Discover what what we heard from rural resilient youth in the Young Rural Resilient Summary Report. Consider their perspectives and gain insight into how rural youth are engaged and plugged into the world around them.

“There’s a generation of change makers on the horizon and we are ready to take action,” YRR participant.

YRR Summary Report

The Rural Ontario Institute’s Rural Change Maker Program is growing. This program supports young people in rural Ontario ages of 18-35 to build confidence and capacity in community change making.

For nearly a decade ROI has supported over 40 emerging leaders from all corners of Ontario through youth-focused programming to help them make a difference in their communities, based on self-identified community needs, hopes and goals.

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

To bridge youth-identified gaps and better serve the diverse needs, hopes and dreams of young people in rural Ontario we have re-tooled our upcoming 2023 Rural Change Makers program based on the many voices, perspectives, research, interviews and feedback from the Young Rural Resilient Project. 

As part of this outreach, ROI engaged with hundreds of rural, remote and Indigenous youth, intertribal leaders and community members. We engaged and we listened! Listened to what rural youth need. What matters to youth. What they hope for. What they love about their communities and how we can wrap opportunities around those aspirations to create spaces for leadership, growth, respect, inclusion, discovery and belonging. Thank you for sharing with us. Your input has been profoundly meaningful and central to the co-design of the upcoming Rural Change Makers Program.

What We Heard

The Rural Ontario Institute is grateful for the support received through the Trillium Foundation, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Libro Credit Union.

ROI believes in a thriving rural Ontario that invests in the next generation of rural leaders and supports opportunities for leadership, community development, diversity, inclusion, discovery and belonging. That’s why we are undertaking an evaluation of our Rural Changemaker Program to:

  • Explore where rural youth are gathering in their communities.
  • Investigate the hardships faced by youth in rural communities in Ontario.
  • Understand the aspirations of youth in rural communities.
  • Discover youth perspectives of self-confidence, leadership, community development and sense of belonging in relation to rural communities in Ontario.

Congratulations to our 2 Young Rural Resilient Survey Content Winners:

Sam Barry young rural resilient emerging Indigenous leader.Shiriya Firth - Young Rural Resilient Indigenous Emerging Leader

Becoming Change

Discover the Rural Change Maker program –  shaped by the collective voice of Young Rural Resilient youth in Ontario.

Timeline of Planned Activities


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.