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Agents of Change 2017-2018: Climate Solutions


Social entrepreneurs are turning the climate crisis into an opportunity to build the more resilient, clean, and low-carbon economy of the future.

Over two years, the Centre for Social Innovation is supporting 38 enterprises working on climate change solutions. Please note that applications are now closed, but you can still join Climate Ventures, our incubator for climate entrepreneurs, innovators, and advocates.

After a rigorous selection process, 20 enterprises joined our first cohort for Agents of Change: Climate Solutions. Over 12 months their revenues grew by 120% to $1.4M, they created 14 new full-time equivalent jobs, increased volunteers by 55% to 160, and attained greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions of 640 TC02e while being on track to achieve thousands more. Read this blog post for more updates.

Gregory Bonser (LinkedIn) & Albert Ler (LinkedIn)

Alert Energy helps building owners save energy and water.

Headshot of Mary-Kate Gilbertson
Mary-Kate Gilbertson (LinkedIn) & Larry Sault

Anwaatin supports reconciliation working alongside Indigenous Stewardship Warriors. We provide technical support to Indigenous communities.

Headshot of Colin Campbell
Colin Campbell (LinkedIn)

Better Current is a renewable technology company launching the world’s first smart solar charger for home use to efficiently charge devices from the sun every day.

Headshot of Kathy Porter
Kathy Porter (LinkedIn) & Jacqui Gingras

Imagine Getting Paid to Cycle! CO2Velo sells locally based carbon offset credits to emitters. We use the funds from carbon offset sales to provide financial incentives for people to cycle.

Headshot of Leor Rotchild


Leor Rotchild (LinkedIn)

DIG (aka Do It Green) is a registered B Corp delivering environmental programming for large special events including zero-waste management, clean power and potable water solutions.

Photo of Emmay Mah and Vince Schutt
Emmay Mah (LinkedIn) & Vince Schutt (LinkedIn)

Enviromentum mitigates climate change impacts by helping people to adopt environmentally responsible behaviours. Through applied behavioural change science, we empower people and organisations to lead a low carbon cultural transition.

Headshot of Anahita Belanger
Anahita Belanger (LinkedIn)

Farm Fund invests in modern restorative agriculture to improve the lives of farmers, feed the world and reverse climate change.

Photo of Kelly Drennan and Sarah Peel
Kelly Drennan (LinkedIn) & Sarah Peel LinkedIn)

FTA advances fashion sustainability through education, awareness and collaboration. Our Fashion Impacts Challenge introduces youth to the sharing economy with school-wide swaps, and also helps them prevent GHG-producing textile waste.

Headshot of Michael Smith
Michael Smith (LinkedIn) & Mark Juhasz

Future of Protein provides leaders with business intelligence on sustainable livestock production. We are examining sustainable animal feeds and developing a new tool to help leaders reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Photo of Luna Yu and Kaitlyn Chow
Luna Yu (LinkedIn) & Kaitlyn Chow (LinkedIn)

Genecis aims to rid the world of food waste and up-cycle it into products of value.

Photo of Paul Mero and Natasa Zupancic
Paul Mero (LinkedIn) & Natasa Zupancic (LinkedIn)

Junction Geo is a pilot project showcasing a new approach to bringing geoexchange heating and cooling to homes in older urban areas.

Photo of Akhil Sivanandan and Navodit Babel
Akhil Sivanandan (LinkedIn) & Navodit Babel (LinkedIn)

Green Story is a marketing and analytics platform that helps green companies connect with customers by showcasing their positive environmental and social impact.

Photo of Jessica Machado and Sarah Brigel
Jessica Machado & Sarah Brigel (LinkedIn)

Microbe Hub aims to reduce a community’s carbon footprint by using composting as a method of diverting organic waste and as a platform for science literacy programming.

Headshot of Carolyn Young
Carolyn Young (LinkedIn) & Laura Northey (LinkedIn)

The Organic Council of Ontario is the voice for organics in Ontario. We represent organic farmers and businesses and help them to grow Ontario organics from field to plate.

Headshot of Peggy Sue Deaven
Peggy Sue Deaven (LinkedIn) & Emily Neill (LinkedIn)

Peggy Sue Collection Inc. is a clothing company founded upon the beliefs of revitalizing the North American fiberscape with a transparent and traceable Supply Chain of Farmers, Mills and Makers.

Photo of Jessica Correa
Jessica Correa (LinkedIn)

Random Acts of Green™ is a social enterprise that offers social media advertising services. We advertise for our clients utilizing our engaging and empowering brand to showcase environmental initiatives.

