As we look towards rebuilding beyond COVID-19, we can’t ignore the disproportionate impact that disruption has inflicted on already-underserved communities in our region. That’s exactly why collaborative, equitable solutions enabled by technology were the focus of the second and final Recovery & Rebuilding the Region Design Challenge.

With collaboration at the centre of Design Challenge Two: Rebuilding, TechAlliance, Libro Credit Union and Pillar Nonprofit Network, alongside co-presenters WEtech Alliance and Communitech, opened the door to new, inclusive and disruptive approaches to economic recovery and community prosperity.

Today, we are pleased to announce that two solutions have been chosen to receive funding and a suite of personalized business advisory, financial coaching and community impact services.

Nonprofit organization Beecuz will receive $20,000 of seed funding to accelerate their innovative, skill-based workshops and educational curricula to enable youth with the tools they need to proactively address and care for their mental health.

Founder and Director, Lena Schreyer, says that with the funding and guidance they’ll receive, they intend to take their classroom model online in pursuit of increasing accessibility to mental health programming beyond Kitchener-Waterloo and London.

In addition, news about Design Challenge One: Recovery sparked interest from a private donor who contributed $5,000 to the Design Challenge.

The partnering organizations have awarded this funding to The Working Centre, a community-focused nonprofit organization in Downtown Kitchener that has been responding to unemployment and poverty since 1982. Their new collaborative initiative with other community groups, Project 4000, leverages tech innovations in agriculture including IoT monitoring systems to tackle food accessibility.

When we envision the next steps for Southwestern Ontario, we see passionate innovators collectively leading the charge of the rebuilding process. To receive diverse responses to Design Challenge Two that address inequities deepened by changes in the world indicates that many do not want to return to “usual”, and the innovative solutions on the horizon are more promising than ever before.

Christina Fox, CEO, TechAlliance

It’s emerging female founders like Lena who make us confident in a future where mental health services are made accessible through digitization, an essential component to the Future of Learning. We are also inspired by Joe, whose IoT technology-enabled food accessibility project supports community prosperity. Making an investment in these two initiatives catalyzes change that will span generations.