Rural Change Makers


Thank you to all those who applied to undertake a leadership learning journey through the 2023 Rural Change Makers Program. Applications are now closed for 2023 (re-opening again Spring 2024). 

Stay tuned to meet the next Change Makers of rural Ontario! The selection process is currently underway. Applicants will be receiving news shortly about their selection. We are honoured to be taking this journey with you and excited to meet each of you!
Please note due to the high volume of applications received we will be running a waitlist for the 2024 program. 

The Rural Change Makers program shapes emerging leaders in rural Ontario to lead community development solutions with their communities. Young leaders are critical to the future of Rural Ontario. Their community involvement is key to feeling a sense of belonging, value and relevance. Communities become stronger when youth are leading and making a difference.

The Rural Ontario Institute will select and prepare up to 36 motivated young adults, between the ages of 18-35, from across Ontario to address community identified priorities in their region. Up to 3 regional partners will be established setting the stage for local youth recruitment to the RCM program, leadership skills training and hyper-local community economic development projects. Regional partnerships have been established with the Timmins Youth Wellness Hub, Community Futures Huron and Opiikapawiin Services LP (OSLP) representing a collective of 24 northern Ontario Indigenous communities. As a group, these leaders will undertake a learning journey together, participate in a series of developmental learning labs and come together for a face-to-face experiential gatherings supporting them to take action on a challenge/opportunity they have selected in their community. Changemakers will be supported by coaches, mentors, partners and each other.

Are you interested in making a difference in your rural community?

Are you between 18 and 35 and live in rural Ontario? Do you want to be part of a network of Rural Change Makers from across the province?

If you answered yes, we invite you to apply to the 2024 Rural Change Makers program.  

Applications re-open Spring 2024. 

Program Highlights:

RCM Program Highlights

During the program the Change Makers will engage in experiential learning activities including: 

  1. 6-8 Learning Labs covering 14 foundational skills including self-development, leadership and community-economic development essential. Curriculum delivery will begin in September with 1-2 (3hr) bi-weekly until December.
  2. An Ignite Action Lab: putting learned skills into practice. Ignite is planned for January 2024 following curriculum delivery.
  3. A “Discovery Session” with local stakeholders and community members focusing on an asset-based approach and linking them with allies in their mobilization efforts. Community Discovery activities will begin in February-March 2024 following the Ignite Practicum.
  4. A “Community Action Lab” event or planning session oriented at producing an action plan towards a short-term concrete project/activity that will be the focus of change maker's initial steps in effecting the change they want to see in their community. Community Development Activities can include:
    • Regional "RuralPOP/Teaching Lodge": temporary regional hubs for youth engagement activities & community projects promoting knowledge shareing, skills building, economic, business and community development stimulus.
    • The development of a Rural Youth Summit.
    • Independent/peer group community activity
    • Partner-aligned activity

Change Makers will define their community development path in collaboration with each other, partners and community. Youth will also form regional committees to support the planning and development of regional engagement activities.

This program will help young adults gain confidence and build their networks to mobilize action with their community. The aim of the new program is to: 

  • Provide professional development for young adults
  • Build rural youth leadership capacity
  • Catalyze impactful rural development outcomes for communities and regions
  • Broaden public engagement in rural development initiatives


Thank you for participating in the Young Rural Resilient Project as part of the Rural Change Maker program!

Thank you for helping to shape ROI’s youth programming that grows the next generation of emerging leaders in rural Ontario! Learn more about the project, connect with us and discover Project Highlights in the Young Rural Resilient Summary Report. For more information contact 



Additional Resources
Regional Partners
Thank you to our regional community partners Timmins Youth Wellness Hub, Community Futures Huron  and Opiikapawiin Services LP (OSLP) representing a collective of 24 northern Ontario Indigenous communities.
Community Futures Huron logo.     Opiikapawiin Services LP Logo     Timmins Youth Wellness Hub logo.
Program Partners
Thank you to our 2023 Rural Change Makers program partners for walking with us on this leadership journey and sharing their gifts, knowledge and expertise.

Caceila Trahan and Muna Mohamed, Trillium Youth Opportunities Fund
John Kiser and Carolina Triana, Libro Credit Union and Each One Teach One
Paul Nichol and Heather Boas, Community Futures Huron
Lisa Harper, Perth-Huron United Way
Laura Calmwind, Opiikapawiin Services LP
Natasha Eck, SERA Community Ventures
Asmey Maracle, Centre for First Nations Governance
Suzie Johnson-Smith and Julie Johnson, City of Peterborough Social Services
Meredith Davis, Goodroots Consulting

Rural Change Maker Curriculum Partner logos.


Thank you to our 2023 Rural Change Makers program sponsors the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural AffairsSarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership (SLEP), Community Futures Huron and RBC Foundation. 

Rural Change Maker Donors and Sponsors Logos


Interested in applying next year? Stay informed by SUBSCRIBING TO OUR NEWSLETTER