Archive for February, 2016

Highlights of the Institutional Food Learning Group meeting Guelph, Jan 2016.


Guest post by Jennifer Reynolds, Institutional Food Program Manager at Food Secure Canada. This post was originally published on the Food Secure Canada Website. It was republished here with the permission of the author


For the past year and a half Food Secure Canada and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation have been learning with the Institutional Food Learning Group, a cohort of eight diverse projects from across Canada, on how to effectively change the procurement practices of hospitals, schools, campuses and other larger food purchasers to prompt supply chain shifts towards more sustainable food production and systems.

Yet working as individuals to change the purchasing practices and institutional culture to prioritize sourcing more local, sustainable ingredients can be a daunting task. It requires patience and perseverance in learning how to navigate complex supply chains and and make changes in institutional food service operations. And when things get challenging it’s important to come back to the many reasons for doing this work including – to increase health and sustainability, to revitalize rural communities, to create a positive food culture – and this need for re-energizing is at the core of why the Learning Group comes together.

Learning from practitioners and site visits

university_of_guelph_visit_-_fscThe Learning Group met at the end of January 2016 in southern Ontario for three days to continue their learning from each other and to visit a school, hospital, campus and food distributor (links below) that are all working towards the goal of more fresh, local food being served in institutions.  Participants also heard about innovative procurement projects supported by the Greenbelt Fund’s Broader Public Sector Grant Stream including the Public Purse Procurement – 3P Mentorship Program and the journey of MEALsource, a public sector group purchasing organization for 33 health care food service locations in Ontario, in procuring from VG Meats (a local sustainable cattle processor) – check out their inspiring case study! (more…)

#callresponse: Situating Indigenous women in re/conciliation


Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory

Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and Tanya Tagaq, performance, 2015. (Photo: Front of House Photography )


Guest article by Tarah Hogue, lead curator of the #callresponse project. This article was originally published on the Canada Council website. It is republished here with the permission of the author.

#Callresponse, is a socially-engaged work that brings together 5 site-specific art commissions across the country and uses social media and a dedicated project website to connect the sites and generate discussion. The project is one of 6 funded through the Reconciliation initiative made possible through a partnership between the Canada Council, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada (The Circle).


Taanishi Tarah dishinihkaashoon. Hello, my name is Tarah. I’m greeting you in the Michif language of the Métis people of Manitoba.

I’m learning Michif online from the Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research, with audio pronunciation by Michif-language expert Norman Fleury. It’s one example of how the internet can be a wonderful tool for Indigenous Peoples to reconnect to our culture, histories and languages. As Jarrett Martineau, Creative Producer of (Revolutions Per Minute), a global platform for Indigenous musicians, has said: Much Indigenous media work is about building community, asserting our strength, taking charge of representation and control for ourselves.

Christi Belcourt with Isaac Murdoch, work in progress, video still. Courtesy of the artist.

Christi Belcourt with Isaac Murdoch, work in progress, video still. Courtesy of the artist.


Pour 3 Points: How a longstanding relationship transformed into a grant

Pour 3 Points EN

This post was originally published on LinkedIn. It has been republished here with the author’s permission. See the original French language version here

Guest post by Fabrice Vil, Executive Director of Pour 3 Points.


Just yesterday we announced the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation’s $150,000 donation to Pour 3 Points! This is a major donation, three times the size of any donation received by our young organization in the past. This is certainly cause for celebration, especially as the Foundation is known all across the country as a leader in social innovation. But our organization is just as grateful for the context in which this contribution was received. I have three observations in that regard.


A Transformational Relationship


The funding application that we sent to the McConnell Foundation in 2015 was the logical culmination of a longstanding transformational relationship that is as rich as the funds eventually received. Since our first meeting with the president of the foundation in 2012, we have obtained informal advice on our strategic approach (in 2013) and participated in a strategic planning process and informal exchange group put together by the Foundation (in 2014). Our relationship with this organization has always been one of common reflection upon best practices for social innovation, and it has always been about learning from one another, regardless of funding issues. In this regard, the McConnell Foundation’s financial support is only one aspect of a fulfilling collaborative relationship that, we hope, will last a long time. Furthermore, the funding will ensure that Pour 3 Points remains an organization well in tune with what it takes to bring about major change.


Discovering the world of Social Finance


This article was originally published on the RECODE website. Click here to see the original version. 

By Alexandra Reda, International Business Graduate, Concordia University

The world of social finance and impact investing was new to me.


This past summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the Social Finance team at the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation—an experience unlike any I’ve had elsewhere. Prior to this internship, I had a very traditional finance banking background and had worked at a portfolio management company for the last three years.

All this quickly changed, as the team taught me about the Foundation’s current portfolio and their strategy for the coming years.

Currently, the portfolio is made up of diverse risk-return profiles, which are directed to charities, nonprofit, for-profit social ventures, for-profit start-ups and even corporations. Despite the variety in the portfolio, all investments follow the Foundation’s impact investing objectives and deliver impact on one or more levels of society and societal change. This tactic can lead to a ripple effect as other foundations and institutions (for example schools) begin to think of innovative ways to allocate their endowments.

One of the Foundation’s investments—$5M with the Canadian venture capital firm Real Ventures—caught my attention. Its mission is to “serve entrepreneurs and nurture the communities in which they thrive”. Researching the companies that are part of Real Ventures portfolio, I was pleased to discover an abundance of innovative ideas serving a social purpose. For example, Causemo aims to make charitable giving social and mobile. The company intends to launch its own app enabling cause discovery, donations, tracking and social features. The Real Ventures fund has allowed them to reach 15,000 donors in 2015. Another example is a company called Varage Sale. This startup aims to make the process of finding, buying or selling used goods safer and more convenient than mainstream options such as Craigslist, eBay or classified ads, while also creating bonds between neighbours. Discovering funds like Real Ventures that support social entrepreneurs inspired me to start asking myself: How can I help people in an innovative way?


WellAhead Co-Design: What exactly happened?

Mali_Blog Author

This blog post was originally published on the WellAhead website. It has been reproduced here with the author’s permission.

In August of 2015, most people we talked with said we were quite likely crazy. Well, not all said it exactly that way: ‘those timelines are ambitious’, ‘schools move very slowly’, and ‘did you say first even in September?!!’ were other versions of what we heard. Internally, our team wondered the same: was it completely unrealistic to aim for some kind of ‘ideation’ sessions early in the fall?