Now accepting applications for the 2024 Rural Change Maker Program.


ROI is excited to announce recruitment to the 2024 Rural Change Maker Program packed full of specialized leadership skills training, enriching experiential learning activities, impactful new community development frameworks, tools and youth exchange opportunities!


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

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

If you answered yes, we invite you to apply to the 2024 Rural Change Maker Program.
Applications open May 1, 2024.

Up to 36 motivated young adults, between the ages of 18-35, will be selected from across Ontario to address community identified priorities in their region. Over 35 regional and program partnerships with a network of community organizations, workforce planning board, economic development groups, and First Nations- including a collective of 24 northern Ontario Indigenous communities, support change makers on their journey. Regional partners set the stage for local youth recruitment to the RCM program, mentorship and coaching, leadership skills training and hyper-local community economic development projects.

Rural Change Makers and emerging leaders have been engaged with evaluation and co-design of the Rural Change Maker leadership program. As a group, successful applicants will undertake a learning journey together, participate in a series of developmental learning labs and come together for a face-to-face experiential gatherings supporting them to take action on a challenge/opportunity in their community. Change makers will create SMART Action plans and with the support of coaches, mentors, partners and each other, will work toward actioning those plans through community and entrepreneurial projects.

Skill development spans 4 months of learning labs, followed by an Ignite practicum event and culminating with 6 months of community economic development projects. The whole journey spans 12 months and introduces emerging leaders to over 2500 network connections, new friendships and rural development experiences that are transformative for communities and young leaders.

#RuralOn #RuralChangeMakers #LeadYourFuture

Rural Change Makers, using the skills developed, will engage with their communities to address an important priority, challenge or issue. Some Change Makers will choose their own community development pathway. Some will identify unique projects with community and others may wish to work toward existing project goals shared with community organizations and partners.

Thank you to the over 35 regional and program partners coming alongside youth on their program journey including:

  • Community Futures Huron serving Huron County,
  • Opiikapawiin Services LP (OSLP) representing a collective of 24 northern Ontario First Nations,
  • Haliburton-Minden Hills community collective including over 20 businesses, leaders, organizations, farmers and educators,
  • TRENVAL Business Development Corporation,
  • Renfrew County Community Futures Development Corporation,
  • Renfrew County Economic Development,
  • Haliburton County Development Corporation, and
  • Four County Labour Market Planning Board.



Change Makers do incredible things and bring their own lived experiences and unique perspectives to build meaningful outcomes with their communities.

The 2023 change makers represent over 31 rural communities from throughout Ontario, a network reaching more than 2000 connections with each other, partners, organizations and community members.

Regional Map showing locations of over 30 rural communities to be impacted by Rural Change Makers.

In case you missed it! Catch our latest project updates and follow the work of Rural Change Makers: Blog | ROI Connect.

Thank you Rural Change Maker Program Sponsors and Partners

Melanie Bidiuk

Who's Listening

Melanie Bidiuk

ROI Program Coordinator

Program Impact

  • Skill Development 93% 93%
  • Increased Rural Retention 72% 72%
  • Making a Difference 78% 78%
  • Increased Community Connectedness 91% 91%

RCM Program Timeline


The adventure begins

The 2024 RCM journey begins with a welcome session and special Youth Summit event.


Learning Journey

Learning labs commence Sept. 14 and are delivered every other week (8 total)  until Dec. 14.


Ignite action lab

An inter-regional gathering putting learned skills to action where changemakers begin to envision the necessary steps to lead community & economic development projects.


Community Discovery Session

A “discovery session” with local stakeholders and community members focusing on an asset-based approach and linking them with allies to mobilization efforts.


Community Action/Development Labs

Change Makers will start their action plan towards a short-term concrete project that will be the focus of their initial steps in effecting change in their community. 


CED Projects

Change Makers lead action on SMART plans for rural development projects with communities. Community projects can range from entrepreneural or social enterprise, to existing or new initiatives. Community activities are lead by change makers and supported by monthly coaching sessions with program staff, mentors, peers and community leaders.



Change Makers will celebrate then end of their community development journey with family and friends.