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Provincial government launches new $55-million fund to help Toronto youth

Over the next three years, the provincial government will invest $55-million into supporting at-risk youth through its recently announced Enhanced Youth Action Plan

The centrepiece of the recently released plan is the newly revamped Youth Opportunities Fund. Over the past couple of years, the Ontario Trillium Foundation has used $5-million a year to fund various youth focused programs in and around the Greater Toronto Area. Starting in 2016, it will be provided with an additional $1.45-million a year to allocate to initiatives in the city. 

According to Anne Machowski-Smith, a spokesperson for the province's Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the fund will start supporting communities throughout the province through a $6.495 investment. 

Machowski says that initiatives like the Enhanced Youth Action Plan and its predecessor, which was released in 2012, have had a significant impact on both the city and province. 

According to its statistics, the provincial government estimates that incidents of violent youth crime in Ontario declined by 30 per cent between 2003 and 2013. In that same time frame, the city saw a 44 per cent drop.

That said, both Machowski and her colleagues believe that there's a lot more work that can be done. 

"We cannot do it alone. We need to work through partnerships with our federal and municipal partners, businesses, youth leaders and service agencies. They are key players and can provide valuable insight and support," she says. "Only by working together will we be able to strengthen our communities and create safe neighbourhoods where our children have a better future."

University of Toronto steps up its city-planning game

While most Canadians were enjoying Canada Day off, Professor Shauna Brail, a senior lecturer at the University of Toronto's Geography and Planning department, was preparing to start her new role as a special advisor to UofT President Meric Gentler. 

She and John Brodhead, the executive director of Evergreen CityWorks, were appointed in June to advise President Gentler on city-building. Part of their mandate is to help better facilitate the sharing of city-building knowledge between different researchers at University of Toronto and with other communities in Toronto. 

"We have strengths in so many fields at UofT—architecture, engineering, geography and planning—and we’re starting to really understand the impact that all of these fields play on the way our cities develop and the way decisions are made," says Professor Brail. "If we can work together even better collectively, then we can have an even greater impact on the result and possible outcomes both for creating new policy, thinking about new problems in different ways, developing innovative ideas and further promoting student learning." 

Professor Brail and her colleagues will look at how issues like economic development and urban land use affect prosperity and economic inequality in cities. 

As for how the university will measure the success of the initiative, Professor Brail is honest enough to admit that she's not sure yet. 

"I do think the answer is a bit tricky, and I don’t know that I have a fully fleshed out answer, but I hope to do soon," she says. But, she has high hopes for what can come from these new advisory roles. 

"If as a result of these roles we can help to share data in a more effective way, and if we can better leverage our own research funding to better support communities,  policy development that help make life better for many people better within the city, then that’s a real strength and something that we can specifically point to," she says. 

At the very least, Professor Brail sees this an opportunity to become even more involved in the community she's been engaged in throughout her career. 

"Academics typically have had the luxury of retreating back into academia when people disagree with their finding," she says. "Even though that’s a luxury, it’s probably something we should not take advantage of; in fact, it’s something we need to rally against."

Youth entrepreneurship program Future Design School comes to the the North York Region

After a successful launch in Toronto, Future Design School (FDS) is expanding to other parts of South Western Ontario.   

Last week, the school announced a partnership with ventureLAB—a regional innovation centre that supports entrepreneurs in the York Region, Simcoe County and Muskoka District communities—and Southlake Regional Health Centre. 

The three organizations will work together to host a one week summer camp that will provide students entering grades six to eight an opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship. Starting on August 17, Sarah Prevette, the founder of FDS, says the aim of the program is to help youth unlock their inner creativity. 

"Our summer program is really about getting kids involved in exploring what they’re interested in, what they’re passionate about and what they’re good at," she says.  

Since the last time Yonge Street spoke with Prevette, the program she and her colleagues started at MaRS has quickly expanded to offer not just workshops for youth but programming for teachers, as well. It's all part of her plan to help Canada's youth become independent self-starters. 

"I think the program enables kids to see themselves as capable entrepreneurs. They’re able to look at the world and see all the opportunities around them," says Prevette. "I think that’s an important cultural shift we need to be making. The more we can enable kids to see themselves as empowered problem solvers, the better off we’re going to be as a society." 

Interested parents can learn more about this particular program and all the initiatives Future Design School run on its website

Who's hiring in Toronto? CivicAction, Fan Expo and more...

