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Stephanie Pinnington

Welcoming three new staff members to the Tapestry Team

By News

We are thrilled to welcome three new team members to Tapestry! As our team grows, so too does our breath and depth of expertise. Marzie Aghdaee, Suzanne Faiza and Baljmaa Zorig are helping us to expand the reach of the community bond model through research and innovation in the affordable housing and clean energy arenas. 

Meet our new team members below!

 

Marzie Aghdaee, Senior Researcher, Affordable Housing

Marzie describes herself as a jack of all trades, with a career path that led her from cell biology to civic tech, youth empowerment, political engagement and education. The constant throughout her career has been her deep interest in, and passion for, systems thinking and people-centered research design. She has spent the vast majority of her career working with nonprofits, first with rural and marginalized communities in Iran, and more recently in Peru and Canada. For the past 8 years, she has focused on mix-method research, and measurement and evaluation. 

Marzie has joined our team to design and lead an in-depth stakeholder engagement with affordable housing providers, supporters and activators, as part of Tapestry’s participation in the CMHC Housing Supply Challenge. Marzie brings a personal lens to this work. “Being an immigrant to Canada, and coming from a low-income background, I understand the anxiety of finding affordable housing. Affordable housing is one of, if not the greatest, challenges faced by our country today,” she shares. 

 

Suzanne Faiza, Researcher

Suzanne is currently pursuing her Masters in Planning at the University of Toronto, with a concentration in Housing and Community Economic Development. The focus of her research is to assess the feasibility of crowdfunding platforms to facilitate land acquisition groups such as community land trusts. Suzanne is joining our team in a part-time capacity while she completes her studies and is working with Marzie and support our progress in the CMHC Housing Supply Challenge.

Suzanne is trained as an architect, and worked in the field for 6 years before beginning her Masters program. She brings a new element of creativity to our team, with excellent graphic design skills and a love of finding ways to display complex information in easily digestible formats. She is an active volunteer in her community, working closely with the Muslim Food Bank & Community Services, COVID-19 Coming Together Vancouver, and the B.C. Community Alliance, and is passionate about finding innovative solutions to Canada’s affordable housing crisis. 

 

Baljmaa Zorig, Climate Finance Specialist

Baljmaa’s interest in climate change mitigation began early in her career while she was working as an internal auditor at a commercial bank in Mongolia. Her role took her to remote regions of the country where she could see the impacts that climate change was having on local people and businesses, from drought to extreme heat waves. 

With a strong desire to build a more technical skillset, she pursued her Masters in Quantitative Finance at Bentley University as a Fulbright Scholar. During her graduate studies she helped to establish and manage an ESG strategy for the university’s endowment fund, gaining valuable experience in capital markets. She then went on to work with a boutique ESG investment firm in Boston, and later with two international development financing organizations.

Baljmaa joins the Tapestry team to support a new project we are undertaking with a municipality in Eastern Canada to design and implement an investment system to finance their community energy ambitions. Baljmaa loves big data, financial modeling and finding creative financing solutions. “We don’t need fancy solutions, we need practical solutions,” she shares. “As an ESG professional, creating a circular economy is the goal. I think community bonds offer a double win of raising impact capital while also sending profits back into the community.” 

It’s tax season and we’re here to help

By Education, News

It’s that time of year again. That’s right – it’s tax season. 

For issuers of community bonds, this means it’s time to report the investment earnings of their investors to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Revenu Québec, and to provide investors with the necessary paperwork to file their income taxes. 

For issuers working with Tapestry, this process is a simple and straightforward one. Our clients need only email their investors to inform them that the tax slips are en route, and we take care of the rest! 

At Tapestry, our investment management software, Atticus, is the real hero of the season. Not only does Atticus securely store investor data and calculate interest disbursements, but it also generates reports that hold the information required for T5 and RL-3 tax slips. 

Tapestry generates these slips and ensures they are sent to investors before the required deadline. 

“Data management tools like spreadsheets are prone to human error,” explains our Impact Investment Manager, Theodora Mladenova. “Not to mention, it isn’t a safe way to store investor’s sensitive information. It is possible for issuers to manage this work on their own, but we save them a whole lot of hassle and reduce these risks.” 

