Employ To Empower


Learn More

What Do We Advocate For?

We act as advocates for the Downtown Eastside across the wider Vancouver community. We are committed to community outreach and facilitating creative events, such as exhibitions and dialogue sessions, for our members. We also distribute essential resources to residents in need, in a dignified way at our annual Street Store. Our goal through advocacy is to bring about positive social change for residents of the Downtown Eastside, by challenging common misperceptions and shifting the current stigma. We envision a Downtown Eastside community free of stigma, where residents are seen, heard and validated.

Our Initiatives.

The Street Store

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

The 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.


Entrepreneurs in our program are given the opportunity to share their work, abilities, and diverse stories at exhibitions throughout the year.

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 Times and Location

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

  • Saturday November 27th: 9am to 3pm
  • Saturday December 4th: 9am to 3pm
  • Sunday December 5th: 1pm to 3pm

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 – Interested in joining us for the eighth annual Vancouver Street Store? We need volunteers to support in all areas of the Street Store!
  • Tell EVERYONE about this impactful initiative to spread the cheer


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.

Our Supporters.

About The Cardboard Project.

Cardboard Project event’s feature cardboard and cardboard responses in an artistically creative way and in order to spread important messages.

The Cardboard Project is a unique event that was inspired by the culture of individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty, who often write messages and stories on pieces of cardboard. The Cardboard Project features a unique artwork, created using messages written on cardboard. These messages respond to a different question every year, focusing on human connection, recovery, wisdom, community, listening, spirituality, and other themes. The Cardboard Project also features talks by thought leaders, discussions with our members, experiences inviting us all to connect, and an exhibition of our members’ artistic creations. The overall goal of the Cardboard Project is to dismantle prevailing negative stigmas and strive towards a Downtown Eastside neighbourhood where members are seen, heard, and validated, while feeling connected to the greater community.

Our Supporters.


Entrepreneurs in our program are given the opportunity to showcase their work and abilities and tell their diverse stories.

Every year, Employ to Empower hosts multiple public exhibitions at different locations in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood to showcase the work and abilities of our entrepreneurs. At our exhibitions, entrepreneurs in our program get much needed exposure, and a space where they can tell their stories of triumph and resiliency.

Coming Soon.

Have Questions?

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

Contact Us