About the Fund

The Community Innovation Fund was designed to help Quebec’s English-speaking communities put social innovation in action to address the needs of vulnerable English-speaking Quebecers. Financed by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program – Children and Families Component, and managed by the Quebec Community Groups Network, between 2016 and 2019 the CIF supported 10 innovative projects that truly transformed the lives of individual community members, Targeting the particular priorities of our community’s youth, seniors and caregivers, as well as newcomers, the Fund made it possible for community groups to address social issues more effectively. Almost 2,000 vulnerable seniors, youth, and newcomers received new services to help them find jobs, fight isolation, or learn new skills. By this measure alone, the Fund generated a tremendous return. Furthermore, a core goal of the Community Innovation Fund – that all these projects be sustained into the future – was realized. 

Thanks to the renewal of the Community Innovation Fund in 2019, Quebec’s English-speaking youth and seniors will benefit from another $1.1 million to learn new skills, find jobs, and fight isolationThe CIF is supporting 10 community organizations that are piloting socially innovative initiatives to directly address the unique challenges facing marginalized English-speaking seniors and youth and to enhance inclusive educational and employment opportunities for our younger generation – thus strengthening the vitality of our minority English-speaking communities.   

2020-2023: Social Initiatives Address Needs of Vulnerable English-speaking Youth and Seniors

Camp Weredale: Camp Weredale Work and Life Skills Program

Making use of Camp Weredale’s facilities during the off-season, this project will provide vulnerable youth and Care Jeunesse members, aged 18 to 25, a safe and positive experience to help them acquire employability and life skills as they transition to independent living. During intensive two-week sessions, participants will benefit from employability soft-skills training along with workshops on topics including money management, self-care, and developing support systems. Youth will gain valuable job training in maintenance, technical services, and kitchen help, as well as the possibility of summer employment at the camp.

Committee for Anglophone Social Action (CASA): Developing the English-speaking Gaspé Brand

This project focuses on identifying and developing opportunities to increase the community recognition and socio-economic capacity of the Gaspé’s most marginalized individuals and support their contributions in order to enhance and promote the cultural capital of the region’s English-speaking minority through social enterprise. Project activities to achieve this objective include: conducting a feasibility study, outreach to and partnership building with Gesgapegiag, Listiguj, and Gespeg First Nations, a series of community consultations, designing and hosting workshops in each MRC for various target groups, conducting market research, and the creation of a business plan for a social enterprise.

Cote des Neiges Black Community Association (CDNBCA): A French Start with New-La

In collaboration with a Montreal tech company, CDNBCA plans to develop and test a beta version of a unique French literacy app designed to assist parents from the English-speaking Black community, as well as other FOL racialized communities, in teaching their preschool-aged children French literacy skills, better preparing them to enter the French school system. Activities include a needs assessment and focus groups, before-and-after testing of both non-tech and beta versions of the app, market research, and the development of a business plan.

DESTA Black Youth Network: DestaNation Tech

A tech-focused entrepreneurship and employability program designed to help participants overcome employment barriers faced by English-speaking Black youth, DestaNation Tech is TechBuro 2.0: offering skills workshops in coding, front-end web development, data analysis, graphic design, and digital marketing. Quarterly networking meetups for Black tech professionals and partnership development with HR specialists working in the tech space will help participants access work opportunities, and an in-house DestaNation consulting agency will be launched to allow successful participants the ability to freelance and contribute to the sustainability of the project.

Gay and Grey: Outreach Project for English-speaking LGBTQ Seniors

Launched in 2018, Gay and Grey was developed by Prevention CDN/NDG and Services Coup de Balai/Clean Sweepers to address the diverse needs of English-speaking LGBTQ seniors. This project aims to promote the organization to the LGBTQ senior community in Montreal though various social and informational activities, including intergenerational LGBTQ-focused activities and partnership development to create support and promote services for LGBTQ caregivers. Outreach initiatives will include the development of a marketing and communications plan for the organization to increase its visibility and membership participation within the English-speaking LGBTQ senior community.

Museum of Jewish Montreal: Professional Opportunities for Vulnerable English-speaking Youth through Fellowships and Microgrants

This project will establish new professional and creative opportunities for vulnerable youth (both within the Jewish community and from other groups of English-speakers in Quebec) to connect with local culture, heritage, and community life. New positions will be offered to minority-identifying English-speaking youth within the Museum’s research, food, and oral history fellowship programs. The expansion of an existing microgrants program for creative cultural exploration and the creation of a new food microgrants program will help to increase the capacity and diversity of the Museum, while offering vulnerable youth paid experiential learning opportunities.