Satyameet SinghBeyond tools such as Atticus, which streamline this process for tax reporting, Tapestry also builds on 20 years of experience in the field. “Ultimately, this knowledge saves our clients time and money, so that they can focus on what they are good at – growing their positive impact within their communities.”  

Our seasoned Campaign Manager, Satyameet Singh, also reminds us that this is an opportune time of year for issuers of community bonds to have a touch point with their investors. “Taxes may be a bit boring but your project certainly isn’t! This is a great time to provide an update to investors on your project and show them how their funds are being put to use,” he explains. “Investors really appreciate this communication, and it helps to build a deep and trusting relationship. We always recommend that our clients take advantage of this opportunity to reconnect with their investors.”

New choices, new values and impact investing

By News

Last week, our Co-Executive Director, Ryan Collins-Swartz, had the pleasure of joining Tim Nash on the Toronto Star podcast Responsible Investing for a Sustainable Economy

Host Tim Nash is the founder of Good Investing and has been a leader in responsible investing and the green economy for more than a decade. 

In this episode, the topic of discussion is impact investing – a strategy that seeks to generate financial returns while also creating a positive social or environmental impact.

 

Are you interested in investing with impact or raising investment from your community for an impactful project? Delve into the the recording and transcript of Ryan and Tim’s conversation on the world of Community Bonds.

 

Tim: Today I am with Ryan-Collins Swartz, Co-Executive Director of Tapestry Community Capital. Ryan, thanks so much for joining me.

Ryan: Great to be here Tim.

Tim: Now, you’ve been in the impact investment space for a little while now, how did you first get involved in this ecosystem?

Ryan: It’s been a long road Tim. I would say, looking back to when I was in school, my first real job was working at a residential real estate investment trust. At that point, I was amazed by how big capital could be put to use – in this case, for apartment buildings. 

Then I discovered social enterprise while at Ivey Business school. I learnt that non-profits can create side activities that are revenue generating, that can allow them to operate more sustainably. Afterwards, I became involved in different non-profits – I did a research project with the Toronto Public Library, a fellowship at the Mars discovery district here in Toronto, and worked with several social service agencies. 

I started to see two clear perspectives. First, going back to that real estate investment trust, I saw how capital is mobilized and how investments are made, but I also saw the reality for a lot of organizations searching for funding. And there are a lot of barriers there – especially for non-profits, charities and different social enterprises. 

I became introduced to the community bond model because I was a member of the Centre for Social Innovation. Then I was reached out to by the Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC), who had for the past 20 years been raising impact investment for local renewable energy projects. Their first example, that a lot of people know of, is the wind turbine down at exhibition place, which is half owned by Toronto Hydro and half owned by 500 community investors. 

What I learnt was that a lot of organizations were starting to duplicate this model. The Centre for Social Innovation was one, and several other co-working spaces did it, but there wasn’t a lot of support or an easy solution for other organizations that wanted to raise this type of impact investment. So, I joined TREC and about 6 months later we launched Tapestry Community Capital, as an organization that provides end-to-end support to both raise and manage impact investments.

Tim: I love it. So basically, your job is doing these social finance campaigns. Finding non-profits that want to raise money, who probably have an asset they need that money for, and then raising a successful campaign so that they can buy that asset. As part of your job, you often meet with non-profits who are thinking about raising capital. How do they initially feel about doing this?

Ryan: I think the first emotion for a lot of them is excitement. They might come with a lot of frustration about the existing ways that they can raise funding for their organization. So for example, donation campaigns can be difficult, donors can be tapped out depending on the community, they are also a more old-fashioned way of raising a lot of money from a small group of wealthy individuals. Secondly, they could have had difficulty working with financial institutions and banks. And then, they might also be very grant dependent. 

Grants are difficult – although you don’t have to pay them back, you also don’t have a lot of choice once you receive them or if you receive them. There can be a lot of limitations on what you can spend the funds on. So a lot of organizations get really excited about raising funds in this new way, because with community bonds they get to set the terms (i.e. decide the rate of return, maturity, etc.).

