Archive for 2011

Introducing Innoweave — Tools & Networks for Social Innovation

The Foundation is excited to announce the launch of Innoweave, an initiative that provides community sector leaders with new tools and processes to effect large-scale change.

In collaboration with Social Innovation Generation (SiG), thought leaders, academics, and prospective partners from the private and public sectors, Innoweave will address critical operational and strategic needs within the community sector.

Innoweave will consist of several complementary products and services, including workshops, support networks and a website.

The first Innoweave workshop: Platformation, held on November 22 and 23 in Toronto, was produced with Framework. Anil Patel, Co-founder and Executive Director of Framework, introduced cloud computing and new information and communications technology (ICT) strategies to more than ninety participants.

A Platformation Support Fund is now available to help organizations implement ICT strategies that include the use of cloud computing tools. Eligible organizations may apply for up to $7,500 and networks for up to $25,000. To learn more about this fund, click here.

To learn more about Innoweave and Platformation, visit

Private Capital for Public Good

The one year anniversary of the release of the Canadian Task Force on Social Finance‘s landmark report, Mobilizing Private Capital for Public Good, was celebrated at the official launch of the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing and the 2011 Social Finance Forum: Investing in Good Deals on December 13 and 14 in Toronto.

Nearly four hundred people attended the evening reception celebrating the official launch of the Centre, which is jointly funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the McConnell Foundation and TMX Group Inc. At the reception, guest speaker Antony Bugg-Levine, formerly of the Rockefeller Foundation and now head of Nonprofit Finance Fund, launched his new book, Impact Investing: Transforming How We Make Money While Making a Difference.

Following the reception, the Centre hosted the Social Finance Forum, an annual forum supporting the growth of social finance and impact investing in Canada. The Forum brought social ventures, impact investors and mainstream finance practitioners together with the aim of providing practical education and support to mobilize the exchange of capital and inspire new ideas.

The forum presented leading social finance experts, including Amit Bouri, Director of Strategy and Development at the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), who highlighted the importance of measuring social and environmental impact.

The forum also coincided with the Task Force’s release of Mobilizing Private Capital for Public Good – Measuring Progress During Year One, a progress report highlighting some of the developments relevant to the recommendations of the Task Force over the past year.

A video highlighting many of the forum’s key events and presentations can be viewed here.

Official Launch of the Diploma in Social Innovation

On November 25, faculty, students, and collaborators gathered for the official launch of the University of Waterloo‘s Diploma in Social Innovation. Created by the University in partnership with the Foundation, the diploma’s goal is to respond to Canada’s most pressing social and environmental challenges.

“To successfully address the complex problems we face as a society, it is essential that we learn to work collaboratively among the private, public and community sectors,” said the Foundation’s Stephen Huddart. “The J. W. McConnell Family Foundation is pleased to support the Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation and looks forward to the new partnerships, fresh thinking and actionable solutions that emerge from this talented group of faculty and students.”

Thirty-three participants from across Canada are enrolled, with a first year focus on three key issues: aging, newcomers to Canada and mental health. Led by Frances Westley—the J. W. McConnell Chair in Social Innovation and Director of the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience—the program draws on the expertise of world-renowned academics and expert practitioners and thought leaders from across the country.

Click here to learn more about the Diploma in Social Innovation.

Learning Network Launched!

Foundation grantee The Stop Community Food Centre recently launched an online Learning Network to share resources and foster dialogue about community food centre programming.

The Stop is an innovative community food centre where people come together to grow, cook and eat food, as well as to advocate for measures that can increase food security in the community.

Visit the new Learning Network to learn more.

Canada’s Boreal Forest Agreement

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement—a landmark agreement bringing together leading environmental organizations and major forest companies in an effort to conserve the biodiversity of Canada’s Boreal Forest—was featured in the November issue of Business 2020, a magazine on business and biodiversity.

The article, Canada in forefront of conserving biodiversity of Boreal Forest, highlights the six goals of the agreement.

