BESS Program Profile

“The seed you plant may look small but it has deep roots and will grow into a mighty tree.” – BESS graduate.

Our Building Economic Self-Sufficiency (BESS) program began nearly 20 years ago, when we asked ourselves, “What’s missing? What’s stopping women from leaving their abusers?” We asked this question to our past residents and other shelter workers. And we heard the answer loud and clear: poverty.

We realized that women needed a program to help them become economically self-sufficient. Able to earn an income. Able to pursue a career. Able to provide for her family and for herself.

And that’s how the BESS program was born!

BESS is an employment program that helps women find and maintain a successful career. Careers that they can build on and be proud of. Careers that will allow them to lead independent lives full of accomplishments and successes.

“I’m always amazed to see the change that takes place in our clients over the 10 days of the program.” Said Stephanie Agosta, Interval House’s Career Services Coordinator. “They often move from feelings of low confidence and a lack of direction, to really feeling motivated to take the next step in their goals. I feel lucky to bear witness to such a transformation each month.”

Throughout the workshop, women learn all of the skills they need to go after their dream careers with confidence: how to write a resume and cover letter, interview techniques, how to search for jobs and build a network, and so much more. And BESS not only helps women discover new skills and rediscover hidden ones - it also empowers women to achieve their dreams.

After women graduate from the BESS program, they work one-on-one with our Career Developer to fulfill their career goals by putting together a plan of action. The support offered by our Career Developer is made all the more powerful thanks to the help of our employer partners. Employer partners are companies that pass us job postings, host panel discussions, drop off professional suits, and connect with our clients to help them get their foot in the door.

Many employment programs place clients in jobs that are not in their field of interest, rather than a career-building position. BESS is unique because we help women find work in their fields, while addressing the barriers that abuse has created.

The program is tailored to address the specific barriers abused women face like isolation and low self-esteem. The group setting gives women the change to make friends, build a network, and reinforce each other’s’ strengths. By addressing these barriers and providing ongoing support, we’ve seen a lot of incredible success stories come from BESS, including home ownership, landing dream jobs, and achieving heights women never though were possible.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming an employer partner and helping women achieve their career goals, please contact Ashleigh Saith at 416-924-1411 ext. 231 or

To learn more about our BESS program, click here.