News Release

Applications Are Open For The New And Improved 2024 Ontario Community Changemakers Program

Funding is now available to Ontarians aged 19 and over!

TORONTO— June 17, 2024 —

8 80 Cities is seeking applications for the 2024 – 2025 Ontario Community Changemakers program. Anyone residing in Ontario aged 19 and above with creative ideas to improve their communities in Ontario is encouraged to apply to take part in this innovative microgrant and leadership development program.

Thirty successful applicants will receive $5,000 to implement their project idea, leadership development training from 8 80 Cities, and peer-to-peer networking with other grassroots community champions. The 2024 program will run from October 2024 to September 2025, and the successful applicants will have 12 months to implement their projects. They will receive ongoing training and capacity building from the team at 8 80 Cities and a network of international public space experts.

“This year, the program is open to anyone aged 19 and above and we have added 10 spots expanding the cohort to 30 changemakers. The reason for doing this is that we found that many people get aged out of the youth funding category by the time they figure out their capacity and project ideas. We also realized how older people are re-imagining their potential and need support for their goals and we want to be that support for these groups of people,” says Jiya Benni, Project Manager at 8 80 Cities. “This is also very much in alignment with our vision of cities to be places for people to grow up, and grow old in. As an organization, we believe our communities need and depend on changemakers of all age groups.”

The OCC program strongly encourages applications from people of BIPOC and LGBTQ2SIA+ backgrounds, as well as individuals with lived experiences who are currently underrepresented in the placemaking sector. The program is accepting applications from residents aged 19 and above from communities of all sizes including rural areas, small towns, cities, and First Nations territories within Ontario.

“We are thrilled that the Ontario Community Changemakers program has become a platform for community leaders from diverse backgrounds and geographies, including those in small communities. Over the years, 15% of eligible applicants came from rural Ontario. We are keen to continue supporting changemakers from rural communities and communities in Northern Ontario like Thunder Bay, Rainy River and beyond,” said Amanda O’Rourke, Executive Director of 8 80 Cities.

The program will feature an in-person studio in Toronto and ongoing virtual coaching and capacity building. The studio curriculum will feature presentations and storytelling workshops by inspiring community leaders and skills-building workshops on project planning, community engagement, communication, and tactical urbanism.

Ontario Community Changemakers is powered by 8 80 Cities, a nonprofit organization committed to improving the quality of life for people in cities by bringing citizens together to enhance mobility and public space, with funding from Balsam Foundation.

To learn more about the successful OCC applicants in previous rounds, visit Ontario Community Changemakers.

To apply to the Ontario Community Changemakers program, applicants must submit their ideas at by July 26th, 2024, 5:00 pm EDT (4:00 pm CDT).

About 8 80 Cities

8 80 Cities is a nonprofit organization based in Toronto, Canada. We are dedicated to contributing to the transformation of cities into places where people can walk, bike, access public transit and visit vibrant parks and public places. Our approach is to engage people and communities across multiple sectors to inspire the creation of cities that are easily accessible, safe, and enjoyable for all. We achieve our mission through grant projects, research and advocacy, and innovative services. For more, visit:

About Balsam Foundation

Balsam Foundation exists to enable and galvanize the well-being and potential of our communities. We are committed to a future where all Canadians benefit from a high standard of health and well-being. For this reason, our funding will reflect approaches that put people first, strike a balance between personal and collective wellness, and acknowledge the impact of social determinants of health and the context within which people live, work and play. For more, visit

Media Contact

Jiya Benni, Project Manager 8 80 Cities,, 647-800-5590