August  2018 – Hall of Power

August 2018 – Hall of Power

A group of high school seniors are challenging the stigma associated with hip hop in the Ottawa arts scene and in the general community.

In their upcoming photography exhibition, titled Hall of Power, John McCrae Secondary School’s senior photography class utilizes portraiture to shed light on the vital role that hiphop plays in giving a voice to people of all ages and genders.

The portraits highlight local hip hop artists who embody the students’ message that hiphop can be a powerful platform for discourse around mental health and female empowerment. In addition to showcasing these artists, the show hopes to bridge the gap between the local arts scene and hip hop scene, and speaks out against the disparity in funding and attention generally given to hip hop artists.

The students hope to display the show at multiple Ottawa venues in the coming months, including The Origin Arts & Community Centre, The Flavour Factory, John McCrae Secondary School, as well as at various arts festivals. They hope to leverage this platform to inspire and educate their peers about the opportunities available for young artists in the community, and to highlight the importance of the arts as a powerful avenue for social change.

To support this group of students and artists, please join us for #JustDrinks at 57 Lyndale Ave on August 21st at 6:00pm!

Micro-grants Making Waves in Ottawa

Micro-grants Making Waves in Ottawa

Ottawa’s micro-granting scene is hot. Awesome projects need look no further than Awesome Ottawa, women in the arts can tap into Tontine, Soup Ottawa provides one-off opportunities on various themes, and we accelerate great ideas for social and environmental change. If you haven’t yet explored these options, do!

We’re lucky to have such a diversity of micro-granting opportunities within our city. It speaks to the need to do funding differently, the need for accessible funding and the desire for both applicants and granters to contribute in a hands-on way to making change in our community.

JustChange was happy to learn about a new granting opportunity in our city, Ottawa Wave Makers, intended to boost new and innovative ideas around ocean awareness.

Ocean awareness? Yes, ocean awareness!

Canada has the longest coastline of any country on the planet, a whopping 15% percent of the entire world’s coast. Healthy oceans are vital to our communities, our health, and our economy. And while the ocean isn’t visible from our city, the nation’s capital, we must keep working to ensure that our waters remain healthy for the benefit of future generations.

Ottawa Wave Makers is a partnership between World Wildlife Fund Canada and HUB Ottawa. They will be distributing a total of $28,000 through grants of up to $5,000 for projects that raise awareness about Canada’s oceans in our city. Eligible projects include but are not limited to: campaigns, events, art installations, conferences, pop-up events, mobile applications, and workshops.

With all these options, there’s no excuse not to get started on, or further your next big idea for our city. Apply to Ottawa Wave Makers by April 30, 2015, or learn more about what other local groups are funding and apply to…


JustChange St. John’s launches to accelerate great ideas for Newfoundland

JustChange St. John’s launches to accelerate great ideas for Newfoundland


Allow me introduce JustChange St.John’s.

Cameron Campbell and the new and inspiring folks in Newfoundland and Labrador have begun a new JustChange chapter on the east coast. They will be piloting the model for the next little while, adopting JustChange into their own context and their own community, while keeping the core values and structure intact. Certainly, this will be an exciting time for both Ottawa and St. John’s, as there will be lots to learn from each other. Therefore, please bear with us as we go forward, for there may be more changes ahead. That being said, the JustChange Ottawa grant, coming out of our own pockets, to accelerate new and great ideas, will always remain the same.

If you are interested in learning more about JustChange, please let us know. (,

Congratulations to our new JustChangers,

Read Guernsey

JustChange St. John’s – The focus is small, the potential is great!

Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) is home to amazing people and vibrant communities. Ideas and innovators surround us, but sometimes they just need a little help to change their ideas into realities. At JustChange St. John’s we believe that by sharing our common wealth, experiences, and skills there is little that can’t be achieved. Supporting local innovations is what we want to do, but we need your help to do it.