CivicAction is hiring an office manager and executive assistant to its CEO (to be clear, that’s one position). On the office manager side of things, duties involve maintaining the organization’s records and completing regular financial tasks like billing and invoicing. Other duties include providing support with HR-related tasks.

When it comes the executive assistant side of the coin, the most important duty involves managing the CEO’s calendar and deciding what appointments to schedule and prioritize. Civic action says it’s looking for someone with excellent project and time management. Strong written and oral skills are a must, too. The deadline to apply is this Friday, June 19. If you’re passionate about the city and have the skillset CivicAction is looking for, make sure to submit a resume.

Fan Expo, one of Canada’s largest conventions devoted to comics, gaming and anime, is hiring a graphic designer. The person that takes on this role will be responsible for creating the look and feel of all the convention’s promotional material—that is, things like flyers, show guides and so on. Beyond that, helping create a coherent visual aesthetic for the convention’s branding is a major part of the role. Five-plus years of experience in the design field is a must, as is fluency with programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. No specific deadline to submit resumes for this one. Fan Expo, by the way, takes place this September 3rd to 6th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Lastly, the Home Depot is looking to add an environmental project manager to its team. This role involves creating and implementing initiatives that help the company grow its revenue while also increasing its profile as a sustainable company. In terms of job requirements, the Home Depot is looking for someone with four-plus years in a related field. A strong understanding of different sustainability practices is also required. The deadline to apply is June 21st.  

Do you know of a job opportunity with an innovative company or organization? Let us know!

Ontario invests $89-million in research projects across the city

On Tuesday, the Government of Ontario announced a new round of research funding. 

All told, the province is investing $209-million into more than 200 research projects across the province. 

Of those 200 projects, 105 are being conducted right here in the city. In monetary terms, about $89-million is being invested in the city. 

The researchers the province is funding come from a wide variety of fields, including the health sciences and the clean tech spaces. 

For instance, a group of researchers the University of Toronto received funding to continue work on a more efficient and environmentally friendly airplane gas turbine. According to Belinda Bein, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Research and Innovation, the turbine these scientists are developing is far more efficient than current models, and is significantly easier to maintain.

Another project, this time from Sick Kids Hospital, is studying how chemotherapy affects the brains of children that receive treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer. 

"Investment in research and development (R&D) by business and government is essential for a successful knowledge-based economy," says Bein. "Investments in education and training, and creating the right environment for new industries are key drivers of long-term competitiveness."

She adds that since 2003 the province's funding programs have helped give $2.9-billion to Ontario's researchers, creating 86,000 training opportunities in the process.  Additionally, since 2005, 822 Early Researcher Awards have been given out, which she says have been vitally important to attracting top talent to the province. 

"We also see the benefits of investing in research with the breakthrough discoveries, game-changing technologies, and scientific progress in cancer research, genomics, genetics and regenerative medicine, renewable energies and more, that are happening right here in Ontario." 

Provincial government invests 23.5 million into new centre for senior health

By 2030, the youngest members of the baby boomers generation will turn 65. According to a recent report by Statistics Canada, 23.6 per cent, or almost one-quarter, of this country's population will be over the age of 65 by the time the calendar hits that year. In Ontario alone, 4.2 million members of the population will be seniors. 

It's a demographic shift that is expected to have a profound effect on Canadian society. In particular, the cost of healthcare is expected to skyrocket with so much of the population reaching a critical age. The time to prepare for this shift is now. 

On Friday, the Government of Ontario announced a new five year, $23.5-million investment in to the Baycrest Health Sciences facility at Bathurst and Baycrest. The $23.5-million will go towards the creation of the new Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation.    

With this investment, the provincial government says it hopes to create a new national hub for the development of technologies, products and resources that help people maintain their cognitive, emotional and physical well-being well in to their twilight years. 

In a statement issued to Yonge Street, Premier Kathleen Wynne, said of the centre, "our investment in this centre will allow new advances in brain research and care, cementing Ontario's position as an innovation leader and ensuring that people can continue to lead healthy lives as they age." 

Who's hiring in Toronto? The Working Group, Nascent Digital and more...

The Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital is hiring a writer to help with its outbound communications. The person that that takes on this role will be responsible for creating a variety of written content for the hospital, including newsletters, speaking notes and marketing appeals. The hospital would like someone with five-plus years of experience in journalism, marketing or a related field where creative writing is an important facet of the job. No deadline to apply is listed.

