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Client Stories

Community Bonds supercharge the electric vehicle transition

By | Client Stories, News

Earth Day Canada is building the infrastructure of the future, and using community bonds as a way to engage all Canadians in the electric vehicle transition.

Seven in 10 Canadians who plan to buy a new vehicle within the next five years are likely to buy an electric vehicle (EV). “The change is coming,” says Pierre Lussier, President of Earth Day Canada, “The Canadian Government has pledged to ban the sale of gas cars by 2035, and major car manufacturers like Volkswagen and Honda have made similar commitments to phase out sales of combustion engines.”

While the electric car industry is evolving rapidly, charge points aren’t always easy to find. This unmet need is why Earth Day Canada is building a network of 100 fast-charging stations that will stretch across New Brunswick and Quebec.

For the past 25 years, Earth Day Canada has been supporting Canadians to lower their impact on the environment. In recent years, the organization has had a strong focus on mobility. They developed a ride-sharing application used across Quebec, and partnered in creating the first zero-emissions refrigerated lightweight truck in Canada.

“We are actively working to develop new ways for mobility because we acknowledge that at the centre of the climate change issue is the way our society moves. We want to be part of getting EVs to the masses and democratizing the needed infrastructure,” says Pierre.

The EcoCharge network will extend to areas where there is currently a lack of fast charging equipment; not only in the metropolitan areas of Montreal, Quebec City, Trois-Rivières and Sherbrooke, but also in less populated areas, including Victoriaville, Gaspé, Rouyn-Noranda, Chelsea, Saint-Félicien. The locations of the EcoCharge stations, which will be installed by the end of 2021, can be viewed here.

To bring this project to life, Earth Day Canada has brought together a network of dedicated partners, including IGA (Sobeys), the Quebec Association of Electric Vehicles (AVEQ), Natural Resources Canada, Investment Quebec, Fondaction, as well as our team at Tapestry Community Capital. Jointly, these partners will support in financing the $14.75 million project.

The Community Bond campaign

Together, Earth Day Canada and Tapestry, have developed a $2 million investment campaign that will mobilize private capital through the use of community bonds. “They are the perfect tool for our vision,” explains Pierre, “because this isn’t just about financing, it’s also about building a community around these service centres.”

The investment campaign will be open to all Canadians interested in investing with impact. In addition to the environmental return of the project, community bonds will offer investors 4% interest per year for a period of 7 years or 3.5% per year for a period of 5 years. Investors will also receive free recharging time at EcoCharge stations.

“We are so excited about this campaign,” says Ryan Collins-Swartz, Co-Executive Director of Tapestry. “Not only will this be the largest community bond campaign in Quebec to date, but it will also be the first of its nature across Canada,” he shares. “There is something very powerful about allowing the average citizen to participate, not just emotionally but also financially, in a cause that they believe in. We hope this investment opportunity will give those interested in making a difference the agency to be a part of the positive change.”

A convenient charging experience

Earth Day has partnered with IGA to install the chargers across 50 IGA sites so that customers can charge their vehicles while they shop for groceries. With a speed of 62.5 kW, the charging stations will be the fastest network of charging stations in Canada and will be able to fully charge a vehicle in just 20 minutes. Built for the future, these stations will always be installed in pairs and can be combined to provide 125 kW of electricity to meet the needs of the next generation of electric vehicles.

“Access to charging stations on private property multiplies charging options for citizens, complements public initiatives and reduces pressure on public property” says Montréal City Councillor, Sophie Mauzerolle. The EcoCharge network is a much needed complement to the existing 225 public fast-charging stations already in operation across Quebec.

Building a more sustainable Canada

With more charging infrastructure available, the decision to buy an EV should become an easier one for those looking to make a car purchase. Even at current rates of EV penetrations, within 10 years of operation, EcoCharge will have saved 33,000 tons in GHG emissions.

“We all have a role to play in fighting climate change,” says Pierre, “and we don’t have any more time to wait for solutions.”

“We know that EVs are the way of the future and a part of the answer,” says Pierre, “so, together we are going to build the infrastructure that this country needs to expedite the transition.”

What’s Next?

To learn more about how you can participate and invest, visit the EcoCharge website and register for their upcoming Investor Information Session.