Photo of Brandon Hebor and Steven Bourne
Brandon Hebor (LinkedIn) & Steven Bourne (LinkedIn)

Ripple is a social enterprise working to combat food insecurity throughout Canada. Focusing on vertical farming techniques, Ripple operates out of Canada’s first Urban Farming Unit at the Evergreen Brickworks.

Photo of Nima Tahami and Mohsen Mohsenpour
Nima Tahami (LinkedIn) & Mohsen Mohsenpour

ShiftRide is a peer-to-peer car sharing platform, allowing people to rent cars from car owners nearby.

Photo of Carter Li and Laura Bryson
Carter Li (LinkedIn) & Laura Bryson (LinkedIn)

SWTCH is an online marketplace for residential electric vehicle (EV) charging. By enabling residential EV charging, SWTCH aims to improve EV charging accessibility and promote the mainstream adoption of EVs.

Headshot of Daniel Adirim
Daniel Adirim (LinkedIn)

Groundswell Grid Energy is a geoexchange utility dedicated to making it easy for building owners to switch to a less expensive, safer and lower carbon space heating and cooling technology.

If you have any questions about the Agents of Change or other CSI acceleration programs and services, please contact Barnabe Geis, Director of Programs, at barnabe[at]

Part of the CSI Accelerates Initiative

At CSI, we support entrepreneurs with solutions that drive change through acceleration and incubation. Learn more about our approach here.

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CleanTech Fellowship

The 2017 Global Cleantech Innovation Index ranked Canada’s cleantech sector fourth in the world in this market expected to be worth $2.5 trillion by 2022.

To help build on this success, CSI launched a one-year fellowship for entrepreneurs leading discovery to efficiency-stage cleantech startups reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario.

Our Fellows were supported with:

One-to-one coaching with Entrepreneur in Residence, consultations with expert advisors, and workshops. 

Connections to our advisory committee, our portfolio of climate ventures, our 2,500 members, and acceleration partners.

Free membership at Climate Ventures, and workspace for up to two people for 12 months.

Access to microloans, pitching at Demo Night, and introductions to funders, investors, and partners.

Over 12 months the Cleantech Fellows achieved…
  • $17.4M raised & earned during program, an increase of 481%
  • 95 jobs supported, an increase of 86%
  • 641 tCO2e in direct emissions reductions through pilots

Part of the CSI Accelerates Initiative

At CSI, we support entrepreneurs with solutions that drive change through acceleration and incubation. Learn more about our approach here.

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Agents of Change: Community Health

Woman holding up vegetables

Tackle health challenges head-on

With an aging population, rising healthcare costs and increasing levels of chronic disease, the world needs new innovations that improve health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. Here at the Centre for Social Innovation, we know that great challenges also present opportunities to make the world a better place. We set out to find innovators tackling health challenges head on for Agents of Change: Community Health.

In 2016, CSI and Green Shield Canada Foundation created the Agents of Change: Community Health program to give dreamers, doers and innovators in Toronto a helping hand in developing solutions to health problems affecting various communities.

Each agent received a $10,000-grant, a one-year membership at the Centre for Social Innovation, acceleration supports from leading advisors and educators in organizational and business development, and took part in special programming such as Peer Circles and events to support their work. They achieved a 195% increase in revenues, and a 97% increase in the number of people impacted.

What is Community Health?

Imagine riding home from work along a freshly painted bike lane where Cycle TO is offering a cycling workshop. You watch a local running club training in the park as a group of seniors pass by on a walking tour led by Building Roads Together. You stop at a farmers market to purchase some local produce from Fresh City Farms. You pick up a few extra things for your neighbour, recently diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. You’re worried but feel relieved knowing that her friends are taking turns bringing her meals using the TYZE Personal Networks online platform. You make one last stop at the local Health Centre to pick up some brochures on how to be a caregiver.

What Participants Got

Agents gained access to workspace, meeting space and CSI’s dynamic, multidisciplinary community of more than 1,000 organizations and 2,500 individuals. Agents of Change winners also benefited from CSI programs.

Part of the CSI Accelerates Initiative

At CSI, we support entrepreneurs with solutions that drive change through acceleration and incubation. Learn more about our approach here.

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Agents of Change: City Builders

People networking at the Agents of Change City Builders Grad Event

Engaged and active citizens make great cities

These are types of people who insist on rolling up their sleeves to make their city a better place. We teamed up with 15 outstanding partners to create 2015 Agents of Change: City Builders program, giving these dreamers, doers and innovators a helping hand.