One of Toronto’s leading software development houses, The Working Group, is hiring multiple senior software engineers. The company is looking for someone with five years of experience in the web and mobile app development space. Specifically, TWG would like someone that is knowledgeable in Ruby on Rails, Node.js, PHP, Java, Python, MySQL, Postgres, Git and Continuous Integration. As with the previous position, there’s no deadline to apply for this one.

Another digital agency looking for help is Nascent Digital. Some might recall that the company went on a hiring spree a couple of months back. Now they're at it again, hiring a senior UX designer, a senior app engineer, a full stack developer, and a delivery manager. For the last position, the company is looking for someone with five years of experience, a computer science degree and someone that understands that “you get that good isn’t great.” Check out each link for more information on the other positions.    

Lastly, the Ontario Trillium Foundation is looking for a communications officer to join its organization. Much of the role involves interacting with the media to help to keep them apprised of what the OTF is doing. Only applicants with a five years of experience and a degree in journalism, public relations or corporate communications will be considered. The deadline to apply is June 22.

Do you know of a job opportunity with an innovative company or organization? Let us know!

UofT professor helps launch the first open data standard

From issues like youth employment to social justice, open data is increasingly being seen as the panacea to a variety of city-related problems. The problem is that different cities use different metrics and methodologies to measure a variety factors. There is no agreed upon standard by which different cities can compare and contrast one another. 
That is until now. 
A new initiative called the Open City Data Portal aims to correct that problem by creating a standardized set of metrics, and has its roots in Toronto.  
The project was started by Patricia McCarney, a professor at the University of Toronto. Starting in 2008 as the Global City Indicators Facility (GCIF), the professor and her colleagues asked nine cities from around the world to submit data sets. When all was said and done, the nine cities sent over data sets that used a 1000 different indicators to measure a variety of factors affecting urban environments.
Everyone at the GCIF realized that they needed to create a universal standard, which is how the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 37120 and the World Council on City Data was born. The publication of ISO 37120 marks the first time that there's been an international standard on city services and quality of life.   
"ISO 37120 and the WCCD Open City Data Portal will allow cities, for the first time, to have standardized data so they can speak to each other and learn from each other, to measure themselves against peer cities from around the world and to analyze, benchmark and compare," says Professor McCarney. "Data is an extremely important commodity for city planning in the face of climate change and aging infrastructure. Toronto, and cities around the world, will be able to learn from each other and to prepare for everything from demographic shifts to increasing demands for increased infrastructure spending on education or healthcare."
Besides Toronto, cities such as Boston, Los Angeles, London, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam and Shanghai are participating in the initiative. Of the cities listed above, Toronto has the highest ratio of residents with post secondary degrees, and a city like Barcelona has the highest life expectancy. However, Professor McCarney wants that the database isn't about comparing cities. 
"What makes ISO 37120 and the WCCD unique is that neither are about 'ranking' cities in the traditional sense," she says. "This isn’t about 'What city is best?', rather it’s about 'How can a city become the best version of itself for its citizens?'”
By the end of the 2016, the World Council on City Data will hundreds of more cities to its database, though Toronto residents can take a look at it right now. 
"Open data allows citizens direct access to information that was formerly only accessible through a tedious bureaucratic process, if at all available for public consumption," says the professor. "Today’s modern city dwellers want, require and deserve an understanding as to how their city functions." 

Who's hiring in Toronto? The Drake Hotel, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and more...

Some of the more interesting employment opportunities we've spotted this week include:

The Drake Hotel has several managerial openings available. It’s hiring a retail sales manager, a business to business sales manager and a marketing manager. The first position entails developing and implementing sales initiatives with the hotel’s chain of retail stores. Other duties include ensuring that the Drake’s stores have a consistent visual and brand aesthetic. A minimum of eight years of experience is required to apply for this position.

Visit the Drake’s website to find out more about all three positions and to apply. For those interested, the Drake also has several sales associate positions open. No deadline to apply is listed for any of the above positions.

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation is adding a digital media manager to its team. Essentially, the position involves ensuring the smooth operation of the Run for the Cure website. Duties including quashing any bugs that may exist on the site, as well as helping lead the development of new features. The organization would like someone that is proficient in HTML and CSS—ideally HTML5 and CSS3, respectively—JavaScript, jQuery, Silverlight, PHP, Ruby and Wordpress, among other online standards and programing languages. Applications need to be submitted by this Friday, May 22.

The organization is also looking for a marketing and communication specialist. Responsibilities include working with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s marketing team to identify and capitalize on marketing opportunities. In terms of qualifications, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation is looking for someone with three to five years of experience, preferably gained within the realm of social and digital media. As with other positions of this type, strong written and oral skills, as well as an understanding of social channels like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Pinterest is required. The deadline to apply for this position is May 27.

