Downtown BIZ Grants $105K to Combat Homelessness



April 22, 2013
Graffiti Art, Siloam Mission and Red Road Lodge Receive $105,190 in Funding from Downtown BIZ
Downtown BIZ funding to support employment programs for city’s homeless
Downtown Winnipeg – Winnipeg CEOs traded their briefcases for sleeping bags at the Downtown BIZ’s 2nd annual CEO Sleepout last fall and the funds that were raised were officially granted today to Graffiti Art Programming Inc., Siloam Mission, and Red Road Lodge in order to provide essential quality-of-life supports and employment for our city’s homeless.
“Business is beginning to realize that homelessness is a community problem – it affects everyone, and everyone pays for it,” said Stefano Grande, Executive Director of the Downtown BIZ. “This financial support represents a larger commitment from the corporate community in creating employment opportunities for those who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless.”
The Downtown BIZ recruited over 100 Winnipeg CEOs and community leaders to spend one evening downtown at the CEO Sleepout events in 2011 and 2012 to raise awareness about homelessness and poverty issues in the city. Together, they helped raise over $220,000 to employ our city’s homeless. Last fall, CEOs and the business community also had the opportunity to get engaged and informed on homelessness issues during Winnipeg’s first Homelessness Awareness Week, coordinated by a broad-based coalition of social agency providers and supported by the BIZ (
Funding from our inaugural CEO Sleepout was allocated in 2012, and helped employ 23 people who are homeless for a total of 4,046 hours over 8 months.
Graffiti Art Programming Inc.
-5 participants employed
-800 hours worked
-Participants organized youth arts workshops, engaged in downtown beautification projects, and supported surrounding downtown community initiatives.
Siloam Mission
-8 participants employed
-1,746 hours worked
-Participants helped enhance downtown image and cleanliness by picking up 878 bags of garbage and litter while walking 1,160 kilometres.
Red Road Lodge
-10 participants employed
-1,500 hours worked
-Participants helped enhance downtown image and cleanliness particularly on Main Street by picking up garbage and litter. Participants also helped run the arts studio and provided administrative support at the front desk.
“These programs continue to contribute to a positive and healthy city,” Grande added. “We are proud to support these deserving organizations again this year, building on the successes established in 2012.”
With $50,000 from Change for the Better, Siloam Mission will continue its Mission: Off the Streets Team (MOST), a program created in 2007 by Siloam Mission and the Downtown BIZ. MOST helps homeless men and women re-enter the workforce, supporting each participant’s growth in the areas of physical resources, financial capacity and stability, health, social and emotional well-being, education and personal spirituality.
“We are so grateful for the ongoing partnership with the Downtown BIZ in helping our employment-training participants move toward more self-sufficient lifestyles. This funding allows us to continue offering trainees the valuable work experience, life skills and training necessary to enter the workforce again,” said Floyd Perras, Executive Director of Siloam Mission.
Red Road Lodge will receive $39,200 from Change for the Better to operate REACH, a program that provides employment, with a focus on community cleanup and beautification. REACH is expected to hire 30 individuals who are homeless, unemployed or currently living on EIA disability, or individuals in recovery from a mental illness or an addiction. The funding will also allow Red Road Lodge to hire their participants to engage in a community art piece that will help animate Main Street and other parts of downtown Winnipeg.
“The Red Road Lodge is excited to expand our community clean-up work placement program to include a social enterprise and training endeavour and an art installation component,” said Beverly Roberts, Executive Director of Red Road Lodge. “The new employment and arts based programs are designed to recruit, employ and engage a broader range of marginalized individuals. Change for the Better funding is making a real difference in the lives of community residents – bringing hope and new opportunities!”
With $15,990 from Change for the Better, Graffiti Art Programming Inc. will begin work on its Youth Leaders Program at their studio located at Portage Place Mall (Studio 393) – engaging at-risk youth aged 13-28, some young mothers and fathers. This project, in particular, will provide the opportunity for youth who have accessed Studio 393 to further develop leadership and employable skills, in conjunction with their arts education. These participants will also be employed by Studio 393 to create meaningful art installations throughout the downtown and will also help enhance downtown image and cleanliness with a graffiti removal program.
“I applaud the Downtown BIZ in recognizing the importance of youth in creating a better, more positive downtown,” said Bob Veruela, Programs Director of Graffiti Art Programming. “Providing employment and a platform for at-risk youth to hone in on their leadership and creative skills is a step in the right direction.”
Donating to Change for the Better can be done 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
Change for the Better helps homeless people get off the street and into permanent paid employment and a healthier environment. Since 1992, over $354,000 has been raised and 100% of all donations go to homeless employment programs (
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For more information, please contact:
Jason Syvixay
Leader, Strategic Initiatives & Public Relations
Tel: (204) 958-4635; Cell: 997-3040