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CSI Network News: It’s time to rethink scale



Every Sunday, we curate solutions, stories, community events, jobs, and funding opportunities in our weekly newsletter. Here’s this week’s CSI Network News.

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Next Economy


Rethinking Scale to Drive Down Carbon: A Conversation with Mary Pickering

Rethinking Scale to Drive Down Carbon: A Conversation with Mary Pickering

What does “scale” really mean? For a traditional accelerator or business, scale likely means creating processes that generate growth in product and profit. At The Atmospheric Fund (TAF), scale means increasing impact. We have so many climate solutions already, yet most of them struggle to scale. Scale looks like reducing more carbon, and quickly. Except, as TAF’s VP of Strategy and Partnerships, Mary Pickering, explains, it’s not that simple:

“We need to look at things more broadly. We have to think about multiple outcomes. We talk about multi-solving. Not just because we have to solve everything at once. Because if we don’t consider all the different elements, our single issues are likely to fail. Maybe we get one win; maybe we lose it at the next election. We didn’t build broad enough support. We have to design to make these climate issues relevant. And that’s not fast. That’s slow.”

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Forced Canadian Grantmakers to Loosen Up

Flexible (unrestricted) funding is incredibly important — it allows the recipient to allocate funds where they can have the most impact. This could mean using those funds to support programming, but it can also help cover operational expenses like salaries, equipment, and rent. Yet, only about 9% of all grants distributed globally in 2020 were unrestricted.

In this article, Brennan Doherty outlines why we need to give decision-making power back to the communities and people the grants are meant to serve.

It echoes our conversation with Jeff Cyr, Co-Founder of Raven Indigenous Capital Partners, about the Community-Driven Outcomes Contract. It’s a social finance model where the beneficiary of a project will get to determine priorities and methods before they look for capital. Instead of being prescriptive about how funds can be used, it looks to the people who best understand the problems we’re trying to solve — and the solutions that will work — to determine how to move forward.

Stories from
the Network


Welcome desk at CSI Spadina.

Financial partnership enables social enterprise mission
Early on in the pandemic, the social impact sector took a huge blow. At CSI, 9% of our members were forced to close their doors permanently. These were social enterprises, advocacy groups, charities, and nonprofits — organizations that put people and planet first.We knew we had to figure out a way to keep our members afloat. We didn’t want anyone else to have to shut their doors because they can no longer afford rent or membership fees due to COVID-19. After all, CSI is a community built by, and for, community.With the Vancity Community Investment Bank (VCIB)’s support, we worked together on a new financial relationship, which enabled us to create a community rent pool and offer it to our hundreds of member organizations.In the words of our CEO, Tonya Surman: “We’ve been able to continue to offer services to our members in ways we wouldn’t have been able to if VCIB hadn’t been there. Not foreclosing on us, but checking in and actively problem solving with us!”


CSI Connects


Climate Ventures Conversations with Dr. Melissa Lem, Director of PaRx and President-Elect of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE).

Climate Ventures Conversations: Dr. Melissa Lem of PaRx and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE)
Tuesday, April 20, 12:00 – 1:00 PM ET
How are Canadian doctors advocating for healthy people, a healthy planet, and a healthy recovery? Dr. Melissa Lem will share learnings from her work alongside CAPE doing just that.

Earth Day 2021

NYC Earth Day: Digital Fair
Monday, April 19
Hear from CSI Climate Ventures Members and explore 95 brands working on climate change in our virtual space in celebration of Earth Day 2021!


CSI Cinema Shorts!

CSI Cinema SHORTS! Celebrates National Film Day
Wednesday, April 21, 12:30 – 1:15 PM ET
In support of CSI Member Reel Canada and National Film Day, we’ll be screening a mini-festival of short films (3-15 minutes long) told by Canadian and Indigenous filmmakers. This event is for CSI Members only (details on The Common Platform).

It’s Up To Us


Community Crisis and Activist Resources for the Greater Toronto Area, a living, add-to document compiled and maintained by the Bureau of Power and Light.

