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CSI Network News: 17 innovations to celebrate 17 years



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


17 Innovators and Innovations to Celebrate 17 Years

In June of 2004, CSI opened its doors with fourteen founding members in tow to solve the “photocopier problem,” the tendency for organizations to work in silos instead of sharing resources and solutions. Enter 5,000 sq. ft. at 215 Spadina Avenue – one of the very first coworking spaces in the world!

If you know us, you know our story. But, do you know our members? Since our start, over 6000 innovators have passed through the halls (and multiple buildings) of CSI, accessing programming, building community, accelerating their ventures, and creating solutions for systems-level change. Their stories tell the larger story of the life cycle of CSI.

A wheelchair ramp becomes a showpiece and a statement at Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation

When a project blends in so well, there is a danger. In 50 or 75 years, who will be around to tell of the thought that went into it? Who will remember the anecdotal stories that fill in the blanks? Who will fight to preserve it?

At Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation – part incubator, part lab, part co-working space, part tenanted office building, and all in for reshaping the world to become a better place – one such project exists. Here, at 192 Spadina Ave., how people enter and first experience the six-storey, 1920 brick-and-beam beauty has been radically changed, but a first-time visitor might not blink an eye.“There’s something about our role as stewards of history,” says CSI chief executive officer Tonya Surman. “I think about this building, how easy it would be to sell it and have a developer rip ’er down and put up a 12-storey condo.” But that, she continues, wouldn’t honour its rich history as part of Toronto’s once-booming garment district or “show the world that here was a different way, a slower way.”

Stories from
the Network


Reclaiming the Narrative: A Spotlight on Queer of Colour

CSI Member Eileen Liu founded Queer of Colour, a storytelling platform, as a way of reclaiming how queer people of colour are represented in society and by extension, how they see themselves.

Through long-form interviews and photographs, her work gives space for the kind of sincerity and candour people often yearn for online. Eileen invites friends and strangers across different communities to tell the stories of their lives. She often meets participants in parks across the city where, sitting across from her for a few hours, people unfold themselves. They share their passions, struggles, careers, upbringings. “I always tell them that if there is a question they don’t want to talk about then we don’t talk about it. They have full control over what they want to say. But up until now, no one has refused to answer a question,” Eileen explains, smiling.

Place-Based Impact Investing: Catalyzing women-led enterprises in Ontario’s COVID recovery

Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network (WOSEN) partner Social Venture Connexion just published a new case study on impact investing in Ontario and across Canada to learn how place-based impact investing can help reverse troubling women’s employment trends and build an equitable and purpose-led recovery.

As we rebuild local economies in a post-COVID era, there is a renewed need to support women-led enterprises. CSI is proud to be a part of WOSEN, supporting women entrepreneurs in Southern Ontario!


CSI Connects

How To: Start a Podcast with In Good Hands
Wednesday, June 2, 12:30 – 1:15 PM ET [for CSI Members]
Peter Levin is the creator of “In Good Hands”, a podcast highlighting solutions to climate change. In this session, we’ll learn the basics of starting a mission-driven podcast, and hear about Peter’s journey interviewing stakeholders in the world of climate solutions.


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


Virtual ProPride: Beyond Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Virtual ProPride 2021
June 9, June 23, July 14, August 11
Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts across Canadian employers have made more inclusive workplaces for employees regardless of gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Yet we continue to see inequity for LGBTQ2+ employees and jobseekers. CSI Member Pride at Work’s free series will address how we move beyond DEI to Belonging, Dignity, and Justice.

Canada’s New Commissioner Of The Environment And Sustainable Development Jerry DeMarco

Canada’s New Commissioner Of The Environment And Sustainable Development Jerry DeMarco
Thursday, June 3, 1:00 – 2:00 PM ET
Hear about recent Commissioner’s reports on the federal government’s environmental performance and Jerry’s plans for the future, including reports and key areas of interest.


Airtable for Nonprofits

Airtable for Nonprofits
Wednesday, June 16, 9:00 AM ET
Whether you need to track donations, plan events, keep track of grants, manage volunteers or keep on top of members, Airtable is a great solution that can meet your needs.


Transforming Funding Models Summit

Transforming Funding Models Summit
June 22-23, 1:00 – 4:00 PM
Alongside hundreds of professionals and funders from across the country, dive into game-changing funding and business model transformations that are gaining traction for the new era of impact coming out of COVID.


Nonprofit Driven

Nonprofit Driven 2021
October 27-28
Early bird tickets are on sale for CSI alumni Ontario Nonprofit Network’s flagship conference. This year’s Nonprofit Driven is an important opportunity to discuss how to rebuild with a key focus on inclusive and sustainable recovery.



Job Board

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

Chief Program Officer | CSI (that’s us!)
Deadline: May 31 (tomorrow)
If you know how the startup world works and are ready to lead the charge to give it a major upgrade, this role is for you. Join our team and help shape the Next Economy!

Communications and Social Media Assistant x2, Data Entry Assistant, Research Assistant | Mommy Monitor
Deadline: June 1, 5:00 PM ET
Longtime CSI Member Mommy Monitor is looking to fill four roles on their team. These are funded by the Canada Summer Jobs Grant, so you must be between 15-30 years old to be eligible.

Operations Manager | CivicAction GTHA
Deadline: June 4
CivicAction is looking for a detail-oriented critical thinker to manage their operations. The role calls for a focus on coordination of corporate budget and controllership, risk management, legal and internal audit.

Director of Research | Egale Canada
Deadline: June 4
Lead Egale’s Research Department as they compile, produce, and communicate the best-available evidence, information and tools for promoting and fostering the human rights and equitable inclusion of 2SLGBTQI people throughout all aspects of society.

Campaigner | LeadNow
Deadline: June 13
LeadNow is seeking a Campaigner to lead or support specific campaigns, enabling their members to influence policy and the broader direction of society as a whole.


It’s Up to Us

An extra fare to ride the subway? Tell the TTC to keep one flat fare in Toronto!

Ending age-based discounts? Tell the TTC to expand discounts for all!

The TTC is running another transit survey to get feedback on specific fare proposals, including fare capping, fare-by-mode, and fare-by-distance. CSI Member TTCriders has put together a guide to help you advocate for flat fares and age-based discounts.

Go For It

How has COVID-19 impacted your nonprofit? CSI Alumni Ontario Nonprofit Network has partnered with l’Assemblée de la Francophonie de l’Ontario to create this survey. Their goal is to collect vital data for a rebuilding strategy that meets the needs and aspirations of the diverse communities across Ontario. Deadline: June 4

The League of Innovators’ Labs virtual accelerator for youth-led startups includes workshops, AMAs, resources, coaching, mentorship, and a world-class community of experts and peers. Deadline: July 5

As Seen At CSI

A slide from a recent CSI Art and Art History Club convening, showcasing REST by Elisa Umuhoza.
CSI’s Art and Art History Club reflects on Elisa Umuhoza’s REST.

Elisa’s artist statement reads: “This painting is a reminder to rest in the midst of chaos, confusion, and all of life’s weights and worries. Rest is a necessary act of resistance in the ever-moving hamster wheel of capitalism which has long been rooted in the oppression of the Black body.”

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