2017 Grantee Profile: Lolita Richards

Created by Lolita Richards, Wee Bake is a baking program where youth are able to explore the world of baking and pastry art, combined with gaining key financial skills in the Scarborough community.

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The project was influenced by a one-on-one baking session Lolita had with a 12 year old named Kandice. This session inspired Lolita to create a bigger space for children to gain access to learn the importance of financial literacy, and baking skills. Considering the lack of free programs in the community, Lolita wanted to create something that brought youth together but also provided them with transferable skills . In September of 2016, Lolita connected with a fellow community member and discovered a shared kitchen space that was located near her home. With a zeal to make this vision come to life, Lolita found ArtReach’s grant through Biz Start and  decided to apply. Unsure of what the project should be named, Lolita’s mother suggested ‘Wee Bake.

Before even receiving funding, ArtReach already extended support through the Grant Writing 101 workshop. Lolita found attending ArtReach’s Grant writing workshop extremely helpful and informative. “I have never written an evaluation of this scale before and I was able to collect a lot of useful tips.” said Lolita.

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The youth response to the program was extremely positive to the extent that Lolita created a waiting list in the first week due to its high enrollment. The youth were able to give back to the community by sharing the baked goods they made. Parents in the community also realized the impact the program has in the community and considered it to be a safe space for the youth.

Lolita hopes to expand the program into two separate sections where adults are able to participate. “I was actually surprised at the amount of adults that are interested in the same kind of programming, the baking, pastry art and the financial literacy aspect” said Lolita. Lolita’s ultimate goal is to have a permanent kitchen space to offer a variety of culinary and baking programs instead of renting a space.

ArtReach was the projects first ever funder. “ArtReach made this all possible” said Lolita. ArtReach has helped Lolita gain confidence within and taught her more about her skills and abilities. Throughout this project, she was able to connect with other community leaders and gain more knowledge on project management. “I was able to create a job for

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myself were I was able to do what I love and also provide employment to other youth in the community.” said Lolita. The youth also expressed their interest for pursuing studies in the culinary arts creating a significant change in the community.

Wee Bake has helped Lolita recognize her love for teaching. She hopes to expand her business “Made By Moi” and to continue creating spaces her community will benefit.  

For more information on Wee Bake click here.

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