PERMETTRE À TOUS LES JEUNES DE CONSACRER UNE ÉTAPE DE LEUR VIE À LA SOLIDARITÉ PRÈS
DE CHEZ EUX
Il existe un déphasage entre la volonté d’agir des jeunes et leur implication, et l’engagement civique est peu reconnu. L’énergie et l’envie de changer le monde des jeunes sont peu mobilisées, et parallèlement les catégories sociales et culturelles sont de plus en plus cloisonnées. Ainsi, Marie Trellu-Kane crée une organisation pour démontrer la richesse d’une étape de Service Civique dans l’éducation de tous les jeunes, et les mobilise sur des missions socialement utiles. Elle leur propose un accompagnement formateur, renforce le vivre-ensemble et permet la reconnaissance et le développement massif du service civique des jeunes en Europe et dans le monde francophone.
Unis-Cité est implanté dans 49 grandes villes (15 régions), et plus de 10 000 jeunes sont mobilisés en moyenne 8 mois à temps plein avec 250 000 bénéficiaires de leurs actions. La Loi sur le Service Civique de 2010 s’est largement inspirée du modèle Unis-Cité et Marie souhaite voir une génération de jeunes engagés respectueux des différences et entreprenants pour la société, visant minimum un jeune sur 10 volontaire en France. Elle a aussi créé un service civique européen.
QUI EST-ELLE ?
Diplômée de l’ESSEC et de la Harvard Kennedy School, Marie est co-fondatrice d’Unis-Cité à 23 ans. Elle est membre du Conseil Economique Social et Environnemental et a co-fondé le pôle entrepreneuriat de l’ESSEC et d’Antropia, incubateur d’entreprises sociales. Chevalière de l’ordre national du mérite, elle remporte le prix de la Femme en Or en 2013. Elle est aujourd’hui mère de 2 jeunes enfants métisses.
While developing the civic service, Marie has contributed to changing the entire social infrastructure to ensure these new changemakers reinforce the social impact of existing organizations. Efficiency-oriented, Marie supports partner organizations, which welcome young people in defining needs and objectives, structuring volunteering missions and dealing with management, integration, and training of the teams. By doing so, she ensures that on the one hand, young people accomplish useful and fulfilling missions and on the other hand, welcoming organizations benefit from professional, creative, and intrapreneurial volunteers.
Marie has thus successfully created all the conditions to further youth citizenship and promote youth social entrepreneurship. Benefiting from a large database of committed youth, a powerful support from public and private partners, and a national recognition, she now aims at reaching a second tipping point where young people not only understand and participate in social issues but also create their own solutions by starting their own social ventures. Cross-fertilization with existing programs—e.g. Ashoka Youth Venture—is a key component of Marie’s strategy to set up new programs. Marie also works in Africa where she has already brought her expertise to build civic service in Burkina Faso. Observing the lack of existing social organizations there, she will focus directly on social entrepreneurship and partner with local networks to accelerate the implementation of her initiative.
At the same time, citizen activities such as volunteering are still sources of economic benefit and creativity for the citizen sector. Time spent volunteering in France equals 820,000 jobs, 13 billion working hours or 16B EUR a year (National Statistics Agency, 2004). Besides, this workforce is an incredible source of innovation and new action for citizen organizations (COs). However, it is a well-known challenge that the management of the volunteer workforce requires human resources that organizations usually do not have. Moreover, volunteers often commit themselves without necessarily having the needed competencies to do the work presented to them. Besides, the gap between old-school social organizations and young people’s spirits does not facilitate the matching between needs and available will.
Culturally, a few young people consider they are part of the solutions, but are not used to creating their own projects. In France, starting initiatives and taking risks are often not recognized and valued—surveys show that half of young people in France dream of becoming public officers in order to benefit from job security. In a world that is changing rapidly, with pressing social issues, there is an urgent need to develop a new generation of changemakers; citizens that can handle social and environmental issues and find creative ways to solve them. This will be achieved by returning a sense of citizen engagement to youth and developing their entrepreneurial spirit.
Marie has designed a smart program highly valuable for volunteers in terms of developing professional skills as well as personal qualities. Organized in teams of eight people, volunteers engage in four to five different missions at diverse organizations over the course of their service year, and have the opportunity to learn about a range of social issues (e.g. exclusion, discrimination, poverty, intergenerational solidarity, and the environment). By using various means of communication in universities, but also in local citizen and sport associations in underserved areas, Marie makes sure that teams mix young people from diverse backgrounds (i.e. privileged and underprivileged, students, low-qualified workers, and minorities). Beyond their work in the field, volunteers dedicate one day a week to group sessions where they reinforce their knowledge on social stakes, share their experiences and work on their professional project (i.e. they set objectives, conduct individual follow-up and search for potential employees after their year of service). The results are outstanding: 94 percent of unemployed volunteers find a job at the end of their service year, or go back to their studies.