Tim: I often joke that for a lot of non-profits, debt is a four-letter word that they are just not used to dealing with. What do you think really needs to click with them psychologically before they are really ready to move forward?

Ryan: I think really understanding how this all works, learning from the stories of other organizations who have done this before, and feeling confident that Tapestry is here to support them every step of the way. There is definitely excitement as the first emotion, but then they may also feel apprehension – the, “oh my god, are we really going to do this?”

For some organizations that have a longer track record with fundraising, they might be concerned that if they are offering people the opportunity to invest (i.e. make a return and also get their money back), why would someone make a donation? So I think there is also a realization that, no, this isn’t cannibalizing your donor base. This is a chance to engage a whole new community of people who might not be making large donations into capital campaigns, but like me, have a small pool of money they want to put to work locally to make an impact. 

Tim: You talk about investors that do want to earn a financial return, but they also want to feel good about their investment. So tell me, what role does story-telling play in an impact investment campaign? 

Ryan: Storytelling is vital. When we think of an impact investment, it’s really about understanding what the impact of this project is and who it is impacting, down to an individual level or environmental level, and getting that message out. This is where a community bond investment varies from the rest of the investments in your portfolio. This is likely the only investment where you can actually see, feel, touch, visit, and know where your money has gone. So yes, it’s vital. 

But I would say Tim, it’s not on its own what’s going to close the deal. So maybe that’s where impact investing and traditional fundraising shares a lot in common in the value of storytelling. But the separation is that the story will get someone in the door, but then they need to understand the business model, the repayment strategy, and have confidence in the team that this is a fair and wise investment.

Tim: Yes, I think confidence plays a huge role. This is a bit of a new thing to both non-profits, who might be raising capital for the first time, but also for the investors that are often making these types of impact investment for the first time. Having that transparency and being on the same page is key. Understanding that risk return, just like we do for any other investment, and really having that information allows us to make confident investments – both from a financial standpoint but also from that impact standpoint. People do want to make sure that their investments are having an impact. Do you agree with that?

Ryan: The first, and exciting thing, is that this is new for everyone. Anytime I meet with an organization thinking about issuing an impact investment, it’s the first time that their staff and their Board is learning about it. And likewise, when they go out to their community of investors, it’s the first time that that community is learning about investing in community bonds. It’s still very nascent and new. I was reflecting back to a few years ago when we could all be in person at the Social Finance Forum at Mars, when you were moderating a session on impact investing and you asked the panellists and the crowd “how many of you have made an impact investment, raise your hand?”. Do you remember what the response was like?

Tim: It wasn’t a huge number of people in the room.

Ryan: So even in the “in group” of people who know about impact investing, they aren’t that personally involved with making these types of investments. That’s changed a lot over the past few years due to the availability of more products, but I’m excited to see the space of impact investing grow from everyone involved to friends and families, to colleagues and institutions, and outwards from there. 

Tim: I think it’s cool that when I deal with clients, it’s often the first time they make an impact investment. That first time is often the toughest decision they make, and then after they do it, the experiential learning kicks in, such that once they’ve made one investment they tend to be a lot more open and receptive to other impact investments on the market. 

Are there any impact investments of organizations that you are working with now that you can share with us? 

Ryan: One that I’m really excited about is Earth Day Canada (Jour de la Terre) based in Quebec. They are developing Canada’s first non-profit, community owned, electric vehicle charging network. This project, called EcoCharge, is starting with 100 charging stations across Quebec and New Brunswick and is going to be scaling across Canada. Anyone across Canada is able to invest as little as $1000 and make 3.5% a year on a 5-year bond. That’s one that I’m really excited about. (To learn more about the EcoCharge investment opportunity, visit the Earth Day Canada website here)

Tim: Same. I don’t own an electric vehicle but when I talk to people that do, they often worry about this idea of range anxiety, and not being able to take a road trip. So, I love this idea of being able to finance charging stations. I think it’s along the trans-Canada highway and they’ve partnered with grocery stores, such that when you are along the highway, you don’t really have to worry about it – there will be somewhere to charge your car. You can go in, have a little bite and take a break on the roadtrip that you’d want to take anyway.

This is a great opportunity where investors can put up some of that upfront capital, earn an interest rate on that community green bond and hopefully have that network of charging stations across the country. 