A Foundation grant to Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, one of the agreement’s signatories, supports environmental organization participation in negotiations and implementation of the agreement.

A New Way to Measure Happiness

The Foundation supported Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW)—an intiative of the Atkinson Charitable Foundation—which reports on the wellbeing of Canadians by tracking 64 indicators in 8 areas, was recently profiled in the Montreal Gazette.

Focusing on the areas of leisure and culture, community vitality, living standards, environment, democratic engagement, education, healthy populations and time use, CIW’s findings provide a critical measurement of our societal progress and reveal where improvements are needed.

As the article highlights, “The index shows that while the country’s GDP grew by 31 per cent between 1994 and 2008, our well-being measure lagged well behind, at 11-per-cent growth. In practical terms, this means children are spending more time in front of computers, income inequality has widened, women are increasingly pressed for time, greenhouse-gas emissions are rising and voter turnout is sliding badly.”

Drawing upon their findings, CIW aims to promote a dialogue on how to improve wellbeing through evidence-based policies that are responsive to the needs and values of Canadians.

Visit the Canadian Index of Wellbeing to learn more.

Click here to read the full article from the Montreal Gazette.

Vibrant Communities: Cities Reducing Poverty

The Foundation is pleased to highlight Tamarack Institute’s latest publication, Cities Reducing Poverty: How Vibrant Communities are Creating Comprehensive Solutions to the Most Complex Problem of our Times.

Through stories and a unique analysis by editor Mark Cabaj, Cities Reducing Poverty details the poverty reduction efforts of collaborative groups in six Canadian cities—Calgary, Montreal, Surrey, Hamilton, Saint John, and the Niagara region.

The cities are part of the Vibrant Communities initiative—a comprehensive, community-driven, cross-Canada, poverty reduction effort—and “are achieving remarkable results because they’re using creative, comprehensive approaches based on real, on-the-ground knowledge of —and experience of—the complex nature of poverty.”

To order a copy of Cities Reducing Poverty or to learn more about the work of Vibrant Communities visit

Changemakers Competition Now Open!

It’s official! The Changemakers Competition, Inspiring Approaches to First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning, is now open.

The competition—an initiative of Ashoka Canada and several foundation partners, including McConnell—will solicit innovative projects and ideas to improve First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning, using the Changemakers collaborative online platform. The platform will allow participants to share ideas, access resources and connect with a community of innovators from across Canada and around the world.

Prizes will be awarded in each region of the country, and cover Early Childhood Education to Post-Secondary Education and Career Training.

Do you have ideas for new and inspiring approaches to First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning? Ashoka Changemakers wants to hear them.

For more information about the competition and awards, visit

Farm-to-School in the News

The Farm-to-School program, which matches participating schools with farmers or small networks of growers who are paid fair market value to supply produce, is proving successful in many British Columbia schools. With Foundation support it is preparing to expand across Canada, widening its focus to Farm-to-Cafeteria to work with hospitals, long-term care facilities and even ferries!

Recently highlighted in the Globe and Mail, the program teaches students about more than just the food chain, by integrating health, environmental studies, sociology, economics and agriculture.

The integrative B.C. curriculum seems to have won over young palettes to the joys of the salad bar while regenerating community interest in growing fresh produce. Students are lining up for lunch at the 50 or so salad bars that have cropped up across B.C. school cafeterias.

Read the full Globe and Mail article here.

Author Lone Frank at Paragraphe Books!

Join us November 9th (6:30 p.m.) at Paragraphe Books in Montreal for a reading from My Beautiful Genome, followed by a Q&A with author Lone Frank.

In My Beautiful Genome, Frank—a renowned science writer and speaker—chronicles her own experience with personal genomics.

The event, co-hosted by the Foundation, Blue Metropolis Foundation and Maisonneuve Magazine is open to the public.

Paragraphe Books is located at 2220 McGill College Ave, Montreal.

For more information, contact communications(at)

We hope to see you there!