Finalists for the BC Ideas ‘People’s Choice Investment’ Need Your Votes

Changemakers launched the “BC Ideas: Solutions for Stronger Communities” online competition five months ago, hoping to identify British Columbia’s best health, social, and environmental innovators. More than 460 changemakers from 82 communities in BC answered the call and entered their ideas to make the province better than ever.

Now, after careful deliberation by our panel of expert judges (more about them here), we’re proud to announce the 11 finalists—and it’s up to you to pick the winners. Between now and November 9, 2012, you can vote for your favorite innovations—the ideas that you want to see in action— at

The top three vote-getters during the voting period will each receive a “People’s Choice Investment” of $15,000 in unrestricted funding.

These are the 11 ideas that are in the running for recognition as the top social innovation in British Columbia (listed in alphabetical order):

Aboriginal eMentoring BC

Aboriginal eMentoring BC is an online mentorship program that helps aboriginal youths in grades 7  through 12 transition from high school to higher education. Its “near-peer” mentorship network connects high schoolers with college students, giving aboriginal youth a sense of direction and while increasing their enrollment in post-secondary health science education programs.

BC Community Investment Funds

Here’s a tool that makes it easier for communities to build and support local economies, as well as promote social development. This locally managed pool of capital is invested in projects that benefit the province—including social enterprises, affordable housing developments and cooperatives—and also offers investors a guaranteed rate of return.

Beauty Night Society

Beauty Night Society (BNS) gives senior citizens, mothers, children, street youth, and survival sex workers a boost in self-esteem and quality of life with programming that addresses life skills development and wellness programs like screening for Type 2 diabetes. And, of course, they do makeovers.

Early Entrepreneurs Experiment

This initiative is convinced that you’re never too young to start something. The experiment teaches children to think and act like social entrepreneurs. Participants receive business, finance, and sales training, and get a crash course in empathy. Student entrepreneurs also get $100 in seed funding and are challenged to turn that cash into $500 while making a social impact with their mini-enterprises.

FirstVoices Language Revitalization

First voices is a community-focused solution that is saving the endangered heritage, culture, and language of First Nation communities. Its Web-based tools and games are designed to archive language data, but also to support creative learning and cultural revitalization.


InclusionWorks! is an innovative model for including young adults with developmental disabilities based on community partnerships, peer support, and family governance. Young adults in the program may benefit from paid employment, new friendships, and recreational and volunteer activities, reducing both health issues and the reliance on social assistance and subsidies for future success.

Inn Home Support: Homelessness Prevention Program

This nonprofit society based in Kelowna, British Columbia tackles homelessness through volunteer advocacy, case management services, and professional in-home support for people in transition. Their emergency overnight shelter also gives people who live on the street a roof over their heads during the coldest months of the year—November through March.

Keeping Vulnerable Families Together

This project provides supportive and independent accommodations for up to 12 months to women (with or without children) who are recovering from domestic violence and substance abuse, among other issues. Women benefit from the program thanks to a social support network, skills training, job placements, and mental health counseling when necessary.


Landsong is an online storytelling and mapping application that is designed to help First Nations communities capture, preserve, and share their cultural traditions. By linking people and place, Landsong helps elders and the next generation of First Nations leaders to make better decisions about their future in the face of industrial development.

Local Peer-to-Peer Micro Lending

This micro lending and mentorship program crowdsources credit from the community for those lacking access to financial services. Local investments in startups and small businesses strengthens the local economy and creates a sense of place—lenders even get a two percent return on their investments.

OMVC Culinary Arts

OMVC Culinary arts is an innovative kitchen located on Haida Gwaii, an island off the coast of British Columbia that is challenged by diabetes and an unemployment rate of near 70 percent. Its mission is to create economic opportunities by training locals to be Red Seal-certified chefs who can provide healthy, hot lunches for two nearby elementary schools and elders in the community.

Note: Originally posted at BC Ideas.

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