Press Start: Press Start Employment Initiative

A youth-led cooperative working in partnership with Bâtiment 7, a nonprofit organization housing 17 trade collectives (auto mechanics, landscaping, screen printing, bike repair, etc.), Press Start will offer a community-based learning experience to at-risk marginalized youth. Participants will be able to access paid training mentorship opportunities, acquire the skills necessary to obtain employment, and engage in workshops providing training in soft skills and community development. Various projects made available through Bâtiment 7 will provide hands-on experience for youth to explore a variety of trades with the support of skilled and supportive mentors.

Project 10 (P10): QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, Persons of Color) Youth Innovation and Collaboration Project

As Montreal’s only 2LGBTQ+ youth group offering support to youth in English, P10 has a 25-year history of providing impactful community programming, resources, and services. With the reciprocal objectives of increasing the organization’s internal diversity and its capacity to serve a more diverse clientele, this project seeks to expand and re-structure Full Circle, P10’s QTBIPOC-led program, and support a Trans Indigenous research project in partnership with Indigenous organizations and the University of Montreal. The findings of both projects will inform the redesign of P10’s programming and provide valuable data and partnerships to assist P10 with organizational capacity development.

Suspicious Fish: Fostering the Future of Fish

A Verdun-based literacy and arts organization currently providing English-language creative writing workshops to primarily low-income children, Suspicious Fish seeks to expand its participant base and extend its target demographics with the launch of new programming for high school-aged youth, seniors, and young adult learners in the Southwest and Kahnawake. Recognizing the challenges and vulnerability faced by many Southwest and Kahnawake residents, Suspicious Fish aims to empower participants with culturally-relevant creative and editorial writing workshops that promote literacy skills improvement, and decrease social isolation with cross-cultural (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) writing projects, which will be published in an anthology. CIF funding will also be used to assist with capacity building.

The Depot: Youth Pathway Positions Project

With the goal of breaking down barriers to success for marginalized youth, in particular English-speaking youth for whom there is a great lack of available opportunities, the Youth Pathway project will develop and establish best practices for six permanent part-time youth positions at The Depot. Offering participants a chance to learn and practice transferable job skills in a supported environment, these positions will provide much-needed work experience and access to employment opportunities at the organization, in the community sector, and beyond. The project will also enable The Depot to fulfill its commitment to employing neighborhood residents, ensuring its work reflects the experience, needs, and vision of the community members it serves.

2016-2019 INNOVATION IN ACTION

The Community Innovation Fund financed 10 innovative projects that truly transformed the lives of individual English-speaking Quebecers. Watch our documentary to find out how.

Coasters Association

Officials in isolated regions often lament their brain drain – young people who leave to study in cities and never come back. That’s particularly true of English-speaking youths, who have even fewer opportunities to work in their own language than their French-speaking counterparts. So it’s refreshing to hear Heidi Buckle say that the retention rate of English-speaking high- school graduates in Quebec’s distant Lower North Shore region is growing.

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Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders

Helena Burke has to contend with various issues inherent to the Magdalen Islands – mainly one, actually; the lure of the sea. The Executive Director of the Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders (CAMI), said that it’s a challenge asking a teenager whether he wants to stay in school or make $40,000 in a season, fishing. The answer is usually predictable. Add to the mix a small and isolated island, a tiny English- speaking population of 650, fewer opportunities than on the mainland, and the problems can compound.

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The Depot Community Food Centre

The Depot Community Food Centre is, at heart, a food bank. It supplies food baskets and community meals to the needy in the Montreal neighbourhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, runs community kitchen workshops, operates its own collective garden, and manages community gardens for the borough. Now, thanks to a grant from the Community Innovation Fund, the Depot is also in the process of adding “doorways and pathways”, branching out into services that help young people, particularly newcomers to Quebec, find employment.

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DESTA Black Youth Network

The mission of DESTA is to provide job training and growth opportunities for English-speaking black youths aged 18 to 35 in Montreal’s Little Burgundy neighbourhood. Old stereotypes die hard and income disparity, education levels and unemployment levels still disfavour the Black community disproportionately – as does the incarceration rate. Blacks represent three per cent of the Canadian population, but nine per cent of federal prisoners. The Montreal community’s unemployment rate is more than twice that of non-visible minority French-speakers. Only 9.5 per cent of Black Montrealers earn more than $50,000 a year, compared with 25 per cent of non-visible minority English- speaking Montrealers.