The model is simple. If you or your organization has a great idea, but lacks the start up funding to get it off the ground then apply for one of our bi-monthly grants. We’ll help successful applicants try to realize their vision with a grant (non-repayable!) and any in-kind support we can provide.

JustChangeWe are committed to contributing to ideas and projects that have the potential to make real change in our province. We want to support projects focused on social justice, environmental sustainability, economic and rural development, and improvements in public health. We believe there are great ideas on both sides of the overpass. We don’t care if you live in a small town in coastal Labrador or row house in downtown St. John’s. What we do care about is the vision and enthusiasm you bring and the potential impact your project might have on the people of our province.

JustChange St. John’s was formed by a group of enthusiastic millennials who are originally from across NL and Atlantic Canada. We all call St. John’s home and have a desire to give back to the province that’s given us so much. We were inspired by the work of JustChange Ottawa and decided to bring the model to Newfoundland and Labrador. We knew there were people in NL that would be willing, able, and eager to contribute to innovative, social and environmentally minded projects with the potential to improve the lives of citizens across our province.

As young professionals with student debt, car payments and mortgages we see JustChange as an opportunity to give back without waiting until we can afford to do more. Pooling our resources allows us to give a deserving person, team, or organization a financial boost to get their project off the ground. Pooling our talents and skills allows us to lend support to successful applicants as they set out to accomplish their goals. Establishing a new giving circle in the province will allow us to turn each individual’s monthly pocket change into a bi-monthly no-strings-attached $1,000 grant. Working collectively, we have the opportunity to make a much larger contribution than any one of us could make on our own.

JustChange St. John'sWe want to hear your vision for a more progressive, sustainable, healthy, or economically stable Newfoundland and Labrador. Your idea can be big or small, focused on a small community or open to the entire world. We want to empower social enterprises, non-governmental organizations, community groups, and individuals with great ideas. If you have a project that needs some extra support then we want to hear from you. As long as you can make the case that your project will benefit people in our province we’re willing to help you make it a reality.

We’ve just opened the application process for our first $1000.00 grant – to be given out in July 2014. If you’re willing to take a risk and pursue your idea, we’re willing to take a risk and help you succeed.

St. John’s Call for Proposals closes June 30th, 2014. Successful applicants will be notified during the 2nd week of July.

– The JustChange St. John’s Team

Cameron, Dave, Eddy, Heather, Jonas, Matt, Meghan, Stephanie and Stephen

 P.S. We want to thank the JustChange Ottawa board for their support, encouragement, and willingness to embrace a new chapter.


Accessibility for Humanity receives grant

Accessibility for Humanity receives grant


2013-02-07 16.45.45

Meet Chris Binkowski. In December, Chris came to our sixth grant JustDrinks event and spoke to me about an idea that he was working on. We chatted about it and fine-tuned some ideas. He then submitted an impressive application for the seventh round.

Chris’s idea is to set up a nonprofit that would connect business and building owners with manufacturers of a fairly recent, yet effective product: a small, portable accessibility ramp. Chris would act as an intermediary and marketer for these ramps and employ traditional sales tactics (like sheer determinism) as well as more innovative actions (like including a window sticker in each sale for the business or building owner to put in their front entrance for a win/win). Accessibility for Humanity he calls it: we like the name.AFH-Logo-Standalone-1-D1

Through Chris’s idea, he resolves to address the issue of accessibility. Specifically, Chris will focus on business and building owners who have one or several steps leading up to their entrances. These steps, although few, present a challenge for those with wheelchairs.  This challenge exists all over Ottawa.  As an illustration, try to observe how many stores on Bank, Elgin, Sparks, or Wellington, have steps leading up to their entrance, and imagine never ever being able to access these places as a result. Not being able to access these places disables the city of Ottawa itself.

So Chris now has JustChange’s seventh micro-grant, but he will need you to rally for his cause. Come meet him at the next JustDrinks event on February 25th, at Pressed Café. Chat about his idea, visit his Facebook page, identify businesses that would purchase a ramp (and benefit from expanding their customer-base), offer your support in any way, shape or form. It takes a village after all, and Chris has such a powerful and sensible idea that it could certainly ‘ramp up’.

