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2023 Ontario Community Changemakers Program – Applications Due May 14, 2023

March 14, 2023 @ 8:00 am - May 14, 2023 @ 11:59 pm

Applications are open for the 2023 Ontario Community Changemakers Program!

8 80 Cities is seeking applications for the 2023 Ontario Community Changemakers Program. Young leaders aged 19-35 with creative ideas to improve their communities in Ontario are encouraged to apply to take part in this innovative micro-grant and leadership development program.  

Twenty 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 2023 program will run from June 2023 to June 2024. 

8 80 Cities received over 183 applications in its first and second years and has funded and supported 40 Changemakers from across the province, each with inspired ideas and a passion for activating public space, enhancing civic engagement, and/or fostering social inclusion. 

The OCC program, funded by the Balsam Foundation, was created to serve as a launchpad for emerging community leaders and create a network for young civic innovators and public space advocates that reflect the diversity of people and geography of Ontario.  

“The program’s mission is to support and elevate the voices of emerging civic leaders in communities across Ontario to inspire and enact change. Now going into our third year, we have seen the wide-reaching impact that these micro-grants have had across Ontario and how our past changemakers’ projects have grown into fully operational community organizations” said Shannon Lawrence, Project Manager of 8 80 Cities.  “It has been absolutely fantastic to see our changemakers grow beyond the OCC program and take their ideas to the next level as community leaders and as mentors to the next cohort. From small-scale community foodbanks to the exploration of how culture and health intersect at the urban scale, the 2022 Changemakers are making a difference. We are looking forward to seeing what fresh ideas the 2023 – 2024 cohort will bring.”  

The OCC program strongly encourages applications from BIPOC applicants and individuals with lived experiences that are currently underrepresented in the placemaking sector. The program is accepting applications from residents aged 19-35 from communities of all sizes including rural communities, small towns, cities, and First Nations territories. 

In the last two years of the program, 61% of eligible applicants identified as BIPOC. “We are thrilled that the Ontario Community Changemakers program is providing a useful new platform for community leaders from a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and geographies to test out their creative ideas to support positive community change” said Amanda O’Rourke, Executive Director of 8 80 Cities.  

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

The 20 successful applicants will have 12 months to implement their idea and will receive ongoing training and capacity building from the team at 8 80 Cities as well as a network of international public space experts. 

Ontario Community Changemakers is led 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. 

To learn more about the successful OCC applicants in round 2 visit here.  

To apply to the Ontario Community Changemakers program, applicants must submit their ideas at www.ontariocommunitychangemakers.org by May 14th, 2023, 11:59 pm EDT (10:59 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 our innovative services. For more, visit: 880cities.org

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 balsamfoundation.com


March 14, 2023 @ 8:00 am
May 14, 2023 @ 11:59 pm
Event Category:


880 Cities
Balsam Foundation