Community Bonds that turned Waste into Power

By | Client Stories, Success Story

The project that charmed Ontario

“Everyone is just so excited to talk about poop,” laughs Daniel Bida, Founder of the ZooShare Biogas Co-operative. I’ve just connected with him over Zoom to hear about the recent completion of their biogas project at the Toronto Zoo. “The joke never seems to get old and that’s an advantage we’ve always had,” he says, “it’s part of what drew people to our story and mission.”

With a background in finance and a passion for the environment, Daniel has always been fascinated by the potential to turn waste into something useful. Ten years ago, that curiosity turned into a bold vision to build Canada’s first zoo-based biogas plant.

The plan was simple – take zoo waste (yes, poop!) and commercial food waste collected from the Greater Toronto Area, use an anaerobic digester to produce biogas, and burn that gas to produce clean power. His plan also revolved around financing the project through community investors, like you or I, who could invest as little as $500.

“We’ve been really lucky that the media loved to tell our story. I think that’s partly because the conversation on food waste and its impact on greenhouse gas emissions has really picked up in recent years, and partly because of the ‘cuteness’ of our project,” says Daniel, “these two elements really helped us to raise the financing that we needed.”

To date, the organization has raised over $7 million from over 700 investors, to invest in the project and to refinance earlier investments that are now maturing. The co-op also joined forces with Oshawa Power and Utilities Corporation, who made an investment in the project in exchange for 49% of the equity, and the Federal government, which granted $2.7 million from the Low Carbon Economy Fund.

What started as a mere idea, now stands fully constructed across from the Toronto Zoo processing zoo poop and commercial food waste, producing biogas, and running a combined heat and power generator to produce clean power for Ontario’s electricity grid.

Now that the project is operational, it will divert 15,000 tons of food waste from landfills each year, reduce CO2 emissions by up to 20,000 tons, generate 500kW of renewable energy each year, and produce a nutrient rich fertilizer as a by-product.

The Investors made all the difference

“I don’t think I realized at the time how proud people were to become investors in ZooShare,” says Daniel, “that’s something I only came to understand with time.”

While Daniel’s plan for the biogas digester may have appeared simple on paper, the execution was far from it. He was working in what is still an emerging industry and using a technology that was not widely understood in Ontario at that time.

ZooShare faced several hurdles along the way, including finding long-term suppliers of waste and dealing with organic waste that was not free of plastics, just to name a couple.

In 2017, ZooShare held what Daniel describes as their most difficult Annual General Meeting. They had come up against so many hurdles that they were faced with a major decision. “Essentially, we were at the point where we either just had to pull the plug and return investor’s money, or as a Board and co-op, make the decision to deploy the capital we had even though all the financing to complete the project was not yet in place ,” shares Daniel.

The co-op was quickly approaching the cut off date of their feed-in-tariff contract – a key element of their business model to ensure that their renewable power would be purchased by the Ontario power grid. They needed to begin generating power to maintain the contract, and to do that they needed to finance the combined heat and power generator.

They put the decision to the investors. “I was fully expecting for people to ask for their money back,” shares Daniel, “I really thought there was a limit to the patience the members would have after the previous delays we had faced.”

“But I was wrong, this wasn’t a traditional boardroom,” says Daniel, “the investors just said ‘you just keep fighting, you get back in there!’ It was really powerful to have that type of support.”

With their community bond investors behind them, they met the deadline to generate electricity. There were still hurdles ahead to be met, but it was clear at this point that the investors were in it for the long haul.

ZooShare investors gather for the groundbreaking.

Impact First, Returns Second

“The patient investors we have are the reason we were able to do what we did,” says Daniel. “These are people that were motivated to make an impact. They weren’t people who wanted to make a return and the impact was ‘a nice to have’. They wanted to make an impact and the return was ‘a nice to have.’”

With a background in finance, it was very interesting for Daniel to see the ways in which different people perceive risk. “When we got started we priced our offering based on the pricing of securities with a similar risk profile,” he says.

“I’m not sure that the people who ultimately invested in ZooShare would have been swayed by a 0.5% or 1% difference in interest.” says Daniel. “That’s not to say that they didn’t care about the return, they did, but they cared about the impact first.”

Daniel believes that if you are doing something environmentally or socially positive and you offer at least an average return, then it really comes down to telling a compelling story.

