2018 Ottawa Social Impact Awards: Congratulations to the Recipients!

In January 2018, together with the City of Ottawa and the IgniteAC Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Algonquin College, we launched the second edition of the Ottawa Social Impact Awards to celebrate the leaders in our community who are making our city more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Today we are honoured to congratulate not only the recipients of the awards, but all 42 of the nominees who together collected an astounding 22 thousand votes and who, by so doing helped us shine a light on the positive impact Ottawa based organisations and individuals are having on our city.

The aim of the 2018 Ottawa Social Impact Awards is to highlight Ottawa-based community initiatives, student-led projects, and social enterprises that have significant potential for growth and lasting impact. In choosing the criteria for selecting the recipients we also wanted to emphasize the power of the collective and recognise social innovation in our community that is turning the status quo upside down.

And the winners are …

Deputy Mayor Mark Taylor announced the winners at the GenNext Mix & Mingle on February 22 to a crowd of enthusiastic supporters, innovators, and change-makers. In this second edition of the Ottawa Social Impact Awards there were three categories: Social Enterprise, Community Based Initiative and Future Leaders. The third category was a new category for this awards series and an important one, as it recognises that social innovation can also be sparked by young, emerging leaders and does not require the formalities of a structured organisation or enterprise. So who are the winners?

Social Enterprise Category: Hidden Harvest Ottawa

Hidden Harvest is a volunteer-based social enterprise engaged in revealing, harvesting and sharing the fruit and nuts around Ottawa. After harvest events, ¼ is delivered the nearest food agency, ¼ is shared with the property owner, ¼ is shared amongst the harvesters, and ¼ is left with Hidden Harvest Ottawa. But their impact is deeper than “just” picking & sharing food. Each harvest provides a wealth of social (meet neighbours under trees), environmental (participate in stewardship) & economic (jam! beer!) benefits. Their roots run deep and bring new social and ecological connections to light cross-pollinating collaboration across agroecology, tech and diverse cultures to nurture our city.

Community Initiative Category: Ausome Ottawa

Ausome is the only organization in Ottawa dedicated to removing barriers to physical activity to kids with autism and their families. They teach kids physical literacy skills that they need to play and be active in their community. They train community leaders who support those with autism in sport and recreation. They provide introductory, supported sports programs where they don’t exist already, and bridge the gap to participating in existing programs- all of this free of charge to families.

Future Leaders Category: Algonquin College Public Relations Agency

For the past 32 years, the students of the Algonquin College Public Relations Agency (ACPR) have partnered with local charities to raise awareness and funds to help bring positive change within the Ottawa community. Over the years, the ACPR students have raised more than $300,000 for charitable organizations through annual student run events. This fundraising opportunity provides the students a hands on educational experience, while allowing them the chance to contribute to society.

Judges, shortlist and honourable mentions

The winners were chosen through a two-tiered process, first public votes determined the reach and engagement potential of each nominee and the organisations with most votes made the shortlist sent to the panel of judges who then determined the final winners.

This Year’s Judging Panel

  • Catherine McKenney: City Councillor of the Somerset Ward in Ottawa
  • Albert Wong: Director of Junior Achievement Ottawa at the Ottawa Network for Education
  • Leanna Verrucci: Managing Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Algonquin College


Social Enterprise Category

  • Gourmet-Xpress – Launched by the Vanier Community Service Centre in 2008, Gourmet-Xpress is a non-profit social enterprise that provides catering services. Gourmet Xpress is also a skills training program and our mission is to help individuals who have significant barriers to employment.
  • NU Grocery – Nu is Ottawa’s first zero waste grocery store. It provides an opportunity to do groceries without creating unnecessary packaging waste by offering almost every daily need (with the exception of meat and fish) in bulk or redeemable containers. Customers are invited to bring their own containers (jars, bottles, bags) and fill them up with the products they need, completely waste free.

Community Initiative Category

  • Humans for Peace Institution – Humans for Peace Institution (HPI) is a worldwide volunteer-driven organization dedicated to improving individuals and society. It is registered as a not-for-profit organization in Canada and as NGO with the UN. The vision to help improve the connections between the Syrian refugee community and mainstream society in Ottawa. As the vast majority of Canadians have welcomed Syrian refugees to the country with open arms and hearts, we wanted to have a way to enable Syrians in Ottawa to give back to the larger community.
  • Refugee 613 – Refugee 613’s mission is to inform, connect and inspire Ottawa to welcome and integrate refugees. Remembering that ‘knowledge is power,’ it fosters connections and civic partnerships in support of vulnerable newcomers through the innovative use of communications tools. Its work is digital and old-school, in-person and online, because Refugee 613 recognizes that by working together in service of others, we strengthen our own relationships.

Future Leaders Category

  • Spoken Visions – Spoken Visions is a creative motivational platform on the pursuit to reach young passionate people; aspiring to connect and inspire others to ignite their own ambitions. The creator Liz Clarke, is an active poet in Ottawa, sharing her poetry in numerous communities and settings. Her goal is to motivate young individuals to maximize their potential using talents, skills and creativity. She has worked with youth and young adults in the community, building connections and being an influencer.
  • Women in Management Network – WMN empowers women to own their talent and be more confident in the world of business. This student-run initiative at Telfer aims to turn informative to transformative by fostering transformative relationships between professionals & students in diverse business fields, and provide crucial workshops beyond the classroom. Having empowered women who know their worth and understand the overwhelming impact diversity management can have towards an organization’s bottom line is the future of Ottawa.

Exceptionally, this year’s judges also decided to add an ‘honourable mentions’ category for nominees who didn’t make the final selection but who they felt deserved special recognition. LEARN ABOUT THEM AND THE REST OF THIS YEAR’S NOMINEES!

The 2018 Ottawa Social Impact Awards could not have happened without the collaboration and support of our partners, collaborators and prize contributors!

Impact Award 2018 Partners FINAL

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