Another organization that is hiring across multiple positions is UrbanArts. In this case, the organization is looking to add a programs manager and operations manager to its team. The latter involves helping the organization’s management development and implement effective human resources and revenue policies. Check out the organization’s postings on Bmeaningful to get a better sense of each positions. UrbanArts hasn’t listed a deadline for applications to be submitted.

Do you know of a job opportunity with an innovative company or organization? Let us know!

Ontario the top destination for foreign capital for the second year in a row

For the second year in a row, Ontario has earned the top spot as one of the leading destinations for foreign investment in North America. 

That's according to a new report from fDi Intelligence, a division of the UK-based business publication the Financial Times. fDi says that foreign bodies invested some $7.1-billion into the province, which helped create 13,055 jobs. 

The province beat out larger, more populous states like California, Texas and South Carolina—which received $6.4-billion, $3.7-billion and $3.5-billion, respectively—to take the top spot. 

According to the report, the majority of foreign investment into Ontario came from the United States, United Kingdom and Germany. Moreover, the top three sectors to receive capital were business services, software and information technology, and financial services. 

"Our government has demonstrated a true willingness to showcase the benefits of investing in our province, and to strategically partnering with business and other jurisdictions to increase our competitiveness," said Brad Duguid, Ontario's Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, in a statement issued to Yonge Street on the report. "Ontario is one of the best places in the world to invest in, and we will keep working hard to grow our economy, break down trade barriers, and create good jobs across the province.”

Government of Ontario invests $56-million into new centre for special needs children

On May 8, the provincial government announced a new $56-million investment into ErinoakKids.

The centre for children with special needs will use the capital towards the construction of its new facility in Mississauga.    

When completed, the 103,000 square foot facility will be the largest centre for the treatment of special needs children in Ontario. It will also replace the existing network of 11 facilities ErinoakKids depends on to deliver its services.   

According to Anne Machowski, a spokesperson for the provincial government, the new centre will help serve some 15,000 children in around the Mississauga and the Greater Toronto Area. "This investment increases the capacity to provide integrated services. Children and youth will have access to a range of services in a single location, resulting in better co-ordinated supports and services. This will make it easier for families across the region to access treatment," she said in an email interview. "The centres will provide services for children and youth with physical, developmental and communication disorders, as well as those with autism, hearing and vision impairment."

Among the amenities those children will be able to take advantage of are a fully accessible playground, two gyms, and a serenity garden. There will also be a drop-in centre for older youth.  

To date, Machowski says the provincial government has invested $163-million in to Erinoak. The centre is using the capital to build two other facilities that will be located in Oakville and Brampton. 

However, Machowski goes on to add that there are several other things that the provincial government is trying to do when it comes to helping children with special needs. One of the things the government has acknowledged it needs to do better is make the transition between different special needs services more seamless. Erinoak marks a step in the right direction.

Who's hiring in Toronto? Toronto International Film Festival, Sick Kids Foundation and more...

Some of the more interesting employment opportunities we've spotted this week include:

Collective Concerts, one of Toronto’s largest concert promoters, is hiring an administrative assistant. The person that takes on this role will be responsible for maintaining guest lists, posting to social media channels—including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—and providing journalists with media accreditation, among other duties. The company hasn’t said when it will stop accepting applications, but based on its posting, Collective looks like it’s attempting to fill the position as soon as possible.

With the Luminato Festival approaching—it starts on June 19—the organization in charge of putting on the festival is looking for customer service representatives. This position involves selling tickets and providing festival-goers with information on events, promotions and packages over the phone and through email. At least two years of experience working in a box office environment is required. Additionally, the usual mix of excellent written and oral skill and a pleasant demeanour is required. The deadline to submit an application is this Friday, May 15.

For university and high school students in search of a summer job, the Toronto International Film Festival is hiring camp counsellors for its annual summer camp. Responsibilities include ensuring that campers are playing safely, assisting with cleanup and acting a positive role model. Applicants must be at least 16, have certifications in first-aid and CPR, as well as previous experience working in a camp setting and a love and understanding of film. The deadline to apply is May 22.   

Lastly, the SickKids Foundation is adding a community events manager to its team. Responsibilities include developing, implementing and maintaining fundraising programs for the organization, and using data analytics to help with donor acquisition. The organization’s ideal candidate is someone with a relevant university or college degree, experience developing fundraising programs and knowledge of software programs like Blackbaud, Raiser’s Edge and Convio Experience. Applications should be submitted by this Friday, May 15.