(sorry, had to) .

See you there,


GivingTuesday: A Post on Giving

GivingTuesday: A Post on Giving

“The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another”. – Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments

As you may know, today is #GivingTuesday.

connectFor those who don’t know, today is a day is where charities, companies and individuals join together to share commitments, rally for favourite causes and think about others ( Naturally then, there will be lots of discussion and celebration today about giving and volunteering. Stories will be shared, and suggestions will be brought forward about how you can share commitments, rally for causes, and think about others.

But I would like to illustrate why I think that JustChange is unlike any story of giving that you will hear today.

I’ll start with the obvious: Our giving consists of no tax credits, no qualified donees, no grant-making priorities, no invested assets, no operation or administrative or overhead expenses. There’s no reporting requirements, outcomes measurements, or shared value. What we do is take money out of our own pockets, and give it to a person or group of people who have a really great idea that we want to see happen in our community.

We don’t use crowdfunding platforms, other than physically getting together to decide on a winner and put money into a jar. We don’t hold fundraisers or campaigns other than to meet up for drinks (what we have dubbed ‘JustDrinks’) and celebrate that winner with anyone who would like to come and meet them.

The whole structure is remarkably simple, but the reasons behind it’s simplicity is perhaps less obvious. In true blogging form, I will focus on three reasons that I find particularly important.

canadaThe first reason is for filling a funding gap for non-profits and social entrepreneurs. A few people have lovingly called it the ‘pat on the back’ gap. Others call it seed-funding or spark-funding. What we do is help get ideas off the ground, give them a vote of confidence and access to community resources, such as the Hub, CISED, media attention (if desired), our own networks and skills (also only if desired). These are ideas that do not receive funding from traditional financing or funding, often because of significant risk (lack of structure, personal guarantees, etc). But for us, the idea is sound and important for the community, whether it is prototyping new business models with a social mission (Cigbins, Bumbrellas, Bibz) or enabling innovation in non-profit organizations (Sisters Achieving Excellence, Sustainability Bike Tour, COMPASS), then we think it’s worth a shot.

This is important: lacking in Canada is an entrepreneurial spirit and disruptive will for innovation. As the ‘Baby Boomer retirement’ crisis hits the country in full force in this decade and continues into the 2030s, the need for entrepreneurship (to take over for retiring business owners) and innovation (to increase the productivity needed to sustain our country’s current income levels) will become increasingly apparent and alarming. Movements, like Startup Canada, have helped bring national attention to this issue, and have recently put a greater spotlight on social entrepreneurship.  At the very local community level of JustChange Ottawa, we hope to foster a greater appetite for this kind of drive.  We are doing what we can (and what our purses allow us) to help build this kind of positive and entrepreneurial spirit into the social, environmental, cultural, and development work of our community.

JustChangeThe second reason is for building roots and trust in our community. The lack of structure in JustChange provides us, the board members, with such a wonderful freedom to decide on what we want to see in our community, where our money goes, and how it will be used. There is an incredible sense of connection that results from being able to support community initiatives. Through JustChange, we are weaving into the social fabric of the city, and this remarkable effect both fine-tunes our ideas about what to support, and also builds a greater sense of trust between our applicants and us. We don’t use crowdfunding tools or seek out leveraging private or foundation dollars because for us at JustChange, it is less about the size of the Cheque, than it is actually handing it to the applicant.

So my third and final reason is also an announcement: for encouraging replication. Our model is simple, but effective. JustChange is less a structure than it is a way of engaging with a community, planting roots, and building a society through your own choices. Moreover, it is the grassroots connection with the community that makes the model so effective at supporting social entrepreneurial drive. If you know of ten like-minded individuals who would be amenable to something like this, then drop a line to We would be delighted to have a chat.