Apply to Join
Feb 23, 2019

Aicha and Leonard Scholarships

To make the leap in life, to rub it and to let oneself be stung, when life has already been previously stressful, unfair, asks some young people a support, a "shock absorber", that the project "Aïcha and Léonard proposes to be for three years. A "shock absorber", but also a "chance". That of offering young people (under 30) from families with very modest incomes, access to higher education, sometimes in distant schools or high registration fees.


The genesis of the project

Carried by Secours Catholique in Burgundy, this project was born from a legacy made by Mrs. Léonard, received in 2003. Mrs. Léonard had been taking care of young people in difficulty during all her life, so the team of Secours Catholique in Burgundy wished that her legacy could benefit projects for young people. The delegation launched a think tank to find an exceptional use for this ultimate gift.

One of this group’s volunteer, also involved in school support in Chalon-sur-Saône, was accompanying a young girl in 12th grade who wanted to attend a Bachelor of Science in biology. The family resources of this girl, despite the scholarship, did not allow her to consider such studies. Without additional financial assistance, she had to make up her mind to give up her studies and find a job ... The project "Aïcha and Léonard" was born. This girl was the first student  to receive support as part of the "Aïcha et Léonard" project. During the 2004-2005 school year, the project began to support young people, in addition to scholarships and other existing help, with a view to their professional integration.


The pedagogy of the project

The young people who benefit from the "Aïcha and Léonard" scholarships are young people identified by our volunteers and whose families are already known and accompanied by Secours Catholique.

The study projects (from technical diplomas two years after 8th grade  to  Master's degree and more) submitted for application must be feasible, that is to say to have a minimum of chances of success, estimated in a realistic way. Financial assistance is added to all those provided by state agencies such as various scholarships or housing assistance. Our scholarship is directly allocated to the student because this project aims at empowering young people.

Supported for three years (with a possibility of repeating a year), for an average amount of € 2,000, young people are accompanied and do not have to sacrifice free time or their revision time by engaging early in "small jobs" to offset their daily expenses.

For those who wish to continue their studies beyond the 3 years covered by the scholarship, considering that their future career should allow them a return on investment, we have set up a loan system of honor, without interest, repayable within the 5 years of first employment. To date, 10 loans have been granted, 5 have already been repaid (14,500 € loans have been allocated, 8,000 already reimbursed).

To accompany the young beneficiary, we ask him to choose a volunteer godfather/mother, with whom he must make a point, at least twice a year. The young student can rely on him/her to be supported in difficult times, advised on the management of his budget or reassured in this "jump" in university life.

Secours Catholique Caritas France 

Godfather with a beneficiary

All study projects are presented to a commission (3-4 members) which rules on the chances of realization and on the help that will be given to the young person. The head of the commission investigates the files and once they are complete presents them. He does not have a casting vote. All decisions are taken unanimously.

Accepted projects are subject of an agreement between the young person and Secours Catholique in Burgundy, which specifies the project of study supported, the amount of the aid granted and the duration of this one. The godfather/mother is co-signatory of the agreement.

In conducting this project, we have demonstrated our contribution: far from being only a "scholarship deliverer", we have been able to offer support to each of the young people supported for a repetition rate of only 13% , far from the failure rate in the first year of higher education which is 50% at the national level.

Since its launch in 2005, 97 young people, at various levels, have been moving towards independent living.

Aïcha et Leonard

Students during courses

Currently, we support 16 young people who have integrated this program.

"Recently, a student obtained his engineering degree and a job in the company where he attended his internship, a girl got a diploma of medical secretary .... for the anecdote, a boy having obtained his baccalaureate returned to prep engineer with our help and after selling his car to balance his budget ... We allow motivated young people who have a project to claim at the end of their studies that they will live on a job they have chosen. "Mr. Lelong, head of the Aïcha and Léonard commission.

The amount of expenditure related to this action is currently € 34,747 for the year 2018.


Nov 26, 2018

Reception center for families in Saint Etienne (42)

Families, including lone-parent families, account for more than 50% of the situations Secours Catholique receives each year, making tehm our priority audience. For 70 years now, Secours Catholique has developed many ways to help them, from school tutoring for children, through workshops, social groups, social grocery stores or solidarity shops and this, not counting the financial support paid to families individually.

To go even further in this accompaniment and with the concern of getting the families out of precariousness for a long time, Secours Catholique, developed various support system for parenthood such as "Families' Houses",  which primary mission is to help parents regain confidence and find solutions to their difficulties. We wish today to present you another model tested in the Loire department.


The city of Saint Etienne is the 14th most populous municipality in France with 171,057 inhabitants, and the 2nd municipality of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. The town is also at the heart of a vast urban area of more than 515,240 inhabitants, the seventeenth of France by its population, comprising 117 municipalities. With nearly 400,000 inhabitants, Saint-Étienne Métropole is the third largest intercommunality of Rhône-Alpes, behind Greater Lyon and Grenoble-Alpes Métropole. It appears in retreat compared to its two neighbors in terms of economic weight and wealth of its inhabitants.

