Vancouver Downtown Eastside Charity.

We Are Employ

To Empower.

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We Focus On Long-Term Support In the DTES.

Employ to Empower supports residents in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside community by providing access to development and entrepreneurial resources. Our resources include affordable microloans and business mentorship, with the goal of having a long-term impact on our members’ personal and economic well being. We also actively advocate for creating positive social change in the Downtown Eastside.

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I want to spend a meaningful portion of my time on non-profit activities that have the possibility to benefit our community in a positive way, even if only in a small way. I really believe in the “ripple effect”. Individual stones we throw into the water may be small, but the ripples they produce travel great distances. It’s the possibility for social change by the cumulative effect of many small, positive and individual actions that I find most exciting. And I look forward to tossing a lot more stones into the water through my involvement with Employ to Empower!

Scott ShawDonor & Co-Founder of Sutton Realty

Something that I leave every ETE event with is a sense of genuine connectedness to the individuals that I had met, and to those ETE has supported. From the attendees, to the volunteers, to the organizers, there is no doubt in your mind that ETE cares - whole-heartedly, passionately, and limitlessly.

Charissa LandichoETE Attendee

Being a part of Employ to Empower has opened up a lot of doors for me and I'm really grateful for that. Employ to Empower supports me and since joining, new aspects of my art are being shown in a variety of different ways. People want—and are taking the time—to hear my story.

Deirdre PinnockPolitical Rughooker and Fibre Artist

Our Initiatives.


Our entrepreneurship program supports residents and their business aspirations through personalized weekly mentorship sessions and access to affordable microloans.

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Street Store

The Vancouver Street Store is an annual, free, pop-up clothing store that offers a dignified shopping experience to residents in the Downtown Eastside.

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Cardboard Project

The Cardboard Project centres around the unveiling of a unique artwork created using messages written on cardboard, contributed by the Downtown Eastside community.

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We actively engage in advocacy work in the broader community and are committed to bringing about positive social change for our Downtown Eastside and its residents.

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Why We Do It.

Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is considered one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Canada. Currently, there are many amazing non-profits tackling the issue of homelessness, and while this is important, we also believe it is equally essential to support people in the long term. Our goal is for people to succeed financially, socially, and mentally.

We strongly believe that no matter what your socioeconomic status, physical appearance, life experiences, and personal choices, we all experience the same emotional spectrum, and we all deserve to feel seen, heard, and validated. We aim to make sure our members are seen, heard and validated by empowering their self confidence and sense of worthiness.

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About The Street Store.

The Vancouver Street Store is an annual free pop-up clothing store that offers a dignified shopping experience to residents in the Downtown Eastside.

The Vancouver Street Store is a free pop-up clothing store for residents in the Downtown Eastside, facilitated by Employ to Empower with its partners every December. The goal of this event at Columbia and East Hastings is to provide a dignified shopping experience, where residents are uplifted and offered a hand up rather than a hand out. Since the Street Store was founded in 2014, we’ve worked with 500+ volunteers, received 66,550 donations and impacted 6,000+ residents.

Vancouver Street Store 2021 Information:

This year, we are hosting our 8th annual event at Oppenheimer Park 400 Powell Street from 10AM-4PM.

Donation drop off location

41 E Hastings Street ground level warehouse. Drop off in the back alleyway

Donation drop off times:

  • Saturday Nov 27th: 9am to 3pm
  • Saturday Dec 4th: 9am to 3pm

We are now only accepting:

  • Men’s winter jackets + pants
  • Medium-sized to large-sized backpacks
  • Warm blankets
  • Men’s + Womens New Underwear
  • New Towels
  • Sleeping bags
  • New Socks
  • Unopened Toiletries
  • Winter accessories (gloves, scarves, hats)
  • Winter boots (especially larger sizes)

What we’re NOT accepting

  • Summer clothing
  • Kids clothing
  • Hotel size shampoos / toiletries
  • High heels* + Open-toed shoes

We ask the community to be thoughtful about their donations as we want to ensure that your donation will go to people who need it. If items like summer clothing / kids clothing are donated, they are often leftover and get donated to a thrift store. For maximum impact, please only donate high priority items to better serve the community and save our staff time in sorting.

How You Can Get Involved:

  • Donate money to help ensure the long-term sustainability of the event. As you may be aware, the Street Store is how Employ to Empower began
  • Become a Donation Champion – We need volunteers to rally Vancouver to donate their clothing, shoes and *especially* winter items for this year’s Street Store. Donation Champions set up a drop-off point, sort and label the items and then deliver their collection on our drop-off days in late November!
  • Volunteer the day of event
  • Tell EVERYONE about this impactful initiative to spread the cheer

Our Supporters.

Our Corporate


We take a well-rounded approach to help members of the Downtown Eastside move towards self-sufficiency and we ask our corporate partners to join us and do the same. Through the support of our partners, we are able not only to keep supporting our members, but also to raise awareness of the Downtown Eastside community. We allow our corporate supporters come in any vertical they feel comfortable supporting with. Interested in supporting us? Click below to learn about all our offerings.

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Have Questions?

Contact us for answers or to sign up for our services! We're always available to provide you with support.

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