Rural Change Makers

Discover 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!

The past few years have been quite difficult for many young people, but especially so for rural youth. We have learned much from our Rural Change Makers and discovered the needs of our young people have been profoundly impacted by the Pandemic, particularly youth in rural and remote regions, Indigenous youth and youth with barriers who face uniquely different experiences, opportunities and challenges. 


To bridge youth-identified gaps and serve the diverse needs, hopes and dreams of young people in rural Ontario we are re-tooling our upcoming program for 2023 and have undertaken a listening tour to hear from rural, remote and Indigenous youth in Ontario. As part of the Young Rural Resilient Project, community feedback has helped inform programming for emerging rural leaders in Ontario to wrap opportunities around their aspirations and create spaces for leadership, growth, respect, inclusion, discovery and belonging.

Learn more about the project, connect with us and stay tuned for the Young Rural Resilient Report. 


If you have any questions, please reach out to Melanie Bidiuk at

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.

Rural Change Makers

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. As a group, these leaders will 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 others.

During the program the Change Makers will organize at least three events: 

  1. A “discovery session” with local stakeholders and community members focusing on an asset-based approach and linking them with allies in their mobilization efforts;
  2. A “community action lab” or event oriented at producing an action plan towards a short-term concrete project that will be the focus of their initial steps in effecting the change they want to see in their community.
  3. Regional "RuralPOPs": temporary regional hubs for youth engagement activities & community projects promoting economic, business and community development stimulus.

Change Makers will also form regional committees to support the planning and development of regional engagement acivities and a Provincial Youth Summit.

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

Additional Resources


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