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CSI launches 2012 Youth Agents of Change program

The Centre for Social Innovation is thrilled to announce the 2012 Youth Agents of Change winners! Twenty-one extraordinary young social entrepreneurs will join the ranks of CSI’s dynamic membership and will be given the space, tools and connections they need to grow their world-changing projects.

“As an Agent of Change winner I'm most excited about the resources, guidance, mentorship and camaraderie that I'll be receiving through the program,” says Ilana Ben-Ari, one of this year’s winners. “My startup Twenty One Toys has had many successes that are directly linked to the diverse wealth of knowledge in the CSI community, and I look forward to continuing to both grow and contribute to that pool of knowledge.”

Choosing the winners of this year’s Youth Agents of Change competition sure wasn’t easy! We carefully read and reviewed close to 100 applications submitted by young entrepreneurs from Toronto aged 19-29, and selected the 21 most promising social ventures. Meet this year's winners here.

“Young people often struggle for resources, but we think they deserve to be part of our community,” says Eli Malinsky, Director of Programming and Partnerships. 

We learned a lot from last year’s program, and this year we’re leveraging this awesome partnership to provide our Agents of Change with even more learning and growth opportunities. We’re going to hold individual meetings with each participant to specifically understand their needs and tailor our support to them. We will emphasize and arrange mentorship connections and networking events, and this year’s cohort will go through Project Wildfire’s Small Business Success workshop series given by Mike Brcic, the entrepreneur behind the globally recognized social venture Sacred Rides.

Winners came together for the first time on June 12 for the 2012 program launch. Colleen Diamond, the Lead Community Animator, took the Agents of Change on a tour of our Annex building and gave them a run through of what we’re all about. We then learned about each winner’s project, and discussed the challenges they face and how they could assist one another.

Nicholas Wiktorczyk, co-founder of Spently, is an Agent of Change and an entrepreneur on a mission to eliminate paper receipts. 

“All of the AOCs I met on day one were full of passion and desire to accomplish their projects that would ultimately better the world in some way, shape or form,” he says. “It was great to meet so many like-minded and positive individuals, and it will truly be a pleasure and a learning experience to work along side the AOCs and the rest of the CSI community over the next year.”

For Melody Li, who is working on a project called Homeless Connect, “going to orientation was just like the first day of school all over again—a nervous circle, silly games and a handful of fun people. All the AoCs are full of inspiration, passion and excitement, which is something that was most evident in the room. Their commitment to their projects, as well as the support we've informally pledged to each other, will be something that defines the work that will be done this exciting year!”

Lawrence Alvarez, President of the Institute for a Resource-Based Economy, is looking forward to joining the wider CSI community and gain “access to a huge collective mass of people working on the same larger goal, that of a transformed culture. We can function in a space specifically designed to incubate ideas, one where the zeitgeist of social change is captured.”

We are thrilled to welcome this dynamic and diverse group into the CSI community and cannot wait to see their ventures grow. Stay tuned for updates!


Congratulations and thank you

Congratulations to all the winners and thank you for the inspiration!