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Alberta

Edmonton-based Apple Schools selected for LEAP’s Healthy Futures Accelerator

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Eleven Innovative Social Ventures Selected for LEAP’s Healthy Futures Accelerator  

Edmonton’s APPLE Schools is one of 3 Alberta organizations selected for LEAP’s Healthy Futures Accelerator (see full list of organizations below). An innovative school-focused health promotion initiative, Apple Schools currently enhances the lives of 21,000 students each year by improving their healthy eating, physical activity, and mental health habits. Programs offered by the organization help to reduce childhood obesity and chronic disease later in life. Its model has been proven effective through 20+ research studies over 10 years in partnership with University of Alberta School of Public Health.

With support from LEAP, APPLE Schools has a goal of reaching 62,000 student over the next five years.

“Based on our experience through the selection process, we are confident that our impact will grow with the guidance and support we receive from LEAP over the next 5 years,” said Marisa Orfei, Acting Executive Director of Apples Schools. “We are looking forward to collaborating with LEAP to support even more healthy kids in healthy schools.”

Research has shown that students in APPLE Schools have better nutrition habits, are more physically active, and are more likely to be a healthy weight than other students across Alberta. They are better learners and score higher on academic tests. These results extend to activity outside of class, and students from all socio-economic backgrounds benefit from APPLE Schools, including many vulnerable communities with high First Nations, Métis, and Inuit populations.

LEAP | Pecaut Centre for Social Impact recently announced 11 social ventures selected for Healthy Futures, an accelerator designed to scale initiatives that help Canadians to move more, sit less, eat better, and stop smoking. The aim is to prevent unhealthy behaviours contributing to chronic diseases impacting Canadians, a concerning trend that has been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the next five years, LEAP will partner with the ventures to improve the lives of over two million Canadians annually.

“While the pandemic has highlighted the importance of chronic disease prevention, significant numbers of Canadians have not yet embraced the building blocks that can lead to a lifetime of good health,” said Joan Dea, Chair of the Board with LEAP. “LEAP is excited to be collaborating with passionate leaders and their high-impact social ventures to address public health in Canada, particularly among equity- seeking communities.”

With financial contribution from Public Health Agency of Canada, LEAP will provide in-depth strategic and operational support, coaching, capacity building and funding to the selected social ventures. These ventures currently serve 600,000 Canadians annually across all provinces and territories.

Over the next five years, the goal is for the cohort to scale their combined impact to improve the lives of over two million Canadians annually.  Funding and pro bono support worth up to $10 million will be made available to the ventures, taking their needs and stages of development into account. Pro bono expertise will also be contributed by best-in- class business partners including Boston Consulting Group, EY, McCarthy Tétrault, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Offord Group and Google.org.

The numbers behind the selected Healthy Futures social ventures:

  • From May to June 2020, 7,000+ ventures were engaged through the open call for applications for Healthy Futures. More than 150 high-calibre submissions were received.
  • Over the course of four months, through a rigorous, data-driven assessment, LEAP’s staff, its Board, an investment committee, and a panel of experts identified each venture’s potential for impact and selected the top 11 applicants
  • Seven selected ventures support equity-seeking communities, including four ventures serving Indigenous communities, one venture serving Black Canadians, one venture serving youth with disabilities, and one venture serving low socio-economic status Canadians.
  • Four ventures target rural and remote communities, including:

74 First Nations communities in Saskatchewan, 15 First Nations communities in the North, 21,000 students in 75 rural schools across four provinces served annually, and 1,500+ First Nations youth across 50 communities served annually.

  • Nine ventures are female-led.
  • Five ventures are using tech-enabled interventions to scale their impact nationwide.

Selected Healthy Futures Social Ventures at a Glance:

APPLE Schools enhances the lives of 21,000 students in 75 schools annually by improving their healthy eating, physical activity, and mental health habits. Over the next five years with support from LEAP, APPLE Schools will extend its reach to 62,000 students in 200 schools.

Black Health Alliance works to improve the health and well-being of Black communities in Canada. Support from LEAP will allow Black Health Alliance to launch THRIVE, a strategic, scalable, and results-based initiative aiming to improve health and well-being outcomes in Black communities.

Challenger Baseball is an adaptive baseball program led by Jays Care Foundation for individuals living with disabilities. Together with LEAP, Jays Care Foundation will identify new pathways to scale Challenger Baseball to meet its goal of reaching 30,000 athletes annually in five years, from 8,500 today.