Thus, the median tax revenue in 2010 was only 17,000 euros per year and per unit of consumption. This is 15% less than in the other two cities and 7% below the level of France excluding Île-de-France. Situations of precariousness are also more frequent. Nearly a quarter of households living below the poverty line, or 40,000 households. The unemployment rate is higher and the qualification of jobs lower.


Presentation and purpose of the "Families" project
Based on the observation that Secours Catholique wasn't present throughout the city of Saint-Etienne, our team in Loire launched a large participatory process to discuss on a reorganization of the activities on the territory. Indeed, Secours Catholique is very present in the city center, a little in the north but absent from the south of the city. Among the results of this discussion, we can mention the wish to create:
- A reception center for people in isolation,
- A specialized reception for asylum seekers
- A Roma team (intervention in particular in the Roma village of La Chaumassière)
- A project centered around families in precariousness.

All these projects have since yielded except for the "Families" project, lack of local.


The idea of the Families project is based on the wish to develop a specific support and parenting support action for parents with young children. This action, previously non-existent in Saint-Etienne territory, will be materialized by a space open to parents with young children with a dual purpose:
- A quality welcome place for young children (from 0 to 4 years old) and parents (or adults involved in the education of the child),
- A point of sale of second-hand baby equipment, support for meeting and accompaniment.

The objectives of this place, open to all parents:
- Help families to identify and develop their skills in order to regain confidence in their educational abilities,
- Make this place a tool for social integration and empowerment for families,
- Promote social bond and mutual help by developing collective times,
- Accompany families in making or resuming contact with existing common law mechanisms.


The target territory is the south of the city of Saint-Etienne, where currently the Secours Catholique offers no activity for families with young children. It is a territory where people in fragility are more numerous, hence the emergence of new needs, especially in childcare equipment. It responds to a real demand that the project team was able to verify during its exchanges with local social institutions but also during visits to associative partners, nurseries and other social centers. The project, built by the volunteers of St Etienne, according to the French Family Allowance, is the only one of its kind in the Loire department.

One of the strengths of this project is that it benefits from the commitment of competent early childhood volunteers from the health sector who are keen to bring this project to fruition, to bring their expertise to the families.

At first, it is envisaged to open the place 2 half days a week, with gradual rise.


The planned works
A local has been identified, on Docteur Charcot Street in Saint Etienne. This local, initially sold for € 50,000 was finally donated to Secours Catholique, the owner having been touched by the willingness and commitment of the team to complete his project. This is an old 180 m² printing house, located on the ground floor of a building dating from the 70s. It is lit by two large windows and has two accesses in opposition, which would facilitate compliance. with respect to fire safety standards. The room can be made accessible to people with reduced mobility through a transformation of the entrance, which can not anyway remain in the state due to its level of degradation. This is an empty concrete board, with some landscaping work to do.

The first estimates made by an architect suggest a necessary investment of about €150,000 to rehabilitate the place and develop it for the reception. This envelope includes the following items:
- Pre-diagnosis,
- Cleaning the site,
- Replacement of showcases,
- False ceiling, doubling of peripheral walls, partitioning,
- Flooring,
- Electricity,
- Modification of the heating,
- Creation of sanitary
- Furniture and equipment.

In addition, this school will eventually be able to host complementary activities around parenting and others, for example, French learning workshops.


We are currently in the process of seeking financing around this project. Work should start in early 2019.

Of course we will keep you posted about this new project.

Aug 31, 2018

Social and Solidarity Economy - BIS Boutique

Marc Jacobs dress - 18
Marc Jacobs dress - 18

The association Comptoir de la Voûte, created in 2011 by Secours Catholique - Caritas France, is an organization working on integration of unemployed persons by economic activity using the textile collected at Secours Catholique headquarters, 106 rue du Bac in Paris.

The people who are welcomed, most of them women, are salaried in the form of subsidized contracts. They participate in the economic activity of the organization and receive socio-professional support aiming permanent employment in the traditional economic circuit for the workers.

Comptoir de la Voûte's field of activity is the recycling of second-hand clothing, namely the collection, sorting, washing, ironing and marketing of garments in its stores, open to all publics. BIS boutique solidaire thus allows people with small financial means to acquire quality clothing at a very cheap price.

The activity began in January 2012 with the opening of a sorting workshop in the 19th district of Paris, followed in March 2012 by the opening of the store BIS boutique solidaire, Temple Boulevard, in the 3rd district. A second BIS boutique opened in 2016, Lamartine Street in the 9th district.

BIS boutique solidaire's positioning consists in marketing, in a high-end space, an ultra qualitative textile offer - only focused on fashionable, upscale, luxury, couture and vintage items - at a low price (10% of the new price), for women, men and children. This concept is relatively unique in Paris and remains in 2018 without competition in terms of value for money.