Thanks for joining us Ryan! 

For those that are interested in learning more about impact investing, check out Tim’s Good Investing online Course here.

Calling all affordable housing providers!

By News

There is a critical need for flexible sources of financing that can be designed to meet the budgets and timelines of affordable housing providers. At the same time, there is a need for greater, and more meaningful participation of communities in affordable housing projects. 

Tapestry Community Capital is leading the development of a social finance program, specifically designed to meet these complex needs of affordable housing providers. 

Tapestry has been shortlisted by the CMHC Housing Supply Challenge program to work on this idea. We are recruiting non-profit and co-operative housing providers from across Canada that are interested in the use of community bonds to help inform the design of the program. 

We are offering:

  • Coaching to your team and Board to understand how community bonds could be used by your organization 
  • An assessment of your project financing and viability to utilize community bonds to unlock private capital within your community 
  • Preferential participation in the implemented program, which may involve financial support to launch a community bond campaign 

To find more details, click here

If you are interested in this idea or want to know more, please contact info@tapestrycapital.ca.

About Tapestry Community Capital

Tapestry is a non-profit organization that supports social purpose organizations across Canada to raise impact investments using a social finance tool, called a Community Bond.

We have developed a straightforward process that allows organizations to efficiently use community bonds to achieve their funding goals within 8-12 months. We help them to structure their investment offering, take their product to the community to raise investment, and professionally manage their investors.

In the past 8 years, we have supported in raising over $90 million in community investment from more than 4,000+ investors. This capital has been deployed by our non-profit and co-op clients to develop a range of essential community assets, including those in renewable energy, arts & culture, and education. 

We hope to connect with you!

Tapestry is hiring a Senior Researcher

By News

Tapestry is catalyzing a vibrant community investment marketplace to finance iconic community projects. We work with a wide range of partners to help them tap into their network of supporters, raise investment, and grow their impact.

To date, we have helped to raise $80 million in community financing to fund 59 projects across Canada. Each of these projects strives to make our country a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient place.

We have recently undertaken two new research projects in the fields of affordable housing and community energy. Both require that we dig deep into the existing literature on the use of social finance tools in these sectors, engage stakeholders, and ask important questions about where challenges exist.

This is why we are hiring a Senior Researcher to join our team. We are looking for someone energetic, dedicated and resourceful, who can be responsible for the project management of these two portfolios. They will spend the majority of their time engaging a wide range of stakeholders to uncover barriers and opportunities, and work with the Tapestry team to conceptualize solutions.

The individual selected will be hired on as a fulltime consultant for a duration of six months, however, there may be a longer term opportunity available at the end of this period. In recognition of differing situations and availability, we are also open to considering a reduced time commitment with a focus on one of the two projects.

To learn more about this option, the details of the projects, and what we are looking for, please read the full job description here. Please note that the application deadline has been extended to Feb. 22, 2022.

So, why should you be interested in working with Tapestry?

1. We are an innovative and growing social enterprise, working in a rapidly expanding sector. Now more than ever, people are interested in investing their money not only to make a fair return, but to also have a positive impact. At the same time, growing demands on the social purpose sector are pressing organizations to think more creatively about financing solutions. We are contributing to the creation of a vibrant marketplace where impact investments can flow directly to community-based organizations that are addressing local needs.

2. We are working hard to address some of Canada’s greatest challenges. We offer you the chance to be involved in finding and implementing realistic solutions. Our organization was involved in one of Canada’s first community-financed and community-owned renewable energy projects over 20 years ago. We are continually building on our knowledge and experience to evolve our process and harness of the power of community.

3. We believe in work/life balance and take pride in our office culture. Our office supports 100% remote working and offers flexible hours to meet your needs. Our team members come from a wide range of backgrounds including marketing, banking, social services, music production, real estate, and policy. We value diverse perspectives and know that our team is our greatest strength.

Tapestry Community Capital is fully committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We value contributions from our employees coming from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences. We welcome applications from all people, especially equity-seeking groups, racialized people, women, people with disabilities, members of sexual minority groups, and any others with a non-binary or traditional background who may be interested in the position. If you have questions or require special arrangements, please let us know via email at careers@tapestrycapital.ca.