Some advice to those looking to raise financing

The ZooShare Biogas Co-operative was one of the first non-profits in Canada to issue community bonds. As pioneers in the space, they have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with fellow organizations looking to build a project and finance it through community investment.

Reflecting on his experience, Daniel shared three pieces of wisdom for those looking to follow in the co-op’s footsteps.

1. Assume things are going to go slower and cost more than you think.

Pad your assumptions so that you don’t have to go back to the drawing board and find more funding. Be frugal and diligent with the money you have in pocket. Having some wiggle room will give you the flexibility to make good decisions.

2. Even if things don’t go as planned, it’s important to keep investors informed.

My approach was always to be hopeful and optimistic, but also as forthcoming and transparent as possible. I think investors appreciate and respect that.

3. Don’t issue bonds to build something until you are ready to build.

When we got started, I really felt that we needed to have the money in hand to prove that we were serious to the other stakeholders we were negotiating with. The problem was that once it was in the bank, we were paying interest on it and as the delays piled up, so did the interest costs. You don’t want to be paying for capital that you aren’t using.

What’s next for Zooshare?

From the very start, one of the main drivers behind this project was to leverage it as an educational asset. It is one of the reasons that Daniel selected the Toronto Zoo as the site for the digester. “Our hope with this project is not just to process waste and generate power, but also to introduce people to biogas,” says Daniel. The co-op is actively working with the Zoo, Parks Canada and a renewable energy education charity called Relay Education to make this a reality.

Expansion could be a likely next step for ZooShare. In bioenergy, Daniel explains, economies of scale are very much at play. The co-op could conceivably build another digester tank, take more waste and generate more gas. “There is strong demand for renewable natural gas (or RNG), to be sold as gas, rather than used to generate electricity. We are actively exploring this market,” says Daniel.

Daniel stands next to the completed biogas digester. Photo Credit: Dan Pearce.

A time to celebrate the accomplishments of Zooshare

While Covid-19 may have thrown a wrench in their plans, ZooShare still intends to find a way to celebrate the launch of the facility. They will be releasing a video about the project next month, and hope to host an open house in the fall so that the public can tour the facility.

Stay tuned to the ZooShare’s newsletter and social media to stay up to date on what they have planned!

 

Kingsway College School (KCS) Senior School

Using Community Bonds to change the landscape of education

By | Client Stories

“We’re ready to shake up the independent school scene,” says Hallie McClelland, Director of Advancement at Kingsway College School (KCS) in Toronto.

I’ve just connected with her over Zoom to discuss how their project is progressing, and when I see Hallie’s energy, it’s clear how excited and proud she is of what KCS has planned. 

“We come from humble beginnings,” she shares, “we were founded by a group of dedicated community members 32 years ago, and when the school opened we had just 50 students.” Over the years the school has organically grown and evolved, due in large part to the overwhelming demand for independent education in Toronto’s West End. The school now has almost 400 students, with two classes per grade from JK to grade 8, and over 70 staff. 

“We are finally ready to deliver on a promise that we’ve had for a long time now,” says Hallie with a big smile, “we are ready to build the senior school that our community needs and our students deserve.”

Delivering on their promise of a senior school

The new KCS senior school will be 40,000 square feet, spread over two floors of a new condo development at 2183 Lake Shore Boulevard West. The school will give high school 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. The school is set to open its doors in September 2022. 

To bring their vision to life, KCS is raising $4 million in community bonds and $1 million in charitable donations. Anyone across Canada can invest as little as $2,500 in KCS and make a 3% return over 5 years. 

KCS Community Bond Investments

“We love the fact that we are going to be paying out interest to individuals and organizations that believe in our mission. We are seeing community bonds as a really meaningful way to connect with people and engage them in this special project. We also love that we are leading the way for our students and showcasing what innovation looks like.”

“The really amazing thing,” Hallie adds, “is that anyone who invests in the school will become a lifelong Senior School Founder.” This means that investors will be recognized in perpetuity for their role in creating this school. 

Kingsway College School (KCS) Senior School

Fulfilling a community need

“I think a big part of the excitement around this project is that we are filling a real gap in the market,” Hallie notes. KCS is currently the only independent elementary school in Toronto’s West End, and when complete, will also be the only independent Senior School in the area.

In order to meet latent demand while construction is underway, KCS will be offering their first cohort of the senior school at a temporary location. “This means that when we open our doors, we will be starting with one grade 10 class and three grade 9 classes,” says Hallie, “we already know that placements in the senior school are going to be in very high demand.”

