grants from EACEA (a funding agency of the EU), plus they launched new large-scale training projects. These positive developments ensured favourable circumstances for the organisation to gradually redefine and stabilise their operation both financially and functionally.
The Association did not abandon the idea of implementing its own training centre. However, they opted for a more staged approach by first concentrating on fine-tuning their current mode of service delivery and delaying the construction of the centre. Finalising the business plan of the independent training centre is thus expected next year.
Banner credit: Flickr, Camille D, Creative Commons.