Over 12 months, the selected startups in the Toronto cohort achieved a 461% increase in revenues, and 214% increase in paid staff.

Headshot of Azeeza for Women Agent of Change

Azeeza for Women is a social enterprise designed to address the issue of violence against women through health and fitness training.

Photo of founders of Building Roots

Building Roots is an emergent initiative of Food Forward, a grassroots non-profit organization, where Torontonians meet to create a better City through food.

Headshot of Marc Soberano, Founder of Building Up

Building Up is a non-profit social enterprise that will install energy and water efficient retrofits in low income housing, while training and employing the marginalized residents of these buildings to carry out the work.

Headshot of Farah N. Mawani, Founder of Farahway Global

Building Roads Together/Farahway Global reduces mental health disparities and promotes inclusion and empowerment by building capacity for people to lead peer walking groups.

Headshot of Darryl Brown, Founder of The Drop Distribution

The Drop Distribution is a cargo cycle fleet operating year-round bringing the best of the city to consumer’s door stoops.

Photo of Lucas Simon Medina (Founder and Executive Director) and Chad A. Craig (Administrative Director)

Five/Fourteen is a social service agency providing services and support to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer and otherwise gender-non-conforming youth and young adults in and from foster care in Ontario.

Headshot of Jason Logan

Toronto Needs a Creative Director is a project to establish an office of Creative Direction within Toronto’s City Hall.

Photo of the Shape My City team

Shape My City brings the power of networks to people, ideas, projects, and organizations, helping to build a better Toronto.

Headshot of Luke Anderson, Founder of StopGap Foundation

StopGap Foundation is helping communities discover the benefit of barrier free spaces and providing support to create them through their Community Ramp Project outside storefronts across Toronto.

Photo of the Storefront Theatre team

The Storefront Theatre is a performance space in the Bloorcourt area in Toronto, born out of a vacant storefront and converted into a thriving theatre venue.

Photo of Techsdale team

Techsdale is helping Rexdale youth learn web, app and game design and development, in order to maximize their capacity for creative self-expression, their employability and their sense of agency.


Our Agents are making lasting impacts on their communities. See for yourself.

StopGap Foundation

Building Up

Part of the CSI Accelerates Initiative

At CSI, we support entrepreneurs with solutions that drive change through acceleration and incubation. Learn more about our approach here.

Agents of Change: Youth

Tree branches and roots growing along the brick wall outside CSI Annex. Photo credit: Sammy Tangir.

We’re in the business of helping people who are making the world a better place

The 2011, 2012 and 2013 Agents of Change: Youth programs provided space and support to young people aged 19-30 with a promising social venture to help them turn their ideas into real impact, and prepare them for early stage investment.

Over three years, supported over 60 young entrepreneurs and their ventures.

