Rural Change Makers Program

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 subscribe to our ENewsletter to be notified when recruitment begins for the 2023 Rural Change Maker program. 

Nominate the Change Maker in your community to be a part of ROI's 2023 Rural Change Makers program by filling out our nomination form below.


If you have any questions reach out to Melanie Bidiuk at

Program Background

The Rural Ontario Institute will select and prepare up to 36 motivated young adults, between the ages of 18-35, from rural Ontario to address community identified priorities in their region. As a group, these emerging leaders will participate in a series of developmental learning labs and come together for face-to-face experiential gatherings supporting them to take action on a challenge/opportunity that 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.

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


2022 Rural Change Makers Curriculum Overview (January 2022 to August 2022) 


Activity Description


Saturday, January 15th, 2022

9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Welcome Session – Virtual Only

· RCM cohort 2021, what’s my story 


 What is Rural Community Building? 

· Coming together to make good things happen 

· Introduction of the community engagement logic model

January 26th 2022 at 7:00 pm

What information is necessary? 

· Tools for Community Leadership

February 9th 2022 at 7:00 pm

Who can help? 

· Mobilizing your community

February 23rd 2022 

at 7:00 pm

What is possible? 

· Defining the issue and possible outcomes 

· How to be a good mentor

March 9th 2022 at 7:00 pm

What is your plan? 

· Sharing your Community Development Approach · Getting ready for the Ignite Workshop 

Weekend of Mar 25th- 26th 2022

Ignite Workshop (2-days) for Change Makers 

· Putting theory into practice 

· Build your Discovery session plan

April 6th 2022 at 7:00 pm

Engaging your Community – Coaching Session 

· Initiating your Discovery session

April 20th 2022 at 7:00 pm

Are we making a difference? 

· Measuring impact: evaluation techniques 

May 4th 2022 at 7:00 pm

Action Lab – Sharing your Discovery session 

· Projects prioritized/initiated in communities

June 1st 2022 at 7:00 pm 

Report Back – Sharing your success  

· Storytelling and Impact, capturing the action of communities

TBD, August 2022

Celebration event, stories and projects shared


By applying to this initiative you acknowledge that:

  • you agree to participate in a secure online networking platform with other Rural Change Makers;

  • you will attend the two-day getting started and network seminar (in-person/virtual options) with other Rural Change Makers;

  • you will complete pre-session reading and information collection to be able to actively participate in webinars;

  • you agree to attend and complete the learning labs in the Rural Change Makers program;

  • you will attend the two-day Ignite practice seminar (in-person/virtual options) with other Rural Change Makers, and

  • you will work within your community to identify a key priority and mobilize others to address this priority.

In return you will receive:

  • Access to all learning and development opportunities both online and in-person;

  • Certification in Rural Community Building Essentials  upon successful completion of the project; 

  • a resource network of change-makers and supporters, and

  • an extraordinary opportunity to become a leader within your own community!