We look forward to hearing from you, and to growing our tapestry!

Tapestry receives incubation funding for CMHC Housing Supply Challenge

By News

The Housing Supply Challenge, led by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), is an innovative competition that encourages residents, stakeholders and experts from across the country to propose creative solutions to housing. The goal: to help meet Canada’s pressing need for safe and affordable homes by breaking down barriers to the creation of new supply. The Challenge will distribute $300 million in funding over five years through various unique rounds. 

We are excited to announce that Tapestry Community Capital has been accepted into Round 2 of the program, Getting Started, which seeks to find solutions to pre-development challenges. 

CMHC received a total of 167 submissions that all demonstrated great potential impacts. Tapestry’s application is one of 29 that has been shortlisted and provided with incubation funding to further develop a concrete and implementable solution. Stage 2 of this round will make up to $38 million dollars available to successful applicants to implement their solutions.

Our solution seeks to solve two very complex challenges. 

Non-profit affordable housing providers have a dire need for a flexible source of financing that can be designed on their terms, to meet their desired timelines. Simultaneously, there is a critical need for greater, and more meaningful participation of communities surrounding affordable housing developments. Affordable housing providers require innovative avenues for participation that will help to shift perceptions and build community support.

“There is immense pressure to fill the void in affordable housing stock and community-based organizations are urgently looking for solutions to fill their funding gaps and speed up the process of securing financing,” says Tapestry Co-Executive Director, Ryan Collins-Swartz. “At the same, we have seen that NIMBYism in these regions can slow development or even stop projects from getting off the ground. The result is that many housing projects never succeed, or are not scaled to their full potential, because of a lack of financing and community support.” 

Community bonds allow organizations to set their own financing terms and raise funds on a predictable timeline. While unlocking private capital, they also build a powerful sense of community ownership. Residents, neighbours, and local businesses alike can all invest to improve their community, while earning a fair return. 

Community bonds have been used to finance several affordable housing developments across Canada, including The Mount in Peterborough, Ontario and Brique par Brique in Montreal, Quebec. While affordable housing projects in Canada have raised a total of $3 million in community bonds to date, one single inclusive housing provider in the UK, Golden Lane Housing, has used this model to raise the equivalent of $26 million CAD. There is huge potential for non-profit housing providers to unlock capital on this scale to develop more affordable housing. 

Building on our extensive experience of engaging communities to fund locally impactful projects, we seek to apply this knowledge to the affordable housing sector as a flexible and scalable source of financing. Our solution adapts our proven process for raising community bonds to meet the complex funding needs of affordable housing providers. 

Be part of the solution

We will be designing this program through a highly collaborative process involving a diverse range of stakeholders that provide, fund, or are personally impacted by affordable housing. 

As part of our discovery phase, we will be looking to speak to a multitude of stakeholders affected by affordable housing financing, including non-profit housing providers, financers and community members. 

Please get in touch with us at info@tapestrycapital.ca if you or an organization you know might be interested in this consultation. 

Learn more about our project, and the projects of other applicants, here.

 

*Please note the ’Financing affordable housing with the power of community’ project received Incubation Funding under the Housing Supply Challenge – Getting Started Round, however, the views expressed are the personal views of the author and CMHC accepts no responsibility for them.

Meet our new Board Members

By News

As we approach the end of an exciting year, we are pleased to share that three new individuals have joined Tapestry’s Board of Directors. Their voices will support our evolution as we navigate the future; engage in new dynamic ways with non-profits, charities and co-ops across Canada; and continue to deepen and integrate our efforts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in our organization and beyond.

As leaders in their respective fields, we are thrilled to have the unique expertise of Homaira Siddiqui, James Chan and Mritunjay Sinha to help guide our growing organization. Each of them brings a wealth of experience to strengthen our organization, with vast skills in finance, technology, social enterprise, and policy. Their addition to the Board will help to further position Tapestry as a critical leader in social finance in Canada. 

Our new board members have shared some of their motivations and hopes for their time with Tapestry below – we look forward to growing with them in the time to come.