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NDG Senior Citizens’ Council

“The whole program has been a godsend, simply exceptional,” said Anne Mackay, Medical Transport Coordinator for the NDG Senior Citizens Council. “We started promoting it as soon as we got the funding and we were deluged immediately. I had no idea how many isolated seniors there were and just how alone they are.” The vocation of the Council, located in the west-end of Montreal, is to fend off isolation prevalent among senior citizens. Among other services, they assist low-income, English-speaking seniors who need to be escorted to medical appointments.

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New Hope Senior Citizen’s Centre

Before receiving a grant from the Community Innovation Fund, New Hope Senior Citizen’s Centre’s computer program – if you could call it that – was hardly cutting edge. “We had one slow, rickety Dell computer that was older than my 30-year-old son,” recalls Gerry Lafferty, Executive Director of New Hope in the Montreal borough of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. “We called it a computer program, with one crappy computer and one or two volunteers.” The seed money has allowed New Hope to pay the salaries of a coordinator and an instructor – and allowed more than 80 seniors to do some catch-up with the world’s fast-moving technology.

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Park-Extension Youth Organization

Before receiving a grant from the Community Innovation Fund, New Hope Senior Citizen’s Centre’s computer program – if you could call it that – was hardly cutting edge. “We had one slow, rickety Dell computer that was older than my 30-year-old son,” recalls Gerry Lafferty, Executive Director of New Hope in the Montreal borough of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. “We called it a computer program, with one crappy computer and one or two volunteers.” The seed money has allowed New Hope to pay the salaries of a coordinator and an instructor – and allowed more than 80 seniors to do some catch-up with the world’s fast-moving technology.

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Phelps Helps

The high-school graduation rate among English-speaking youth in the Stanstead region of the Eastern Townships is barely above 50 per cent, 24 per cent lower than the Quebec average. More than half do not speak French at home, and nearly a quarter cannot even express themselves in the majority language. These grim realities have concrete, real-world consequences, one of them being that 34 per cent of women and 27 per cent of men between the ages of 25 and 64 are unemployed.

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Voice of English-speaking Québec

For most people, expanding their horizons is an aspirational notion. For special needs youths, it’s a necessity if they are to lead a productive life. Funded by the Community Innovation Fund, the Expanding Horizons program in Quebec City was structured for 16- to 29-year-old English-speaking youth who are at-risk or who have special needs. “There was a void for special needs programs for individuals over 21,” explains Brigitte Wellens, Executive Director of Voice of English-speaking Quebec (VEQ). “For them, there is nothing, no support.”

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Youth Employment Services

The proportion of recent immigrants to Quebec who move on to other provinces is extremely high. Stemming that exodus is one of the goals of Youth Employment Services (YES), which got a funding boost to address the issue from the Community Innovation Fund. For the past quarter century, YES has served mostly English-speaking youth looking to match their skills with positions employers want to fill. “Our CIF project was specifically for newcomers to Quebec who are looking to break into the job market here,” said Annalise Iten, Job Search Program Director at YES.

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NEWS

Community Innovation Fund announces shortlisted projects

Montreal, March 21, 2017 – The independent selection committee…

Community Innovation Fund Seeking Proposals to Better Serve Vulnerable Youth, Seniors/Caregivers or Newcomers

Montreal, November 11, 2016 –The Quebec Community Groups…

English-­speaking Quebecers to Benefit from Investment Fund for Official Language Minority Communities

Montreal – April 28, 2016 The Quebec Community Groups Network…

KNOWLEDGE MOBILIZATION

Social Enterprises Activities – Resources

There exist many resources for groups interested in creating a social enterprise.  Social enterprise offers a range of possibilities for combining for-profit and non-profit goals, as well as the possibility of pursuing philanthropic ends without relying on the traditional means of financing charitable ventures: government grants and private donations.

The Social Economy in Quebec

The social economy in Quebec presents lessons and challenges for internationalizing co-operation. This paper, authored by a leading authority on the subject, Marguerite Mendell, provides an overview of the contemporary social economy in Quebec, its many achievements and results in terms of job creation and the promotion of collective enterprise.

Definitions of the Social Economy and its many components

Social financing, cooperatives, social enterprises, collective impact. The field of social economy has many components.  A  glossary on the subject, including associated websites may be a useful introduction to the subject.

Federal Government Social Finance Strategy

The Government of Canada has developed a Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy for the country. As part of the process it consulted the English-speaking community of Quebec. The QCGN submitted a written brief and many community members participated in a live online discussion.

Please note that there are 2 documents:

  1. Consultation from Government
  2. QCGN Brief

Maximizing your Annual Report

Most organizations complete annual reports, so why not create the greatest impact for stakeholders with this important document!  The Community Innovation Fund held a webinar on this subject for the English-speaking community.  It highlighted do’s and don’ts, as well as advice on content, format and design.