The ImpactOntario conference is taking place today over at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. It was created by MaRS particularly for the province of Ontario and complements the annual, three-year-old Social Finance Forum, which brings together most of – if not all – the practitioners from the close-knit social finance community in Canada, including the Ontario government, which funds some of MaRS’ work.
Similar to the Social Finance Forum, ImpactOntario is an event not only to convene but for social entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas and for big announcements to be made. For instance, at the Social Finance Forum in 2012, the president and CEO of RBC Bank, Gordon Nixon, announced a $1 million donation to the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing. Today at ImpactOntario, it was the Ontario government’s turn to lay down a big announcement: the province is looking for ideas for social impact bonds.
Specifically, it is collecting proposals that address challenges with housing, youth-at-risk, and employment for people with disability from now until May 2, 2014.
As it is just being announced, not much has been revealed about the initiative other than a commitment by the province to fund and develop these proposals. According to the timeline on the government website, workshops will be held in the spring to refine the ideas submitted and the “high-potential” ones will be selected in the summer for further development.
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