Archive for 2017

Why a Study Tour in Boston?

Boston is home to cutting-edge initiatives in social entrepreneurship (EforAll, the MassChallenge); neighbourhood revitalization and civic innovation (The Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Roxbury Innovation Center); and youth engagement and social innovation (YouthBuild, DesignX-MIT and Mission Hill School). The city also inspires practitioners who have done extensive research in sustainability, smart cities and inclusion. Boston is not only an innovation hub, it is also one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the United States. From the historic streets of nearby Cambridge to the artistic Victorian town houses of Black Bay, the city suits a variety of lifestyles.

From November 14 to 16, 2016, a group of 28 Canadian innovators met with representatives from 13 Boston changemaking organizations and professors from Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts University to share expertise and feedback on how to build more inclusive, resilient and innovative cities. Believing that agents of city change come from all sectors and walks of life, the itinerary catered to a diverse group of stakeholders involved in city-making: entrepreneurs, researchers, community leaders and members of the private sector. Having a multidisciplinary group allowed us to learn different approaches to tackle similar issues.

Download the report to learn more.

From Non-Profit to a For-Charity Business: An Innovative Funding Model for a Good Cause

By Justin Scaini, Capitalize for Kids

Every non-profit or charity has its own unique challenges it must overcome to provide great services, and keep the doors open. The one challenge almost all organizations can relate to is finding funding. Each institution has its own “secret sauce” for how to attract dollars. Whether it’s government funding, individual donations, corporate partnerships, a social enterprise, or other models of funding, each organization looks for funds that will work in its unique context.

Capitalize for Kids was founded in 2013, and was built around a unique funding method that has helped us become financially sustainable. We built the organization as a business first. We are a non-profit, but we think of ourselves as a for charity business.

We designed the organization with a specific attention to what product or service people will pay for that will specifically benefit and add value to them or their businesses. Rather than rewarding a specific group of shareholders, we allocate funds to children’s brain and mental health research, and run a capacity-building consulting program for evidence-based mental health service providers.

Every year we host Canada’s top Investors Conference.

We welcome over 20 money managers to speak about their best investment ideas in front of over 400 senior executives at the top banks, pensions, and family offices. This event raises about $1.5 million annually, and to date we have raised over $4 million for the cause. Everyone is at the conference because it benefits their business. We only use about 15 minutes of this two-day event to talk about children’s brain and mental health.

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Cities Reducing Poverty | Bringing All Voices To The Table

By: Megan Wanless, Senior Community Animator

Poverty is a complex issue. It’s an issue that cannot be approached in isolation or solved by a select few – it effects everyone, is experienced by people in different ways, and involves a significant number of interrelated elements and stakeholders. We know this. We know that when working on complex problems, such as poverty, finding comprehensive solutions requires communities to come together to leverage and better understand their assets – knowledge, experience, skills and resources – to truly see and act on the issue from all angles.

Momentum around the importance of bringing everyone to the table to combat complex issues has been growing over the years, particularly with the introduction of collective impact in 2011 (See: Kania and Kramer, 2011). Over the last 15 years Vibrant Communities Canada (a division of the Tamarack Institute) has been building a network of cities committed to working collaboratively to reduce poverty. Cities Reducing Poverty is a collective impact movement of 57 member cities or regions who together aim to reduce poverty through local interventions at the individual and household levels and through policy and systems changes. These local, multi-sector initiatives are bolstered by provincial and territorial poverty reduction strategies and by the federal government’s recent mandate to develop a Canadian poverty reduction strategy. Together, we are in the midst of a country-wide movement to overcome poverty.

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Ancient stories, new technology: Indigenous media treads new ground

by Cara McKenna

Ryan McMahon is finding power in voices with Makoons Media Group 

Now is the time for Indigenous people to break new ground in media, says Janet Rogers, who has worked in radio for a decade. Rogers hosts a show called Native Waves Radio on CFUV in Victoria. “We’re picking up these tools on our own and without the colonized filter, we’re kind of fumbling our way towards creating and maintaining a voice through the medium of podcasting.”

It’s not a simple task, says Ryan McMahon, founder of Makoons Media Group, whose best known success to date is the Indian & Cowboy podcast network. “White people have always controlled the gaze … and that gaze has always exploited us and our weaknesses,” he says. McMahon wants to change this and is scaling up his vision of an Indigenous podcast network, with support from the Indigenous Innovation Demonstration Fund (IIDF).    

The Indigenous Innovation Demonstration Fund provides support to organizations seeking to develop or expand their Indigenous social innovation and social enterprise. The Fund was created through a partnership of the National Association of Friendship Centres, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.

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Montreal subway cars get new life and revitalize public space

By Elvira Truglia 

Montreal’s South West is in the midst of transformation. Some residents have had roots in the borough for generations, while others have flocked to the area attracted by new housing as well as business opportunities.

Two young entrepreneurs want to create a unique space in the borough that will pay homage to Montreal’s history while opening up space for locals to mix and enjoy the arts. Brothers Frédéric and Etiénne Morin-Bordeleau are going to integrate eight Montreal métro cars, called the MR-63, into a three-storey sculpture that will house a community space, café-bar and art gallery. Montreal’s transport agency (STM) approved Project MR-63 along with six other submissions to repurpose the retiring metro cars after putting out a call for submissions in the spring.

With the brothers’ goal to make art accessible, MR-63 will be a place for emerging and established artists to exhibit their work. It’s one of the reasons South West borough Mayor, Benoit Dorais enthusiastically endorsed the project.

A new public space for a borough in transition 

Art is seen as the equalizer for the borough with mixed social backgrounds. “I think we need to be able to provide locations where there will be opportunities for all people to rub shoulders,” says Dorais. He sees MR-63 as a way “to promote the arts while respecting the history of the neighbourhood, the history of the South West, and the history of Montreal”.

Locating the MR-63 building in the Quartier de l’innovation (QI), a district in the southwest of the city that straddles Montreal’s cultural, artistic, economic, technological and multimedia boundaries, seems like a logical fit.

He thinks the innovative sculptural form of the building will act as the calling card but that people will stay and return because of its functionality.

Exhibits will give visibility to local artists who will also be given opportunities to build their capacity to market their art and run their own businesses.

The café-bar will introduce people to locally produced food and eco-friendly vendors. The community space will also host public events, and will be available to rent for private events.

“In short, what we want to do is to use MR-63 to animate public space,” says Dorais.

 

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