Besides creating opportunities for young volunteers, Marie has also constructed the financial and legal framework for the official recognition of volunteers by government. This enables young people to commit themselves for almost a year as volunteers in COs, and be recognized for their work. During the first six years of Unis-Cité’ existence, Marie successfully financed all of her programs relying on private funds, brightly engaging the staff of companies to coach young people, and offering volunteering days as counterparts. In 2000 Marie made a substantial step by obtaining the legal recognition of “volunteer” status. This status makes it possible for youth to receive a financial compensation paid in part by the government as well as access to benefits—mainly health insurance coverage and a contribution to a public retirement pension scheme. In 2010, the creation of the National Civic Service Agency reinforced the financial and legal framework for volunteers by simplifying the administrative procedures to become a volunteer and by giving volunteers the equivalent of university credits for their work. Moreover, the government has budgeted 500M EUR (US$710M) to encourage and fund a critical mass of young people engaged in citizen actions.
While better positioning young people in COs or social departments of local public institutions, Marie realized that the majority of these institutions were not structured to welcome and manage volunteers. To overcome that situation, she dedicates a part of her resources to support these organizations in defining interesting missions and sharing the management of the volunteer teams. Consequently, 77 percent of her partners think that the volunteers’ work is useful and efficient. As the number of volunteers will soon be sufficiently increased by the work of the National Civic Service Agency, Marie recognizes the importance of strengthening organizations’ ability to receive and support volunteers. She is also setting up a for-profit consultancy that will specialize in the management of volunteers, with all profits reinvested in the core not-for profit actions of Unis-Cité.
Finally, Marie has set up national projects on topics where partners can interact, learn, and develop and implement solutions together, assisted by young volunteers. The availability of the volunteer workforce constitutes a great opportunity to develop new solutions and put them into place. Mediaterre, which raises awareness on energy consumption among underserved families, is one the national initiatives led by Unis-Cité and sponsored by the national electricity company and other public actors. Volunteer teams from diverse backgrounds are the best positioned to facilitate the dialogue and therefore are more successful in changing behaviors.
Marie has always considered civil service as a necessary first step in developing youth citizen engagement. The results of her work demonstrate the emergence of a new generation of changemakers: 88 percent of Unis-Cité volunteers report that they better understand society and the complexity of social issues; 83 percent feel they now have the tools to act for society; and 76 percent feel more daring to take initiatives. Based on these results, and benefiting from her leadership in the field, Marie wants to expand her solution to other countries as well as experiment around new ways of engaging youth beyond service projects. The next key step is to encourage social entrepreneurship and support young people in creating their own social ventures, capitalizing on existing organizations’ expertise like Ashoka Youth Venture or Antropia, the social venture incubator created by Marie. From an international perspective, Marie has already participated in the replication of her solution in Burkina Faso, where 900 young people have been engaged as civic service volunteers. She is now thinking of an Africa-wide development strategy, while working on unifying existing European civil service organizations to strengthen the movement and add the entrepreneurial component.
Marie rejects the increasing trend in French society of fatalism, pessimism, and disillusion of young citizens toward political action and citizen commitment. In order to bring back trust in citizen action, Marie believes in the importance of building bridges with private and public actors to spread her model and convince political decision-makers to bid on the potential of youth. Moreover, she wants diversity to become a powerful leverage to both improve the well-being of society and foster youth commitment. Marie’s strong belief in diversity partially stems from her personal experience: Her husband and the father of her two children is Senegalese, and she particularly understands the challenge faced by people with mixed origins. This is why she has given an essential dimension to diversity within Unis-Cité. Marie’s exemplary work in that field led her to join the advisory committee of the National Agency for Social Cohesion and Equal Opportunities.
Beyond Unis-Cité, Marie has launched and/or participated in many initiatives to create a stronger citizen sector and promote social entrepreneurship. In 1999 she founded a consultancy firm to professionalize management and organization practices for COs and support big companies in their sponsorship strategy. A pioneer in the academic system, in 2004 Marie co-founded the first graduate program on social entrepreneurship in France, at ESSEC Business School. A few years later, she launched Antropia, the first incubator in France for social ventures.