Downtown BIZ Provides $173,773 in Funding to Combat Homelessness


February 20, 2014


Downtown Winnipeg – A night out on the street for 100 of our city’s movers and shakers at the Downtown BIZ’s 2013 CEO Sleepout pays off today as funds that were raised were invested with five Winnipeg social agencies working to tackle homelessness. Graffiti Art Programming, Siloam Mission, Red Road Lodge, Artbeat Studio, and Macdonald Youth Services are the recipients of $173,773 granted by the Downtown BIZ to connect those experiencing homelessness or those at risk of becoming homeless with adequate housing and employment; providing these individuals with valuable work experience, life skills and training, while building self confidence and self-sufficiency. The balance of $26,227 from the $200,000 raised at last year’s CEO Sleepout will be made available in the coming months, as a second call for agency proposals will be solicited.

“The downtown business community’s eyes are open to the issue of homelessness and their hearts are empathetic and eager to support our city’s marginalized,” said Stefano Grande, Executive Director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. He added: “The private sector has a stake and responsibility to put an end to homelessness. We stand united ready to work with government and not-for-profits to further educate the business community and raise funds for housing and employment initiatives – strategic investments that provide tangible support and hope for the homeless.”

“The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ and the CEO Sleepout participants have done a wonderful job of raising awareness and resources to fund work that helps homeless individuals,” said Rob Johnston, Regional President, RBC Royal Bank and Co-Chair of the Winnipeg Task Force to End Homelessness. He added: “The Downtown BIZ is to be congratulated for their leadership and efforts to end homelessness in our city.”

$173,773 will be used to employ 38 of our city’s least fortunate for 24,070 hours in 2014:

Graffiti Art Programming Inc. ($37,350)

  • 4 youth participants employed
  • 3,000 hours of employment from February to December
  • Young Leaders Project to employ at risk youth at Studio 393, and mentor at risk youth to become leaders in Winnipeg’s downtown community. The program will encourage the participation of challenging mental and physical activities, with hands on, structured tasks involving dance, visual arts, and community building. We hope that the participants benefit from The Young Leaders Project by gaining self confidence, understanding social tolerance, feel a sense of belonging, learn to work within a team, and aspire for success in their future endeavors.

Siloam Mission ($50,000)

  • 8 participants employed
  • 14,560 hours of employment from February to December (additional hours of employment leveraged through Siloam Mission funding)
  • Participants will engage in the beautification of downtown through litter removal, snow shovelling, and event/festival clean up, collectively walking over a thousand kilometres.

Red Road Lodge ($32,400)

  • 8 participants employed
  • 2,710 hours of employment from February to December
  • Participants will engage in the beautification of Main Street through litter removal and snow shovelling, in addition to the installation of artwork along Main Street. The program targets individuals on EIA Disability who face permanent social and economic barriers.

Artbeat Studio ($25,000)

  • 12 artists living with mental illness employed with professional, meaningful and structured opportunities
  • 2,000 hours of employment from February to December
  • Participants will manage a ‘Boutique Gallery’ at Portage Place, an initiative that will provide ‘career path’ development opportunities in vocational areas such as retail sales, customer service, education and general gallery management.

Macdonald Youth Services ($29,023.20)

  • 6 youth participants hired
  • 1,800 hours of employment from April and October
  • Youth will assist in the preparation and set-up of the Downtown BIZ’s farmers’ market. They will also engage in downtown beautification projects that include: graffiti removal, assorted painting, watering of flower beds, garbage pickup and/or any other tasks deemed appropriate.

“I applaud the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s commitment to helping those in Winnipeg who need it most,” said the Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development). “We are committed to working with organizations such as yours to build stronger communities through our Housing First approach; an approach based on solid evidence that has shown stronger results than we’ve seen under any previous approaches to address homelessness.”


About the CEO Sleepout

Since 2011, the Downtown BIZ has made a commitment to help address long-term social and economic costs of homelessness. Recently, the Downtown BIZ organized its third annual CEO Sleepout in 2013 which recruited and mobilized over 100 leaders from the private and public sectors to help bring attention and awareness to the intricate and complex issue of homelessness in our city and downtown community. Over $200,000 was raised to support social agencies in their efforts to employ their participants and in providing them with quality-of-life supports and access to housing. Since 2011, over $400,000 has been raised by the private sector, helping to employ over 30 people experiencing homelessness – with many of these individuals returning to school or finding permanent full-time work. This event also has ignited a desire from the private/public sector to work together towards the creation of a long-term strategy to end homelessness through the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council’s (WPRC) Task Force to End Homelessness, co-chaired by RBC’s Rob Johnston and SEED Winnipeg’s Cindy Coker.

Donating to Change for the Better in three easy ways:

  1. Online at
  2. Cheque or money order to “Downtown BIZ – Change for the Better” and mailed to: Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, 426 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3C 0C9.
  3. Collection boxes at participating venues downtown

– 30 –

For more information, please contact:

Jason Syvixay, Managing Director
Tel: (204) 958-4635; Cell: 997-3040

change-for-the-better-announcement-feb-20-2014 change-for-the-better-announcement-feb-20-2014_13