Do you have an idea to improve your community?

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

Applications for the 2023 Ontario Community Changemakers program are now closed. Thank you to all applicants! Stay tuned for news on the winners! 

What is Ontario Community Changemakers?

Ontario Community Changemakers (OCC) is an exciting micro-grant program created for young Ontario residents to help spark new ideas and invigorate change in their local communities. In its third year, the program supports leaders from diverse 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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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. 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 between the ages of 19 and 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 LGBTQ2SIA+ backgrounds as well as individuals with lived experiences that are currently underrepresented in the placemaking sector.


Applications are now closed. Thank you to all who applied for the 2023 – 2024 program!

1 year. $5,000 in seed funding

The selected Changemakers will receive $5000 (the first disbursement of $4500 will be given at the start the project and the final $500 will be disbursed after the submission of the final report) 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.

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This year’s Studio will consist of one two-hour online session and two full-day in-person sessions in June 2023 in Toronto. There will be regular monthly sessions after that until June 2024. The 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 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 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 June 19, 24 and 25, 2023. Day 1 (June 19, 2023) will be virtual and will take place in the evening. Day 2 (June 24, 2023) and Day 3 (June 25, 2023) 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 2023 program.
* Read more about the studio here.


Applications are now closed. Thank you to all who applied for the 2023 – 2024 program!

Thank You!

Thank you to our wonderful Advisory Committee – Steve Anderson, Niko Casuncad, Shannon Holness, Tt Scott, Selina Young - who have helped shape this program right from its beginning. Click here to get to know them!