Andre Vashist is an advocate of neighbourhood renewal projects and believes in community-based planning as a framework for effective community development. Andre has been a senior executive at University of Toronto at Scarborough’ s Student Union, represented MADD Canada as a national youth spokesperson, and managed a federally funded program for newcomer youth in Toronto for the YMCA of Greater Toronto. Inspired by the work of United Way’s Action for Neighbourhood Change initiative, Andre created Butterfly Communities to serve neighbourhoods not identified as a priority by the city and that had the desire to improve their quality of life.
Antonius Clarke is a resident of Jane and Finch. Growing up in this community, he was faced with many challenges and oppression, issues within the education system, over policing and poverty. He used his experiences to affect change among other youth and families. He became known as the Inner city ambassador, as he spoke up about the importance of giving youth a platform to share their stories, and recognizing the value and importance in respecting the lived experience of individuals. Antonius believes that power lives within and is a champion for developing local leaders and supporting resident development and involvement in all processes.
Balu Kanagalingam has shown an enduring commitment to bringing out the talents and spirit of kids from underserved communities. He has taken an active leadership role on the Youth Advisory Board of Arts for Children and \was largely responsible for the success of the Big Bam Boom Youth Arts Festival at Harbourfront. While pursuing his studies at Ryerson, Balu has been working as an outreach artist with Arts for Children and Youth and, at the same time, taking an active role in putting together this year’ s Big Bam Boom.
Chiara Camponeschi’s approach to social innovation and social change blends elements of empowered participatory governance with the latest collaborative tools and theories. Her work is pushing for a more nuanced understanding of (urban) sustainability, and promotes a vision of interconnected local communities that are interactive, livable and resilient. Chiara is also really passionate about co-design (of services, policies, projects), and works to raise awareness on the potential of what she calls  place-based creative problem-solving” (PBCPS) Her latest project, The Enabling City, is a Creative Commons publication that showcases the best in PBCPS initiatives worldwide and has been listed in Shareable Magazine’s “World’s Top 10 Gov 2.0 Initiatives”.
Chris Wong noticed a gap in Toronto’s landscaping businesses, specifically that food crops were excluded from gardening services. Out of this need, he started Young Urban Farmers, a service that sets-up vegetable gardens. After a year of positive feedback, he took urban food production one step further. The goal for Young Urban Farmers CSA, a registered non-profit, is to grow food secure communities through a backyard CSA program, informative weekly newsletters, and educational workshops. He is also a member of the Toronto Food Policy Council and the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council, both of which work to shape policy around food issues in Toronto.
D’Andre Wilson has been a part of the National Society of Black Engineers for 4 years and would like to expand her work to teach leadership and STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) and also Entrepreneurial concepts to black youth. D’andre hopes to hold workshops, which she is currently developing a curriculum for with the help of the University of Toronto Engineering Outreach Office, and to hold competitions that will get youth engaged.
Darren Brown is a passionate and energetic individual. For the better part of the past decade he has dedicated himself to bettering the lives of the youth with whom he works . Through his experience organizing many outreach programs in and around the Greater Toronto Area, Darren has genuinely touched the lives of many young people.
David Berkal — I consider myself an activist, an entrepreneur, a storyteller, and an educator. I’m currently the Executive Director of Operation Groundswell, a nonprofit volunteer travel company. Now in its 5th year, OG will run 14 programs, sending 150 young adults all over the globe and raising over $150,000 towards community projects and microcredit financing, all while being a 100% financially self-sufficient social enterprise. I am also the founder of Canadian Roots, which runs exchanges and field schools for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth across the country. I recently completed my undergraduate at UofT specializing in Peace and Conflict Studies and was selected for the Next 36 Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute.
Francis Atta — I go to George Brown College, entering my third year in the Child and Youth Worker program. Growing up in the Jane and Finch community has been a blessing to me. From all the wrong choices that I have made in my life, I have learned how to become stronger and teach others how to do the same. I started an organization called K.E.Y.S which stands for Knowledge & Effort Yields Success. It is a Motivational Speaking Company and also provides workshops that inspires and encourages people of all ages to never give up no matter what the outcome.
Grace Poon started grayspoon 3 years ago. She spends her days helping non-profits, start-ups and social businesses develop and strengthen their business brand identity. Her clients range from start-up business owners to large non-profit corporations to small community based operations in developing nations. Last year, Grace ran away with her passion, chopped off 14″ of hair and launched The Hair Dare, a movement where girls (and guys) cut their hair to raise funds, awareness and hair for children who suffer from conditions like cancer treatments, burns and alopecia.
Jajube Mandiela — I am an emerging actor in stage, screen, and voice, as well as a young student pursuing a degree in Philosophy and Cinema Studies. I love my performance work but felt I was missing a tangible, positive impact on making the world a better place to live in, hence why I became the lead member of the reConnexion Artists Collective. We are a project-run group who connect Toronto’s youth with the professional live performance community. We are theatre practitioners (actors, arts educators, etc.) with core, project, and associate members. Our most successful, Trips2Shows project, takes youth accompanied by artist-facilitators to live performance events. While our newest project, Uth Connexions, endeavours to create a youth network in Western Toronto neighbourhoods so youth can have the power to program art training and creating activities in their own communities rather than through third parties. Simultaneously, we are launching the reConnexion Artists growth spurt: a project aimed at creating a stronger connection between arts organizations and youth social service providers. Our goal: when youth connect to one they have access to all.