Geoff Doner is the co-founder of the Bureau of Power and Light, an artistic collective he runs with his partner Andrea Battersby. A longtime community member, Geoff’s held roles with our DECA and staff teams, and pre-pandemic was one of the incredibly talented staff we employed to support our events business.

He’s created a directory of resources and immediate supports that folks might need right now. If you have anything to add, you’re invited to contribute by commenting on the doc.



Want to get your events on our events calendar? Find out what membership could look like for you!


National Canadian Film Day

National Canadian Film Day
Wednesday, April 21
National Canadian Film Day is a massive one-day, coast-to-coast-to-coast celebration of Canadian cinema. CSI Member Reel Canada has compiled a list of free-to-attend film screenings, livestreams, and Q&As as well as instructions for how to organize a watch party.Are you a teacher or educator? You can borrow Canadian films from Reel Canada’s Lending Library at any time. (You’ll get a streaming link that will be active for 7 days.) This is for educational purposes only, and strictly within Canada.

Hands cradling image of Earth drawn on concrete in chalk.

Raising Money For Nature
Thursday, April 22, 1:00 – 1:30 PM ET
David Love is the author of Green Green: Reflections on 51 Years of Raising Money for Nature. In this webinar, David will share some of the lessons he’s learned about fundraising for nature.



Tuesday, April 27, 7:00 PM ET
Tune in to see some of the hottest poetic talent take the virtual mic by storm at this CSI Alumni’s second annual poetry slam. 2020 winner Cassandra Myers will be performing a feature set!


Environment and Cleantech Business and Policy Forum

Environment and Cleantech Business + Policy Forum
Roundtables: May 4-7 | Forum: May 11-13
Hear from government representatives during ‘off-the-record’ policy roundtables, watch presentations from emerging environment and cleantech entrepreneurs, and network with industry professionals.


Job Board

Want to post your opportunities to our job board? Find out what membership could look like for you!

Marketing Manager | TechSoup Canada
Deadline: April 19
We’re looking for someone to strengthen the TechSoup Canada brand and drive new member acquisition, member retention and conversion (ordering from our eCommerce platforms).

Executive Coordinator, Leadership Programs Coordinator, and Senior Program Coordinator | Pride at Work Canada
Deadline: April 23 (Exec Coordinator) and April 30 (Programs)
This CSI Member is expanding their team! Applications from all locations across Canada will be considered.

Social Media Manager | We Animals Media
Deadline: April 25
This CSI Member is looking for someone to join their team and advance the conversation on animal photojournalism through their social media presence.

Bilingual Communications and Engagement Specialist | CSI Institute
Deadline: April 30
CSI’s affiliated charity is looking for an experienced bilingual (English-French) communicator to support Social Innovation Canada.

Bilingual Communications Lead, Strategy and Operations Lead  | Common Approach to Impact Measurement
Deadline: Rolling
This CSI Alumni is a technology consulting firm exclusively for grantmaking organizations. They’re looking to fill a number of positions!


Go For It

CSI Member Action Against Hunger has put out a Request For Proposals for translation and interpretation services in English, French, Spanish, and/or Arabic. Deadline: April 30, 5:00 PM ET

CSI Member Business In The Streets is looking for mentors for young, aspiring entrepreneurs from underserved communities. If you’re a business professional or entrepreneur with at least three years of experience, you’d be a perfect fit! Mentor Meet and Greet is April 22, and orientation is April 24.

OpenIDEO’s Food Systems Game Changers Lab is seeking individuals, teams, and organizations who have ideas, innovations, or initiatives that could contribute to a better food future for everyone, everywhere. Deadline: May 14

As Seen at CSI


Saved By The Future filming an episode at CSI Annex.

The Saved By The Future crew dropped by CSI Annex last week to film an episode about Dr. Julielynn Wong’s social enterprise, 3D4MD. It’s airing on CNN on Saturday April 24!

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