Fresh Routes Mobile Grocery Stores bring healthy, fresh, and affordable food into neighbourhoods facing barriers — allowing choice, maintaining dignity, and building community. Fresh Routes operates out of Alberta, serving 2,000 Canadians every month. LEAP will enable its expansion over the next five years, growing the number of routes and extending its reach into Manitoba.

Green Iglu’s integrated, community-focused approach promotes food sovereignty across Canada through educational programming that enables remote communities to grow nutritious food. LEAP will support Green Iglu’s scaling plans to deepen its impact and broaden its reach across more communities in Canada.

iamYiam is an award-winning preventive health partner which empowers people and organizations to take charge of their health. iamYiam currently serves 100,000+ users in 26 countries. Through its partnership with LEAP, iamYiam will establish a foundation in Canada to reach marginalized population groups.

Indigenous Youth Mentorship Program is a relationship-based, mentor-led healthy living afterschool program delivered by Indigenous adolescents for children in their community. In partnership with LEAP, Indigenous Youth Mentorship Program will enhance the breadth of its programming in the existing 50 communities where it currently operates, and expand to 100+ communities in the next five years

MyHeart Counts Canada is an AI-driven mobile application in development within McGill University Health Centre, which will provide real-time feedback and support to individuals that improve physical activity, using behavioral strategies based on unique needs. LEAP’s support will allow MyHeart Counts Canada to bring emerging technology to marginalized populations and reach 100,000 Canadians.

Second Harvest is Canada’s largest food rescue charity with a dual mission of hunger relief and environmental protection. With LEAP’s support, Second Harvest will expand its web-based application to improve efficiencies, develop a national infrastructure program to reach more rural communities, and renovate a new facility to support the volume of food rescued.

Smoking Treatment Optimization Program (STOP) provides quit smoking treatment to 24,000 people each year across Ontario. STOP has an ambitious goal to grow nationally and expand its reach from 270,000 people treated so far to two million Canadians who smoke, and in partnership with LEAP, will identify a sustainable growth model to achieve these goals.

Youth4Change is a proposed advocacy and education initiative targeting youth and young adults to reduce smoking rates within First Nations communities. Strategic guidance and funding from LEAP will allow Youth4Change to define and develop tools to support programming in 74 Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan.

“Investing in community-based interventions is vital to the health of every Canadian, and that is truer than ever before due to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Joe Manget, Board Lead, Healthy Futures at LEAP. “We have ambitious goals for this cohort of social ventures and are excited to see the social ventures grow and scale their impact over the next 5 years.

“We are thrilled to have been selected for Healthy Futures,” said Dr. Kate Storey – Associate Professor, School of Public Health & Stollery Science Lab Distinguished Researcher. “We feel this opportunity will allow the Indigenous Youth Mentorship Program team to reach even more Indigenous children, youth, families, and communities. We are very much looking forward to working with LEAP, and grateful to be part of the LEAP community.”

About LEAP | Pecaut Centre for Social Impact

LEAP | Pecaut Centre for Social Impact (LEAP) believes in a society where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential. We catalyze large scale social impact by selecting, supporting and scaling breakthrough social ventures and unleashing the potential of collaboration. We achieve collective impact by working across issue focused cohorts and with our sector partners, all business leaders in their respective industries: Boston Consulting Group, EY LLP, McCarthy Tétrault LLP, the Offord Group, Hill+Knowlton Strategies Canada, and Google.org. To date, over 750,000 Canadians have been reached in every province and territory. Learn more at leap-pecautcentre.ca.

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Alberta

Alberta inquiry finds no wrongdoing in anti-oilsands campaign despite foreign funds

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EDMONTON — Canadian environmental groups did nothing wrong when they accepted foreign funding for campaigns opposing oilsands development, a public inquiry has reported.

In his much-delayed report released Thursday, Steve Allan, commissioner of the Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns, says the groups were exercising their rights to free speech.

“I have not found any suggestions of wrongdoing on the part of any individual or organization,” Allan writes. 

“No individual or organization, in my view, has done anything illegal. Indeed, they have exercised their rights of free speech.”

Allan also says the campaigns have not spread misinformation.

While he finds that at least $1.28 billion has flowed into Canadian environmental charities from the U.S. between 2003 and 2019, only a small portion of that has been directed against the oilsands. Auditors Deloitte Forensic Inc. estimate that money at between $37.5 million and $58.9 million over that period. That averages to $3.5 million a year at most.

Alberta’s United Conservative government funds its so-called “war room,” an arm’s-length agency instituted to counter environmental groups, at up to $30 million a year.