Do you know of a job opportunity with an innovative company or organization?Let us know!

MaRS and SDTC partner to help grow Canada's cleantech sector

In the same week that the New Democratic Party won Alberta’s provincial election, signaling a future where the province might move towards something of a post-oil economy, MaRS and Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) announced a new partnership that will see the two organizations work towards supporting the growth of Canada’s growing cleantech industry.  

The goal of the partnership, according to Jon Dogterom, venture services lead with MaRS’s Cleantech and Physical Science team, is help launch high impact cleantech companies that can compete on the global stage. "This partnership is about formalizing our plans to collaborate to help grow high impact globally competitive cleantech companies," he said in a phone interview.

The two organizations will work together to deliver funding, support and programming to select companies.

Dogterom says the two organizations hope to help create a $50-billion Canadian cleantech industry within the next five to ten years. A large percentage of Canada’s existing cleantech industry calls Ontario, and, in particular, Toronto home. Thus, a prosperous cleantech industry likely means an even more prosperous Toronto.    

“The future in job creation goes with where the opportunities are, and cleantech to me is the biggest opportunity,” said Dogterom.

Clean skies and more jobs, not a bad combination by any stretch of the imagination.  

SpaceFinder Toronto launches an Airbnb for Toronto artists

Despite the occasional horror story, there’s a lot to like about services like Airbnb. People that own a house or apartment can make a bit of money by renting out their home when they’re not using it, and those renting can save a bit of money by forgoing an expensive hotel. So it’s no surprise that a variety of other Airbnb-like services have started to pop up.

Case in point: last week, SpaceFinder Toronto, a service that styles itself as the Airbnb for Toronto artists, officially launched in Toronto after a several month long trial period.   

The concept is simple: like homeowners on Airbnb, individuals and groups that own space that can be used for the creative arts can use SpaceFinder’s website to rent their space out to people in need of that space.

At launch, the platform has 375 spaces artists can rent.

According to Kate Nankervis, the co-artistic director of Hub14, an artist-run dance studio near Bathurst and Queen, "SpaceFinder has increased our rentals by 25 per cent in only a couple months and connected us with new renters from various artistic disciplines.” She says the platform also has an intuitive administrative backend that has helped her team cut down on the amount of time they need to spend managing the space.

The platform was developed and designed by Fractured Atlas, a New York City-based arts organization that says it aims to empower artists and art organizations by eliminating the practical barriers to artistic expression. Several local organizations, including ArtsBuild Ontario, the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts and WorkInCulture with Fractured Atlas to bring the program to Toronto. Additionally, the Metcalf Foundation provided some initial capital to get the program off the ground in Toronto.  

According to a spokesperson from Fractured Atlas, SpaceFinder is set to launch in Hamilton later this year. They also mentioned that the organization is in talks with various arts organizations in Calgary to bring the platform there as well.

BetaKit founder Sarah Prevette launches Future Design School

A new Toronto-based initiative wants to teach children important problem solving skills through the lens of entrepreneurship.

Started by BetaKit founder Sarah Prevette, Future Design School (FDS) launched last Thursday at MaRS Discovery District.  

“Future Design School enables youth through entrepreneurship experience, design learning and real-world experiments,” says Prevette over the phone. “We’re trying to inspire kids to see the world differently, and to foster their own creative confidence.”

Although FDS will offer its first set of workshops in Toronto, Prevette says her team already has partnerships in place to bring the school’s programs to Waterloo and London. They’re not stopping in Ontario, either. According to Prevette, her goal is to bring FDS to the rest of Canada and eventually even the United States.

Prevette was inspired to start Future Design School after examining her own entrepreneurial career. After spending more than ten years in Toronto’s startup ecosystem, she says she noticed a common thread between herself and all her peers: almost everyone she met had fallen into their entrepreneurial career by accident. This realization, she says, led her to start asking herself some questions.

“Why aren’t we teaching entrepreneurship as a viable career path in schools, and why aren’t we teaching the framework for innovation to kids?” says Prevette. “Ultimately, we need to have more smart people focused on solving real problems.”

For those that don’t see value in teaching children how to be entrepreneurial, Prevette says the initiative is more about teaching kids how to solve problems, which is something useful for kids to have no matter what future career they embark upon.

“We want to give kids the tools so that they can innovate meaningful solutions and have an impact upon society,” she says. “That’s what we’re really about.“

Source: Future Design School
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