“This is because KCS isn’t your average independent school,” she says, smiling again. Yes, they meet Ontario’s curriculum standards. But KCS also goes above and beyond because they recognize that the world is changing very quickly for young people, and education needs to adapt to respond to these changing needs. 

Kingsway College School (KCS) Senior School

The senior school program is a culmination of years of work and design. A task force of over 40 people reviewed more than 80 independent schools internationally, and brought together the best pieces of all of them. “We are very confident in what we have to offer Senior School students,” says Hallie. 

“Even though we’re growing, our ethos, mission and values will always remain the same. What is most important to us is graduating students that not only excel academically, but that are good global citizens who have the tools to do well for themselves and for others.”

An education system that gives today’s youth the tools they need to succeed

Investing in KCS means investing in the education of the future – an education that will prepare students for the real world and give them all the tools they need to become the best people they can be. “There is no more important investment than education,” says Hallie. “Education has the power to radically change our society for the better; to create more well-rounded, courageous, accountable and empathetic leaders.”

The fact that the school is meeting a real community need, has a solid foundation and strong business model, and that the bonds are backed by a real asset makes this a very attractive investment. The campaign has already built a huge amount of excitement so far, with $2.7 million pledged in bond purchases to date.

“I’m an investor,” says Hallie proudly, “actually, I purchased two bonds! I believe in this investment, I believe in this school, and most importantly I believe we will change the landscape of education and build a Senior School in Toronto that our students deserve and our community needs.”

Become a KCS Founder

KCS urges investors that are interested to learn more through their website, sign up for an investment information session, and not to delay getting involved. “We know the bonds will sell out quickly, and we’d like to have as many people involved as possible,” Hallie concludes with excitement.

Kingsway College School (KCS) Senior School

Kingsway College School launches $4M Community Bond Campaign

By | Client Stories, News

We are excited to announce that Kingsway College School (KCS) has officially opened their community bond campaign to the public. KCS is raising $4 million in community bonds, called KCS Bonds, to help build a senior school for their community. 

From their beginnings as a small community school, KCS has grown to a student population of over 500 children. There’s no disputing that KCS’s JK to 8 programme produces great students. The Senior School will meet the same high standards of the Junior School, which was established in 1989, and will be aligned with the KCS vision of developing lifelong learners. 

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. Most importantly, the Senior School will give KCS students the opportunity to continue their high school education with a school that feels like home, and provide a new independent schooling option to families in Toronto’s West End. 

What is a KCS Bond?

A KCS Bond is a community bond = an interest bearing loan that a non-profit or charity can issue to support a project that they are undertaking. Any individual or institution can purchase a KCS Bond and earn a fixed interest rate each year. Interest is paid out yearly, and the principal is paid out at the end of the term. KCS Bonds are eligible to be held in tax-advantaged accounts, including Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA’s) and Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP’s).

This financing model makes sense for KCS as they were able to set their own terms based on their financial situation, and allows them to involve their community and give back to their supporters simultaneously. Tapestry Community Capital is KCS’s community bond partner for this campaign, and will manage the investments for the length of the terms. 

KCS Community Bond Investments“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 Bronwen Evens, Chair, KCS Board of Governors. “A Major pull is that our bonds are backed and secured by our real estate and are not correlated to financial markets.”

How can you invest?

With over $1.2 million in bonds pledged to be purchased to date, KCS is now inviting the greater community to join the journey. Visit kcsbonds.ca to invest. Register for the KCS Investor Information Session today to learn more. 

SKETCH Project Home

SKETCH’s Project Home: Changing the face of financing for the arts

By | Client Stories, Success Story

For 24 years, SKETCH has been a stronghold for community arts in Toronto.

Their free programming – which includes everything from culinary arts, to dance, to digital media – targets youth ages 16-29 who live homeless or on the margins and navigate poverty. SKETCH is driven by the strong belief that if young people create and develop in the arts, they will build leadership skills and self-sufficiency.

When talking to SKETCH artists, it’s clear the impact they have had on their community and the radical change they have inspired. The video below features Joel Zola, an alumnae, who experienced homelessness for 7 years. He is now the Executive Director of Street Voices, and says that SKETCH had a transformative impact on his life.

Through the years, SKETCH was forced to move their programming location many times.