The report also finds that what it calls conservative/market-oriented charities that worked in support of the oilsands received at least $26.7 million from foreign sources. 

Allan recommends a series of reforms to improve transparency in the charitable sector. He says charities should be subject to the same standards of disclosure as private corporations. 

He also calls for an industry-led campaign to rebrand Canadian energy.

“Industry associations, governments, and the industry itself have failed to counter (environmental groups’) efforts, such that the public has not had ready access to complete, reliable and balanced information,” Allan writes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2021

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

PropTech is making it easier to buy or sell a house online

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CALGARY — Kim and Dave Bailey knew they wanted to build their new home on a lot that would accommodate a three-car garage.

But finding the right location meant repeatedly taking time out of their day to visit sales offices, only to find out what they wanted wasn’t even a possibility.

“We must have visited seven or eight homebuilders in the community,” said Dave. “We’d have a conversation and then ask, ‘can you accommodate a three-car garage?’ They’d say ‘nope,” and so it was like, ‘OK, I guess we wasted our time.’ “

After one too many unsatisfying experiences, the Baileys stumbled upon Ownly, an online shopping tool for the new home market launched last year by a pair of Calgary entrepreneurs and now available on several Calgary homebuilder websites. Using Ownly, the couple were able to browse prospective communities and floor plans and figure out which home designs fit on which lots.

While the advent of e-commerce and mobile technology long ago changed the way Canadians shop for everything from clothing to vacations to food, the real estate industry has been slower to embrace digital innovation. For most people, buying a house remains a cumbersome, time-consuming process that involves multiple in-person visits with agents, lawyers and bankers.

But that’s beginning to change, with a growing number of homebuilders, real estate brokerages and financial institutions offering digital solutions aimed at modernizing the buying and selling process.

The Baileys also used Ownly to play around with different upgrade packages and get a ballpark price quote. By the time they actually set foot in the sales office of the builder from whom they ultimately bought their Calgary dream home, they knew exactly what they wanted and had a good sense of what it was going to cost.

“Building a new home is a huge financial decision,” said Kim. “So being able to look at everything before you go out, and being able to tell if this is even feasible for you, it reduces some of that disappointment.”

Abdullah Snobar, executive director of The DMZ business incubator at Ryerson University, says the economy is undergoing a major transformation as people become increasingly digitally savvy.

“Startups are definitely thriving in this space and we’re beginning to see the industry really find its footing around it,” he said.

Most homebuyers are familiar with commonplace digital real estate tools like web-based listings, virtual tours and online mortgage calculators. But tech innovators are now partnering with real estate companies to offer everything from digital sales offices to artificial-intelligence enabled search tools to virtual-reality-led property tours.

Advocates say taking advantage of PropTech — a term that refers to the use of technology in the real estate space — can offer a host of benefits to buyers and sellers. Whether it’s the minimizing of face-to-face contact during the COVID-19 pandemic, or the convenience of being able to shop on your own schedule, the use of digital solutions can remove some of the headaches from a real estate search.

The use of PropTech can also be a money-saver. Because the Baileys weren’t walking blindly into the sales office, they felt more confident about their ability to choose the model and upgrades that worked within their budget.

“Our salesperson didn’t have to upsell us at all. Anything that we upgraded came directly from us, not from them,” Kim said.

While PropTech has made some significant strides when it comes to disrupting the traditional real estate market, experts say it’s not yet possible in Canada to complete all the steps in the home-buying process — from offer to financing to closure of the deal — online.

But Fred Cassano, partner and national real estate tax leader with PwC Canada, said a number of PropTech companies will likely offer such tools in the near future.

“I think we’re much closer than people realize to being able to complete the entire process online,” Cassano said. “I don’t think we’re too far away from seeing that, which is transacting digitally from start to finish.”

In fact, Ownly says that within the next year, it hopes to expand its own platform to provide a complete end-to-end new home-buying service online.

Melanie Gowans, general manager of sales and marketing at Calgary’s Shane Homes — one of the builders that has been using the Ownly tool — said her company is ready for it.

“We would never replace the service we’re offering now. There are going to people who aren’t comfortable doing the whole sale online. But I want to make it available to those who are comfortable,” Gowans said.

“We (the home building industry) are one of the last industries to have everything online,” she added. “But if you think about back when you first started being able to buy clothes online, that seemed really weird too . . . So I think we are getting there, and we’re only going to get better at it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2021.

Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press

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