Ready. Set. Experiment.
When was the last time you took a risk? Tried something just to see if it could work? Were encouraged to experiment and maybe fail? Received resources to do some early research and development (R&D)? It doesn't happen a lot in social change work – we believe it should happen a lot more often.
That's why we were excited to host a learning journey for 32 social change experiments across the country.
Across Canada, people came forward with innovative experiments to test new ideas for the future of our communities and our country. Jointly funded by the McConnell Foundation, Community Foundations of Canada and the Government of Canada via the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th anniversary, this initiative was all about experimentation and early stage R&D: Taking risks, testing new ideas on the ground, gathering evidence of what works and what doesn’t, and sharing those results so that promising approaches and interventions can be scaled.
These experiments included projects in seven provinces and two territories. Fifteen took place in large urban centres, and 11 were based in communities with a population of less than 35,000. The cohort included experiments that:
- Tested a closed-loop plastic transformation model for remote communities in Nunavut to collect plastic waste and transform it into commercial goods
- Piloted a gender and innovation learning network and gender lab
- Adapted a UK model where community members host youth at risk of homelessness in their homes in York/Durham Region
We expected some of these experiments to fail – and some failed courageously! While results and impact are important, they’re never guaranteed. The point of this exercise was for those who undertook these projects to develop new skills, create partnerships with unlikely allies, strengthen their capacity to deliver results through learning and experimentation, and support R&D that can unlock new innovations. And in this, it was a great success.
As part of this learning journey, CKX hosted a series of virtual peer-learning circles for the cohort and pulled together data and stories to identify patterns and lessons about promising approaches.
We shared lessons with Employment and Social Development Canada’s Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy Co-Creation Steering Group, the Social R&D Fellowship, community practitioners, academics and funders who are interested in learning about the value and importance of funding early stage R&D projects.
The following organizations and groups took part:
Alberta Recreation and Parks Association
Canadian Blind Hockey
Central Urban Metis Federation Inc.
City of Surrey
Community Living Parry Sound
Eastside Movement for Business and Economic Renewal Society (EMBERS)
Hives for Humanity Society
Inspire Nunavut Inc.
L.I.N.C. (Long-term Inmates Now in the Community)
Manitoba Food Charter Inc.
Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal
New Dawn Community Development Educational Foundation
Powered by Data
Raising the Roof/Chez Toit
Rural Communities Foundation of Nova Scotia
Simon Fraser University
Teach For Canada
The Ulnooweg Indigenous Communities Foundation
True Sport Foundation
United Way of Perth Huron
Vivo for Healthier Generations
Water First Education and Training Inc.
West Neighbourhood House