MaRS believes that social enterprises are essential to support our community and economy. So we’re proud to be a funding partner (along with 11 other organizations) of the Enterprising Non-Profits Toronto (ENP-TO) awards.

I was there last week when the cheques were handed out  — $100,000 to 16 organizations in all — and, I’ll tell you, there was an energized buzz in the room.

This program helps MaRS learn about the emerging social enterprise sector while helping pilot programs do good.  The recipients were genuinely touched to receive their grants; it has been a struggle for many of these folks for a number of years. I’m proud that MaRS not only financially supports these awards but also offers advisory services to give the winners the greatest chance of success.

Mayor Miller was on hand and spoke of his support of ENP and the benefits of the enterprising non-profits program for our City. And by the way, the Mayor is looking fine: passed the cheese and settled for grapes!

And the winners are (drumroll please…) :

  • Sustainability, hard work and determination is what St. Stephen’s Community House (SSCH) Conflict Resolution Services is all about. They have offered professional mediation, training and consulting services to help individuals, organizations and businesses better manage conflict and difficult relationships for 20 years. Their grant will help them develop and implement a business development plan that will build their social enterprise and increase profitability. These guys are already a MaRS client.
  • Twitter, which our Mayor does on a regular basis, blogging, Flickr, this program and that!? We (that includes moi) need to embrace the technological times of which we live and ensure that all have access to training and technology. Coupled with this, employment skills are not a given and so very important to make accessible. The Working Skills Centre Academy of Computer & Employment Skills received a grant to undertake a long-term marketing plan and to rebrand its community-based training program as the Academy of Computer & Employment Skills. With enp-TO’s support, WSC seeks to attract a more diverse and larger client base that will contribute to the organization’s sustainability.
  • The time to get green is NOW, renewable energy sources is the way. Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC) will assess the feasibility of evolving its Our Power project into an enterprise model, charging customers a fee for the advice and information it currently provides for free.
  • Our youth are our future! The Somali Business Development Centre – CultureLink Printshop is receiving a  grant toward business plan development for CultureLink Printshop, a commercial print shop with a focus on training and employment for disadvantaged immigrant youth.
  • I heard on the news that when times are tough the movie business is booming. What’s good about the faltering Canadian dollar right now? The movie Industry!! Hollywood North is making a slow come back and Hot Docs in on the leading edge to help this industry along. They have been granted funds to create a sophisticated business plan that will ensure the longevity of the Digital Doc Shop, Hot Docs’ social enterprise. The Digital Doc Shop is a groundbreaking new system that aggregates filmmakers’ completed projects in an interactive, digitized environment, which allows their art to be accessed by a global audience.

… to name a few. For a complete listing of all recipients and their programs  visit ENP-TO at

Carol-Ann Smith

Carol-Ann is an associate of the Social Innovation Generation program at MaRS. See more…