Mritunjay (MJ) Sinha

A social entrepreneur-operator and an investor, MJ helped build a multi-million-dollar micro-loan portfolio in rural India and a co-operative that served over 200 women entrepreneurs. Through his advisory firm, he has helped deploy over C$150M through private-market impact investing, and another C$250M through responsible investment strategies for family offices and foundations, including the Hamilton Community Foundation, the Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation, and the Upper Canada Equity Fund. MJ is Treasurer for Computers for Success Canada, a Board Director for The Helderleigh Foundation and Philanthropic Foundations Canada, and sits on the Impact Investment Committee for the Laidlaw Foundation and the Investment Advisory Committee for the Foundation for Black Communities. MJ’s passion for social change is complemented by his experience in capital markets, corporate strategy, and global health, and his degrees in Computer Engineering and M.B.A.

“I  have been deeply passionate about the intersection of positive social change and financial returns for more than a decade now, even before I knew what impact investing was. I’ve admired the work that Tapestry Community Capital has done for the last many years helping structure impact investment products (such as community bonds), making them market ready, and assisting both investors and investees in looking at capitalism differently. So, it isn’t surprising that I am very excited to have been appointed to their Board. I look forward to working together with an amazing Board and team, and helping make capitalism a little more fair, just, and equitable.”

Homaira Siddiqui

Homaira seeks to find more sustainable and equitable ways in which energy can be generated, distributed, stored, and conserved. She is particularly interested in the intersection between energy and equity, and the ways in which distributed and aggregated energy projects can bolster community resilience. Homaira began her career in a technical role re-engineering the very first plastic known as the Bakelite resin by repurposing biomass from a pulping waste stream. Her engineering career has since traversed advocacy and policy, holding roles with Engineers Without Borders and the International Renewable Energy Agency. Her experience in the energy sector spans over five years covering markets across North America, where she has supported diverse clients to navigate pathways towards a distributed, low-carbon, and resilient energy future. Homaira is also an Advisory Committee member of Women In Renewable Energy (WiRE), where she serves to offer passionate women in the energy sector a meeting point and a catalyst for forming highly engaging and supportive relationships. 

“I first came across the concept of a cooperative many years back with news of some of the earliest renewable cooperative pilots in Germany and Denmark. I remember being intrigued by this alternative – and what seemed ‘novel’ to me at the time –  an investment model of pooling resources to meet an essential communal need. As an energy geek, I am fascinated by the parallels that can be drawn between decentralization of the grid and localization of economies. I am particularly interested in identifying and countering barriers to participation in alternative models that continue to favour elements of traditional top-down structures and do not recognize the diversity of local potential and needs. I am thrilled to have been appointed to the Board of TREC/Tapestry, a powerhouse of social innovation that has 20+ years of experience in raising community investment. It is an honour to have a chance to work with some of the most brilliant and passionate folks at TREC/Tapestry to facilitate and support resilient and inclusive investment models for community-led, socio-economic driven projects.”

James Chan

James works with people, places, and partnerships to foster civic participation, promote equitable urbanism, and grow the social economy. He is currently the Manager of VERGE Capital at Pillar Nonprofit Network, and serves on the Board of Directors for Inspirit Foundation. James is a past member of London Community Foundation’s social finance committee, was a co-founder of Ottawa Civic Tech, and served on the Board of Directors at Code for Canada, Park People, and The Centre for Active Transportation.

 

“TREC has been at the forefront of social innovation and social finance long before those terms were popularized. The idea that led to its creation over two decades ago is more relevant and important than ever –  bringing communities together to address big challenges like climate change through shared risk-taking, financing, and ownership. Through TREC’s latest social enterprise Tapestry Community Capital, that same innovative and cooperative spirit is making it possible for communities to build and invest in a wide range of local initiatives such as affordable housing, arts & culture spaces, and community hubs. I am proud to join the Board of TREC and support its mission of bringing these projects to life through the power of community capital.”

 

Our new Board Members will provide diverse views and expertise that will further our collective work at Tapestry. Please join us in welcoming our newly elected Members!