As renters, they were always at the whim of their landlords and victim to rising rents in the city. They finally found a home in 2014, in a community hub and former public school building owned by ArtScape. It was everything they had hoped for – 9,000 sqft that includes a commercial kitchen, a recording studio, a ceramic studio, an office space to meet their needs, and so much more.

In 2018, an amazing opportunity presented itself.

SKETCH was given the opportunity to purchase their space to turn their home into a permanent home. They knew that under their current lease, they were looking at a 4.5% rent increase every year and that meant that if they didn’t buy, they would need to relocate in just 5 years. They also knew that to maintain their impact, they needed to stay in a downtown, accessible location.

Graph showing cost of renting versus owning

SKETCH had a vision, a bold champion in Rudy Ruttimann, their Executive Director, and a strong and supportive community behind them.

This is when SKETCH met Tapestry. We launched a feasibility study, and together came to the realization that Community Bonds could be a very sustainable solution to creating a permanent and lasting space for their programming. Not only this, but it could also be a chance to build even stronger connections with their community of supporters.

Enter the SKETCH Project Home Bond.

SKETCH secured a mortgage for $1.1 million with Alterna Savings and committed to raising $1.52 in capital fundraising. To reach their total goal of $4.02 million, they made the decision to raise $1.4 million in Community Bonds, finally allowing them to buy their studio and admin space.

Their campaign has been designed to allow a wide array of people to invest, with an entry point as low as $500.

They are also selling a Giving Bond – which is a first in Canada. The Giving Bond allows an investor to purchase a bond and then donate the interest that is earned on it. They will then receive a tax credit for the donation, and receive their initial principal back in full.

Sketch bond offering
How is it going so far?

Their community has already invested $926,000 to date – that’s 66% of their target investment!

If you want to learn more about the Project Home campaign, you can visit their campaign page or register for their upcoming info session of Feb. 5th, 2021. If you are unable to join, watch a recording here.

Centre for Social Innovation 192 Spadina Location

Centre for Social Innovation Closes Raise of $1.9M!

By | Client Stories, News, Success Story

A huge congratulations go out to the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) for reaching their 2020 Community Bond goal of $1.9M in only 41 days! 

CSI has a successful history of using community bonds to support their work:

  • In 2010, CSI raised $2 million over the course of four months to own their first CSI Annex location at 720 Bathurst St.,
  • In 2014 they raised $4.3 million to purchase and renovate CSI Spadina at 192 Spadina Ave.

“I think the record success of this campaign to build the next economy, during this unprecedented time of hardship and activism, speaks to the moment: great challenges demand that we rise to meet them. We’re entering a new era and the potential we have today to reshape ourselves hasn’t existed since the post-war era. Our community of impact investors are some of the wisest most committed people in Canada. I think they saw the opportunity, and CSI’s track record of doing the work, and proving that big ideas are possible, and they wanted to be part of the solution.

We couldn’t have done this without the essential services provided by our long-term partners at Tapestry. From the sage advice, technology, process recommendations, and thorough knowledge of the regulatory dos and don’ts, to the careful, friendly, long-term investor management, we simply could not be in the Community Bond business without them.”

Kyle Shantz, Director of Growth, CSI

With the help of Tapestry – and nearly 120 individual community investors like yourself – CSI was able to raise an impressive $1.9 M in under two months for their most recent bond project.

The CB 2020 bond offering was an invitation to their community of members and supporters to invest in the people, places, and programs that put people and the planet first. 

The funds from this raise will support a variety of programs that are in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – Quality Education, Gender Equality, Decent Work, Reduced Inequality, Sustainable Communities, and Climate Action. 

We are proud to be a part of this great success and look forward to watching the future unfold for the Centre for Social Innovation! Click here to learn more about this project!

If you are interested in learning more about bringing your dream project to life through community bonds, find out more here or e-mail Ryan Collins-Swartz at ryan@tapestrycapital.ca.

The Argonaut Rowing Club: Case Study

By | Client Stories, Success Story

Filled with pride, Jason van Ravenswaay, president of the not for profit Argonaut Rowing Club had just finished giving us a tour of the club’s completely renovated facilities. It certainly didn’t look like this 2 years ago he laughed.