Jayar La Fontaine — After completing graduate level work in philosophy at McMaster University, I relocated to Toronto and began working in community-based neuro-rehab settings. I now work with publically funded acquired brain injury (ABI) organizations to improve services, build partnerships with other areas of healthcare and social services, and empower ABI survivors and their caregivers. I am working with Jane McGonigal’s start-up Social Chocolate to bring clinical trials and beta testing of her rehab-based alternate reality game “SuperBetter” to brain injury clinics in Ontario. In September, I’ll be returning to school part-time in OCADU’s new Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation.
Jayme Turney — I am a 25 year old York Political Science/Political Economy Masters student and Toronto Public Space Committee campaigner (since 2008). The TPSC was founded by Dave Meslin about 10 years ago and is currently under transition and revitalization, which I am leading and managing. The new organization, Toronto Public Space Initiative, will continue TPSC advocacy work to promote and protect public spaces and outdoor visual environments from commercialization, as well as to promote a public ‘right to the city’ in these areas and in the decision making processes around them; in other words, to further democratize the urban.
Jonathan Moneta — Jonathan Moneta is developing energy managment systems that address the rising cost of energy and the changing ways we pay for it. He is experienced in the wireless Smart Energy space and was formerly the Director of Business Development for MMB Research. Jonathan was also Chair of the Young Social Entrepreneurs of Canada’s (YSEC) re:Vision 2010 conference.
Joshua Liu — I am a third year medical student at the University of Toronto. When I was 15, I created SMARTS – Youth Science Canada’s national youth science network. This year we have redeveloped SMARTS as the premier online social network for youth interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Presently, I am the co-lead of a project at UHN’s Centre for Innovation in Complex Care to map out the current state of avoidable hospitalization for complex patients in Ontario. I am also working with Toronto Western Hospital’s family health team to develop their Homebound Seniors Program.
Lauren Spring — I am a stage and screen actress and international improvisor. I obtained my BFA (in Theatre and Development) from Concordia University in 2005 and completed graduate studies in physical theatre and clown Paris, France at L’ecole de Theatre Jacques LeCoq and with Philippe Gaulier. I am currently completing my Masters in International Development at York University. I have been teaching theatre and improvisation-based workshops for children, teenagers and adults for more than a decade throughout North America and abroad and along with my partner, Thomas Gallezot, recently started up a company- the Extant Jesters – which specializes in skills training and event animation. We work with a wide variety of groups ranging from grade 2 students at Regent Park public school to top executives in bank towers- and everything in between. My current project is on the relationship between humour and resilience in the lives of those who have experienced torture or trauma and as part of it I have been facilitating improv workshops with refugees at the Canadian Centre for Victimes of Torture, exploring the ways in which the improv principle of “Yes and” (acceptance and advancement) can be applied to their everyday lives.
Liam O’Doherty — I am an organizer, activist and improviser who likes to swim, garden and ride bikes. I stay up late and get things done. My currently projects include: a global youth engagement mapping project with TakingITGlobal, Greenshades an environmental entertainment group and a collaborative advice platform for consumer information.
Nadia Hamilton — As a sibling to a young adult with autism, I have been cognizant my entire life of the challenges faced by those impacted by this and other disorders. I have spent a lifetime advocating for my brother and the autistic community which is, I feel, an extended network of brothers and sisters. This year, I’m focusing my efforts in starting a for-profit organization that caters to adults with autism. Nadia was the winner of CSI’s Project Wildfire and earned $25,000 for her project to improve the lives of adults with autism.
Nathan Duncan is the founder and CTO of eevig the give back initiative. He has contributed many years into social innovation and began his journey at the age of 14 when he opened his own media design firm onmedia just to build a social project he was passionate about IAP Sports. Nathan has now turned his eyes to the future… through a rough economy and with a growth in the social consumer market he has now targeted a new project, which is eevig the give back initiative. Eevig acquires quality corporate redundant assets such as chairs, desks, stationary supplies and IT equipment from some of the world’s most recognizable brands and managea the connection from corporations to social initiatives across the globe.
Paige Lawson — I am the founder and director of The DREAM Project, a locally based organization from London Ontario that provides education alternatives, resources, support and awareness for mental health and mental illness. Founded in 2008, DREAM has become a recognized support system within the Thames Valley and Catholic District School Boards, serving over 30 highschools and youth groups. I was recognized as a 2010 Top 20 Under Twenty Award Recipient for my work, and have recently expanded my work to Hamilton where I am currently studying Television Broadcasting and Communications Media.
Samantha Banks holds a Diploma in Fundraising and Volunteer Management from Humber College and has a BFA in Contemporary Dance from Concordia University. Sam was elected Vice President Special Events for the Fine Arts Student Alliance, where she organized orientation for 5,000 students and acted as a Fine Arts Councilor for the Concordia Student Union. She served as president for a campus, city-wide and international youth movement, and was responsible for implementing leadership development and social justice programming. Sam has attended conferences throughout the world that focused on interfaith and peace in the Middle East. She was selected for fellowships with the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee and Canadian Israel Experience- Birthright. Sam was Social Chair for Students Take Action Now for Darfur and fundraised for Doctors Without Borders.

Part of the CSI Accelerates Initiative

At CSI, we support entrepreneurs with solutions that drive change through acceleration and incubation. Learn more about our approach here.

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