Trillium Waldorf School launches Bond Campaign

By Client Stories

In 1996, a group of parents based in Guelph, Ontario came together with a vision for a different type of school. One which would nurture their children, teach to their developmental needs, and inspire a lifelong love of learning through the Waldorf Education philosophy. 

And so the first Waldorf school in the Tri-cities area was born. Initially opening their doors to 21 children in a local church building, the school has since grown to over 20 faculty and staff, and 175 students from grade one to eight. 

In 2005, the school relocated for its third time to a beautiful 3 acre property next to the Guelph Lake Conservation Area. It was everything they needed, with nature abound and space to grow. 

In early 2021, an opportunity arose to purchase the property from longtime supporters, Christine Golec and Mark Carragher. For Trillium, this meant the opportunity to avoid future rent increases, save on property taxes, and therefore become more financially sustainable and stable. Owning the property also means that they will be able to expand their programming and facilities to better meet the needs of their students and families.

The Waldorf School’s philosophy centers around community, so the choice to fund the project through the use of community bonds was a natural one. “I’ve always been interested in bonds as a way for community members to make a fair return while also keeping their money local,” says Ian Digby, former Trillium Parent and Chair of the Trillium Rising campaign. “Community bonds will give our supporters the opportunity to make a solid investment, while also allowing them to support our amazing school.”

The Trillium Rising campaign will raise $2 million in community bond investments and $1 million in donations, over $830,0000 of which has already been secured. With investment minimums as low as $1,000 and interest rates as high as 4%, Trillium Bonds have been designed to attract a wide range of bond purchasers from everyday Canadians, to corporations, foundations and Waldorf Education supporters.

“We’ve intentionally launched a series of bonds to suit a wide array of people in our community, while offering them a competitive return at the end of each year” says Mike Craig, Chair of the  Board of Directors. “Our bonds will appeal to investors as they are backed and secured by our real estate and allow funds to stay within the community.”

Trillium Waldorf students, families, alumni and community see this campaign as a critical step for the maturing school, helping to expand enrollment, facilities and programming. “Buying the school right now will give us a foothold for the future. We want to be able to grow, and one day even have a Waldorf high school in Guelph,” Ian says with a proud smile. 

Driven by a strong belief that Waldorf education should be accessible to all families, Trillium Waldorf has also committed to a Tuition Adjustment Program for students. “We have a sliding scale to ensure that the acceptance of a child doesn’t depend on their economic status,” explains Ian.  “We hope to be able to grow this program further in the future.”

It is clear from the way Ian speaks about the school that he, like all Trillium Waldorf parents and students, has a strong bond to the school and community. “I believe that Waldorf education is very special. It’s hands-on and allows children to learn in a beautiful way at their own developmental rate. It has had a profound impact on my own children and supported them to become the free-thinking individuals that they are today.” 

This campaign will allow Trillium Waldorf to continue providing the extraordinary Waldorf Education that develops bold, courageous, loving and giving citizens well into the future.

 “We want to build the foundation for the next 25 years of Waldorf education in Guelph,” says Ian smiling again, “I am looking forward to that time in another 25 years when we can gather and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Trillium and know that we laid those foundations through this campaign today.”

Learn more about Trillium Waldorf School and how you can invest by visiting their website here, and register for their upcoming information session

COP26: Community energy key to climate action

By Policy and Advocacy

Thousands of government officials, researchers and environmentalists have descended on Glasgow, Scotland for the United Nations climate summit, COP26. The goal: to get countries to commit to more ambitious plans to cut their emissions and collectively slow climate change. 

The climate policies that have emerged from previous COPs have focused primarily on big-business and big-budget solutions. The lack of attention to collective action at the community level, many argue, has been a fatal flaw. This year’s COP has seen more community focused groups stepping up to the plate to make their voices heard. 

What are they saying? 

Community energy has an essential role to play in achieving net-zero by engaging communities in designing, adopting, and financing local climate solutions. 

For those not familiar with the term, community energy refers to the delivery of community-led renewable energy and energy demand reductions, owned and/or controlled by communities.

Community energy benefits local economies

Beyond the important role of communities in project design, most community energy projects also involve an element of community financing. Whether this is in the form of a debt or equity stake, communities stand to benefit significantly. In fact, a Scotland based study that was launched in the lead up to COP26 illustrated that community wind projects deliver 34 times the community benefit of commercial installations. 