The Argonaut Rowing Club President, Jason Van Ravensway

In 2018, following catastrophic flooding in 2017, the Argonaut Rowing Club (ARC) set out on a 2-year journey to rebuild and revitalize their club.

The ARC team was motivated to go beyond just repairing the damage and saw an opportunity to work together with their community to build a club for the future. Working with Tapestry Community Capital, ARC was able to finance their dream project on their terms.

We’re proud to have guided their team through this successful raise and excited to share their story with you. If you are interested in learning more about what it took for the team to raise $1.2 Million in six months, download the case study for free.


If you want to get started with your own community bond project or know of any interesting community bond projects that you think we should profile, get in touch to book a private Community Bonds Accelerator Workshop for your team.

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How the Argonaut Rowing Club raised $1 million in 4 months

By | Client Stories, Education, Success Story
Jason van Ravenswaay, President of the Argonaut Rowing Club

In March 2019, following a six month pre-campaign planning process, the Argonaut Rowing club launched Argonaut Rowing Club NEXT (ARC Next), a rebrand of their five-year revitalization project, designed to support current and future rowers for the next 50 years. Over the next 5 years, the club aims to attract over 80 new members, reach 15 local schools and support 80 young athletes.

In support of the campaign, the club is raising $1.2 million dollars through a community bond raise, to fund the essential upgrades that would offer a fully accessible facility, increased member capacity and youth programs. To date, there has been just over $1 million pledged to the campaign in under four months, with a deadline of September 15, to raise the final amount. We spoke with Jason van Ravenswaay, President of the Argonaut Rowing Club to get his perspective on the campaign so far.

What is the vision of ARC Next and what makes this project iconic?

Argonaut Rowing Club boat racks

In part, what makes the project iconic is that the rowing club has been around for a long time. We’ve had our, ups and downs over that time. At one point the rowing club even burned down. We’ve always come back stronger. The opportunity that we have is really bringing the club to the next level, reaching more youth, and becoming completely accessible for our para-athletes.

That’s the primary vision. Right now, we’re investing a lot in our youth. About 3 years ago, our junior program was 3 – 5 people. And, we’ve actively been growing that program, investing in coaching, in safety, in new rowing shelves so that these athletes can compete and have the opportunity to be successful.

With this ARC next campaign, we’re able to open up more space so that we can grow this program even further. Right now, we’re at 60 junior athletes, which is a lot. This program doesn’t really make money for the club. It actually costs us money, but we’re very passionate helping people get introduced into the sport of rowing and creating that passion.

Why is this so important?

For me it’s important because rowing has been an outlet. It’s been a way to be healthy, to enjoy the city, and the beautiful lake that we have the privilege of living on. And, I think what’s great is that rowing is addictive.

I want people to have the opportunity to feel what that’s like and to fall in love with the sport.

For yourself, what has been the biggest challenge in this bond raise so far?

Probably the biggest challenge is—we have a phenomenal leadership team behind this bond raise and on the board of directors, but the reality is that these leaders for the club are all volunteers. Everyone has jobs and careers outside of the rowing club. So, the challenge is really getting people energized.

We’re working late nights to get a lot of this stuff done, and you know, a lot of planning goes into this campaign. With the financial modelling, and the business plan and really thinking through what the next five to seven years look like. We’ve been thinking about and planning for this investment. We knew that we needed to do something, in particular looking at the flooding that’s been happening in our changing room.

Argonaut Rowing Club practice with woman's team

We’ve been making small investments in our program, that have moved us forward, but planning such a big one-time investment that gets us everything that we need to push all of our programs forward and to reach more in the community is a heavy lift. We’re really lucky that we have the leadership team that we do because they’re putting in tonnes of hours getting this done.

That’s been the hardest part of this campaign.

What has been the biggest surprise throughout this whole campaign?

The biggest surprise has been that a lot of people have the same passion for our club and for the impact that we have. They have come through and invested in ARC next.

I think probably the investors that kind of give me goosebumps are really the parents. People that aren’t rowing, but their kids have been through our programs and just how they reflect on their children’s experience and how it has changed their lives. How it’s gotten into their schools and how it’s created a network of friends that are strong, motivated individuals.

The parents want the club to be able to scale and have this impact on their children. Some of the parents that are sitting on our committee, their kids are actually off to university now, and they’re participating in the bond raise—whether that’s investing or actually being on the team—because of the impact that we’ve had on their kids in previous years.

