Do you have an idea to improve your community?

Ontario Community Changemakers is a leadership and micro-grant program for people with bold ideas to activate public space, enhance civic engagement and foster social inclusion in their communities. This program, in its fourth year, is open to anyone aged 19 and over. The program is powered by 8 80 Cities and funded by Balsam Foundation.

Applications for the 2024 – 2025 program are now open. The deadline is 5:00 PM (EDT) on July 26, 2024.

Opening Up the Program to Support More Changemakers Across Multiple Generations

After three years of supporting and mentoring 60 Changemakers in 25 communities across Ontario, we are excited to share that the program is now open to anyone aged 19 and above and that we have added 10 extra spots, expanding the cohort to 30 changemakers.

 

We envision cities as places where people can grow up and grow old, where everyone has the right to safe and active mobility, welcoming and accessible public spaces and inclusive city-building processes. We believe our communities need and depend on changemakers of different age groups. In recognition, the Ontario Community Changemakers program is now open to anyone aged 19 and over in Ontario.

 

If you are a doer, a community leader, or someone inspired to bring people together to create positive change in your community, apply to the Ontario Community Changemakers program.

A group of adults and teens painting the floor of a public outdoor space in bright hues of pink, blue and green.

What is Ontario Community Changemakers?

Ontario Community Changemakers (OCC) is a leadership and micro-grant program created for Ontario residents to help spark new ideas and invigorate change in their local communities. In its fourth year, the program supports leaders from diverse ages, backgrounds and lived experiences to deliver their own creative projects that will activate public space, enhance civic engagement, and/or foster social inclusion.

 

We are looking for ideas that fall under the following three themes:

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Activate
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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Enhance
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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Foster
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 of gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation or socio-economic status is exactly what OCC is all about.

Two young women, one wearing a headscarf, smiling in front of a signage pole.

Who Can Apply?

The program’s mission is to elevate the voices of community leaders across Ontario to inspire and enact change. No project is too bold or daring. We believe that 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 who are 19 years or older 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 LGBTQ2SIA+ backgrounds as well as individuals with lived experiences that are currently underrepresented in the placemaking sector.

 

Applications for the 2024 – 2025 program are now open. The deadline is 5:00 PM (EDT) on July 26, 2024.

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 in the Province of Ontario or First Nations territories that are within the provincial boundary of Ontario.

Glowing blue furniture in a well lit alleyway in winter
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Studio

This year’s Studio will consist of one two-hour online session and two full-day in-person sessions in October 2024 in Toronto. There will be regular monthly sessions after that until September 2025. The Studio will inspire the Changemakers and equip them with the tools they need to begin implementing their community projects. The renewed program will connect and help Changemakers to learn from each other across multiple generations, geographies, and lived experiences.

The Ontario Changemakers Network

Changemakers join a supportive and inspiring network of 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.

A group photo of twenty young people in an industrial office building with an LGBTQ+ flag hanging in the backgorund.
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Are You Eligible?

Must be 19 years or over at the time of application.

Preference will be given to those who can attend all three days of the Studio.*

Applicants must reside in the Province of Ontario or in a First Nations Territory within the provincial boundary of Ontario during the time of project implementation.

Project must take place 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.

*The Studio will take place on October 17, 26 and 27, 2024. Day 1 (October 17, 2024) will be virtual and will take place in the evening. Day 2 (October 26, 2024) and Day 3 (October 27, 2024) will be in-person in Toronto and will be two full days. Travel, meals, and accommodation will be provided to the successful applicants that are chosen for the 2024 program. 
*Read more about the studio here.

Applications for the 2024 – 2025 program are now open. The deadline is 5:00 PM (EDT) on July 26, 2024.