Comptoir de la Voûte annually collects 350 tons of textile (1.1 million garments), from 7 associative partners including Secours Catholique-Caritas France (whose headquarters, in the wealthy 7th district, allows a collection of high quality clothes). 170,000 clothes were delivered to BIS boutiques in 2017 and 50,000 distributed free of charge to its associative partners (Secours Catholique of Seine St Denis, Les Petits Frères des Pauvres and Corot Entraide).

To date, Comptoir de la Voûte has a 26 full-time staff (including 8 permanent and 18 subsidized positions) and since 2012, more than 130 integration courses have been created.


Since the start of the project, an extreme attention has been paid to the support's quality. People recruited are systematically far from employment, both socially and professionally. Employees are only recruited according to their motivation, regardless their eventual decision to go for a project or professional experience in the textile industry. There are very few pre-requisites for hiring, other than the need to have a driver's license.

Comptoir de la Voûte proposes an innovative support for workers on integration compared to other equivalent SSE (social and solidarity economy) organizations in at least two aspects:

  • an extremely professionalized approach regading the economic activity (management coming mainly from fashion, business concept, sorting and logistics methodology, reporting...) to generate significant revenues and dedicate significant resources to the workers' accompaniment,
  • truly employee-centered courses with a systematic priority given to the workers integration rather than the workshop's production, with long periods devoted to training, enabling achievements in terms of re-employment above average nowadays.

Indeed, workers in integration can benefit, during their working hours, from individual support (social diagnosis / orientation and follow-up, drawing up a skills report, developing a professional project, training in job search techniques and assistance in this research), external refresher training or vocational training, or even qualifying, ranging from a few days to several months.

Initially created in the form of a Workshop - a legal form strongly subsidized by the State - the organization has since been transformed into an integration company because of the important revenues realized in the shops. The impact of this status change is far from being neutral, since in the context of an integration company, government's grant for the funding of subsidized contracts is much lower.

Despite a very important commercial success of the concept BIS - the revenues of the 3rd district's boutique has progressed of 20% during the last 4 years, without significant increase of the prices - the level of margin remains low. This can be explained in particular by the cost of Paris's rental charges, the large workforce needed to carry out the activities and the fact that Comptoir de la Voûte acquires most of the volumes of textiles treated, unlike other associations like Emmaus who collects a lot of clothing donations.


In order to sustain its activity and its integration offer, Comptoir de la Voûte has focused its thinking on an ambitious development plan for 2018-2019. This development plan is based on two main areas of work:

  • the development of textile collection
  • the opening of a third Parisian sales point BIS boutique solidaire.

About the textile collection, the goal is to collect 500 tons of textile (at least) in 2019, which is a necessary condition to open the third BIS boutique solidaire. To reach this major challenge, several tracks have already been launched:

  • The development of new partnerships with textile collectors around the project. This is how the partnerships with 3 associations started in 2018. And new partnerships are being studied with 4 majors French associations.
  • It is planned to install in Paris, thirty or so collection points BIS boutique solidaire in partnership with associations that will provide a small space in their premises. A communication plan, supported in particular by the City of Paris, is planned to ensure the launch of these collection points.
  • Partnerships with Parisian stores that could accommodate BIS boutique solidarity containers are also planned.

The establishment of the third BIS boutique is planned in the 20th arrondissement of Paris in September 2019, in an eclectic neighbourhood. The commercial space will have a sales area of approximately 50 square meters on a high traffic location. The objective is to achieve, in a full year, a €500,000 revenue.

With this development plan, Comptoir de la Voûte hopes to absorb the fixed costs of the sorting workshop and considers a significant level of profitability by 2020 thanks to these scale economies, thus ensuring the sustainability of the organizations and their long-term integration offer.

The implementation of the 2018-2019 development plan should make it possible to significantly increase the supply of employment and integration. As of 2019, 10 additional positions will be created in all our activities, bringing the total number of structures to 36 full-time positions, including 24 subsidized contracts:
- 1 complementary position at the workshop to supervise pickup and logistics, which will become necessary with the increase in the number of collection points,
- 4 additional subsidized positions on driver functions and sorting agents,
- 2 additional store manager positions, made necessary for the opening of a third shop,
- 3 subsidized positions of additional sellers.

Over 3 years, more than 25 additional courses could be opened and with the creation of the new store, 25,000 additional sales per year, which will partly benefit people with low incomes.


The overall cost of the project is estimated at €270,000, distributed around the following axes:

  • development of textile collection (purchase of storage and communication solutions),
  • purchase of 2 commercial vehicles to cope with the huge increase in the number of collection points,
  • Rental and development and opening of the third BIS shop and launching communication.

Secours Catholique supported the creation of Comptoir de La Voûte for € 220,000 in 2011. Today, Secours Catholique has decided to participate in this development project, in line with the partnership that has linked the 2 organizations from the beginning and will therefore provide a €100,000 financial support to Comptoir de la Voûte.

Shirt Maje - Tara Jarmon skirt - 26
Shirt Maje - Tara Jarmon skirt - 26
Bis Boutique Solidaire
Bis Boutique Solidaire


WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.