Do you have an idea to improve your community?

Ontario Community Changemakers is a fellowship and micro-grant program for young civic innovators with bold ideas to activate public space, enhance civic engagement and foster social inclusion. This program is powered by 8 80 Cities and funded by Balsam Foundation.



Applications for the 2021-2022 fellowship are now closed.

What is Ontario Community Changemakers?

Ontario Community Changemakers (OCC) is an exciting new micro-grant program created for young Ontario residents to help spark new ideas and invigorate change in their local communities. This program seeks innovative mindsets from all backgrounds to make a difference in their communities through creative and fresh ideas that will activate public space, enhance civic engagement, and/or foster social inclusion.


We are looking for ideas that fall under these three themes.


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Public Space

Public spaces are areas or places that are open and accessible to all. They play a key role in impacting the social determinants of health and support community wellbeing. Sidewalks, streets, libraries, parks, plazas, trails, and community centres are all potential locations for project ideas that create renewed energy, life, and vibrancy to local communities.


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Civic Engagement

Bringing people and communities together to address common challenges or increase awareness of important issues is a fundamental aspect of civic engagement. OCC is looking for project ideas that spur people to take collective action and increase community participation in civic processes.

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Social Inclusion

Our society has many barriers, both visible and invisible, preventing marginalized communities from accessing public spaces and participating in public life. Projects that address those barriers and seek to foster social inclusion for people regardless gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation or socio-economic status are exactly what OCC is all about.

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Who Can Apply?

The program’s mission is to elevate the voices of new and emerging civic leaders in communities across Ontario to inspire and enact change. No project is too bold or daring as we believe outside-the-box thinking will propel us forward in creating equitable change. The Ontario Community Changemakers program is open to those residing in the Province of Ontario between the ages of 19 to 35 that have a creative solution to a challenge related to public space, civic engagement and/or social inclusion. Applicants may be activists, tactical urbanists, designers, artists, educators, entrepreneurs and more. We greatly encourage applications from BIPOC and LGBT2Q+ backgrounds as well as individuals with lived experiences that are currently underrepresented in the placemaking sector.


1 year. $5,000 in seed funding

The selected Changemakers will receive $5000 in seed funding to implement one community project in one year. These projects must address public space, civic engagement and/or foster social inclusion. We are looking for projects that respond to community needs, build on local assets, and are implemented through collaboration. The projects must be located in the Province of Ontario or First Nations territories that are within the provincial boundary of Ontario.

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Virtual Studio

This year, considering the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the program will be completely online, beginning with a Virtual Studio in August 2021 and regular online sessions after that until August 2022. The Virtual Studio will equip the Changemakers with the tools they need to begin implementing their community projects and connect them with other Changemakers from across the province.


The Ontario Changemakers Network

Changemakers join a supportive and inspiring network of their peers from across Ontario. Participants receive ongoing guidance from experts in diverse fields such as planning, design, marketing and more. 8 80 Cities and Balsam Foundation will expose participants to opportunities for professional growth and support along the way.


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Are You Eligible?

Must be 19-35 years old at the time of application

Must be able to attend Virtual Studio*

Project must be located in the Province of Ontario or in a First Nations Territory within the provincial boundary of Ontario.


Applicants must propose a community project that activates public space, enhances civic engagement, and/or fosters social inclusion.

*Support will be arranged for participants with technical barriers.