In Canada, there are 65 renewable energy generation co-ops incorporated, with approximately 30 of them active. Aside from co-operatives, community energy projects may also be initiated by non-profits; charities; First Nations, Metis and Inuit; educational or health institutions; municipalities; and other community-based groups.

Community investment for community energy 

Tapestry has long been involved in community energy, supporting renewable energy cooperatives to leverage community support and tap into private capital. To learn more about our parent organization, the Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC) and our 25 year history, read our story here

We have supported in raising and managing investment for 53 community energy projects in Canada. Our work dates back to supporting Canada’s very first renewable energy co-operative, WindShare. Their wind turbine project at the CNE is collectively owned by over 600 community members and Toronto Hydro, and has become a beacon for community-led climate action.

Today, we continue to work closely with Canada’s renewable energy co-ops, many of whom were initially inspired by the perseverance and success of WindShare. SolarShare, for example, is Canada’s largest and most successful renewable energy co-op with over 2,000 members, who have collectively invested more than $70 million in solar PV and earned over $9 million in returns. Their projects annually generate over 17 million KWh of electricity, resulting in annual greenhouse gas emissions reductions of more than 500 tonnes of CO2e. 

So what do we hope to see as a result of COP26?

This year, among Canada’s delegates to the conference, are several representatives from Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE), a non-profit group emphasizing the social, economic and environmental benefits that can result when First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities are full or part-owners of energy projects.

“Indigenous-led renewable energy in remote areas on Turtle Island (Canada) is making lasting and positive impacts to energy systems, environmental protection, social programs and circular economies,” said Chris Henderson, Executive Director of ICE in a recent press release. “The power of community-led initiatives go beyond measure and need to be at the forefront of climate action.”

We echo the recommendations that have been made by Chris, Mihskakwan James Harper and other delegates from ICE – we urge governments to think big but to also think small. Specifically, about how projects financed and owned by communities can help power a lower-carbon world.

What can the Canadian Government do to support Community Energy?

  1. Implement a social investment tax relief program, which would offer tax relief to investors to support investment into social purpose organizations that experience difficulty accessing financing and that deliver social/environmental benefits.
  2. Provide federal loan guarantees for co‑op projects. Federal loan guarantees could quickly reduce the cost of raising funds for co‑op projects while adding little risk for the federal budget.
  3. Support community energy and co-op investment funds that can provide traditional sources of financing and also complement co-operative members’ investments with quasi-equity (subordinated debt).
  4. Finally, the Canadian government could also create a Community Power Production Incentive directly targeted to projects that improve community energy self‑sufficiency and climate resilience. This could help close the gap faced by community power developers (co‑ops, First Nations, schools, etc.) for higher deployment costs they incur compared to commercial developers that do not have the overhead involved in attracting and administering individual community investments.

For more recommendations, read the TREC report Accelerating Renewable Energy Co-operatives in Canada

“I cannot emphasize enough that people need to be engaged in a societal effort to reach net-zero emissions,” says Mary Warner, Co-executive Director of Tapestry Community Capital and TREC. “We need energy production that is owned by local people for the benefit of local people. For this to happen, people and communities must be at the heart of climate policy.”

Kingsway College School enters last phase of their Community Bond campaign

By Client Stories, News

The kids are back to school and those at KCS couldn’t be more thrilled! For students and families who have entered the newly launched Senior School program, this is a particularly exciting time because construction of their new facility is well underway. 

For the past 7 months, KCS has been on a journey to raise $4 million in community bonds and $1 million in donations for the construction of a new campus at 2183 Lake Shore Boulevard West in Toronto, which will allow them to expand to grade 9-12. 

Set to open its doors in September 2022, the new Senior School will give students access to open spaces for performing and community-building, science labs for chemistry, biology and physics, and a fitness room to support healthy activity. 

Since March, community investors have purchased and pledged $3 million in KCS community bonds. With just shy of two months until the close of their campaign on November 30th, KCS are getting ever closer to achieving their investment goal and Senior School vision! 

Learn more about their story here, and watch the video below.

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