It sounds like you’ve been able to cultivate a really amazing community around the club!

We’ve been really lucky and we have a lot of really great volunteers that are really driving the community and culture. We’re super grateful that everyone has been so engaged.

Argonaut Rowing Club woman rowing

You have surpassed the $1 million pledges milestone, what do you feel has been the biggest factor in your success to date?

We have a pretty strong vision and we have been working on a number of micro initiatives that have all kind of lined up right in front of this ARC Next campaign. As an example, a year and a half ago we assembled a grant committee, and they began figuring out what do we need to support our programs and what kind of grants are out there. Writing grant proposals is very time consuming and we had all that work done upfront and we successfully were awarded a grant at the beginning of this fiscal year which helped pushed this campaign forward.

So, for you it was all the prep-work that was done beforehand?

The prep work and the vision of all the different micro-components, like the banquet facility, which is critical to supporting this investment. With the banquet facility, really understanding the feedback from our client to know what types of investments are really going to elevate the space and allow us to demand higher fees and get more revenue out of that space. And, even before that making sure that we had the right management in place for the banquet space and we had some issues with water coming into the building so investing and building a wall at the front of the building to divert water away and into the lake. There’s just so many different components that have all come together this summer, but the club, it’s different. It’s a different space, it’s a different feel, it’s a different energy, and people are really excited and they want to be down there.

Argonaut Rowing Club woman and coachWoman being coached on rowing

How has Tapestry helped to bring this campaign to life?

Tapestry has been a tremendous support; we really didn’t know where to start only that we didn’t want traditional financing. Finding community bonds and Tapestry made our vision possible; especially for a volunteer organization like ours it would have taken years of work to get where we are today without Tapestry.

And, if you were going to give advice to someone who was considering embarking on a community bond campaign, what would you tell them?

Focus on impact. What is the impact that you’re going to have on your community. On the people or the environment, and really paint a picture of what that feels like. It’s important that people get the feels for what you’re doing. Sometimes it’s hard to communicate the motivation behind something but emotion is powerful.

The Argonaut Rowing Club staff, board members and committees are coming together to celebrate the momentous achievement of reaching the $1 million milestone on July 17th at the clubhouse to encourage the last round of investments from members, parents and stakeholders.

To stay engaged and up-to-date on all things ARC Next and to learn more about the project, visit www.arcnext.ca. See you on the water!

Coworking space

The CSI Builds the Co-Working Space of the Future

By | Client Stories, Success Story

Tonya Surman is one of Co-founders of the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), a social enterprise in Toronto, Canada, that specializes in the creation of shared workspaces for people and organizations with a social mission.

Founded in 2004, the CSI quickly became a hotbed of social innovation. By 2009, they were operating 28,000 sq ft of leased space and had a dynamic membership of over 175 people and projects committed to social change. They had a waiting list so long that they knew it was time to grow their physical space. Tonya had a bold idea – let’s buy a building.

As a successful non-profit organization, they had built a strong reputation and cultivated deep network but they had no assets to leverage and practically no money, with only $50,000 in accumulated surplus. The building they hoped to buy was $6.8 million to purchase and renovate.

So, they decided to leverage the best asset they had – their community. The result was the CSI community bond, which allowed them to offer an RRSP-eligible investment opportunity to their network of supporters. Within four months, they had raised $1.4 million (and eventually $2 million), took ownership of their newest building and prepared to welcome over 300 new socially driven organizations.

A group of people wearing orange shirts in front of solar panels

SolarShare creates investment opportunity for all Ontarian’s to participate in Renewable Energy

By | Client Stories, Success Story

Solar energy is an industry growing in both scale and opportunity. In 2010, Mike Brigham founded and became president of SolarShare with the philosophy that we not only need to transition to renewable sources of energy, but that energy should be owned and operated by communities.

To achieve this bold vision, SolarShare introduced Solar Bonds – 5- or 15-year bonds that allow Ontarians to invest directly to support solar energy, while allowing them to share in the profits of the co-op.

Now, SolarShare has become the largest renewable energy co-op in Canada, growing from three initial projects to 48, and raising over $36 million in financing from bonds with over 1,500 investors across Ontario. The support of their investors has allowed SolarShare to thrive and has allowed hundreds of people to direct their investments towards energy projects that benefit their savings, the environment, and SolarShare.

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