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Chemins d'avenirs, 2023 laureate of the Degroof Petercam Foundation

Marie Melikov - Estate Planner
The new laureate of the Degroof Petercam Foundation has just been announced: Chemins d'avenirs. This French organization founded by social entrepreneur Salomé Berlioux in 2016 has the mission to reveal the potential of young people in rural areas and small towns.
Salomé grew up in a small village in France and quickly realized that young persons in a rural area do not get the same chances and opportunities as those in a large metropolis like Paris, Lyon or Bordeaux.

In fact, a young person in a rural area is too often confronted with obstacles that limit his or her potential: restricted mobility, information bias, or the absence of academic, professional and cultural opportunities. Yet, 80% of the working classes live outside the major metropolises and their suburbs.

The Invisibles of the Republic

In these areas, geographical factors are added to social and/or gender factors.

These obstacles have a direct impact on the development of the potential of young people, whom Salomé Berlioux accurately describes as The Invisibles of the Republic. Far from the decision-making centers and places where value is created, these 10 million are less aware of the possible fields of study and the jobs that may be open to them. Very often they do not have access to the psychological, material or financial resources that are needed to enter them. Yet, for decades, this segment of French youth remained in the blind spot of public policies and equal opportunity programs.

Salomé had to overcome these challenges. Feeling lucky to have found her way and appalled by the number of young people affected, she set up the non-profit organization ‘Chemins d'avenirs’ to fight these regional gaps.

Awareness and support

Accompanied by Valentine Lebrun, the current deputy director of ‘Chemins d'avenirs’, she began to travel through France and knock-on doors of high schools in rural areas and small towns to encourage their students to join the association's program.
Salomé Chemins davenirs

The reality of this regional gap goes far beyond the borders of France and is only the reflection of a much deeper European social gap.

Salomé Berlioux – Founder of Chemins d’avenirs

A European gap

The one-year renewable program is based on four pillars:
  • a self-knowledge methodology,
  • a system of individual mentoring,
  • thematic training,
  • access to opportunities.
A participant of ‘Chemins d'avenirs’ leaves the program with a deeper knowledge of himself, his strengths and weaknesses, and his limiting beliefs. He gets a better understanding of the career paths available to him; benefits from an increased self-confidence; sees an academic and professional career path that matches his potential; masters the digital technologies for professional purposes; has increased cross-cutting skills; and develops a social commitment that can be put to good use for his future career. He also gets access to scholarships, internship offers, cultural outings, company visits and meetings with professionals.

The pilot year was challenging, because decision-makers and companies did not recognize the reality that Salomé and Valentine reflected. But the publication of ‘The Invisibles of the Republic’ at the same time of the yellow vests crisis was a turning point. The press and the media took an interest and the situation started to change. To this day ‘Chemins d'avenirs’ has mentored 5,000 young people. The aim is to mentore 25,000 young people by 2025.

The reality of this regional gap goes beyond the borders of France and has economic, social and political consequences on a French, European and international scale.

The future of a country lies in its youth. Rewarding 'Chemins d'avenirs' is a way to create awareness among politicians in France and Europe that young people are full of talent, no matter where they live.

Cristina Amboldi - Managing Director Actiris - Jury member

A plea to change the system

Beyond the direct impact, ‘Chemins d'avenirs’ clearly understood that in order to tackle such a societal issue, it is important to activate the right means of transformation and to get to the root of the problem. The challenge is to change mindsets in a way that French society recognizes the struggle faced by millions of young people and to finally designs programs adapted to these issues. To trigger this change, ‘Chemins d'avenirs’ developed a strategy to influence public authorities, businesses, the media, social economy actors and, more broadly, the general public. Through reports, opinion polls, books, concrete recommendations and coalition events, the organization's advocacy work is essential in the fight against regional gaps, both in France and in Europe.

DPF Award: a demanding and independent selection process

For 5 years now, the Degroof Petercam Foundation has been selecting social innovation projects in Belgium, Luxembourg and France, countries in which the Degroof Petercam Group is present. After a thorough 6-month long process of due diligence and field visits, the projects that best correspond to the Foundation's mission were presented to an independent jury that is renewed yearly.
The Degroof Petercam Foundation is proud to support ‘Chemins d'avenirs’ in the pursuit of its objectives. The financial help will allow the organization to significantly increase the number of young people it supports (through the development of new digital tools). But above all it will bring a systemic change at the level of various stakeholders (public authorities, companies, NGOs, etc.).

Are you interested? You can find more information on ‘Chemins d'Avenirs’, or by contacting Valentine Lebrun, deputy director of ‘Chemins d'Avenirs’.

The Degroof Petercam Foundation

The Degroof Petercam Foundation supports social initiatives for employment. The projects focus on the development of future skills, entrepreneurship and accessibility to employment. The Foundation selects one project every year and grants it one million euros over 5 years.
The Degroof Petercam Foundation also promotes philanthropy within the group and its employees through engagement programs such as sponsorships and micro-donations of salary. Since 2019, Duo for a Job, Bayes Impact, Ticket for Change, Activ'Action have become laureates.

Follow the activities of the Degroof Petercam Foundation through our webpage and our networks.
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