2023 Upstream Fund recipients

Awareness of Low-Income Voices - $15,000

The Poverty professors

The project goal is to disrupt harmful narratives and stigma around poverty, one story at a time. This project has two streams:

  • Peer support - bringing more people into the conversation to raise awareness of systemic injustices; and
  • Education sessions - to educate individuals in the community about the realities of poverty.

Bridges to Belonging - $100,000

Closing the gap to health and wellbeing

This project promotes health equity, wellbeing and belonging for individuals from racialized and marginalized communities. Funding will support new community partnerships to develop connected, accessible, and culturally relevant services and to develop awareness campaigns to address systemic barriers, promote psychosocial-spiritual wellbeing and empower marginalized communities. Partners include: Muslim Social Services, Kind Minds Family Wellness, and Camino Wellbeing + Mental Health.

Cambridge Food Bank - $50,000

Vibe & Thrive

Funding will support Vibe & Thrive – a transformative initiative for male-identifying youth living in precarious economic situations. Weekly workshops will create positive interactions, and increase skills and confidence.

Canadian Arab Women's Association - $80,000

Strong Families Together

Funding will support the Strong Families Together project that will empower Arab Women with information and resources related to domestic violence, parenting, and family law. The project emerged out of a need for unique programming that is custom-made and delivered in Arabic.

Canadian Aweil Youth Association (CAYA) - $50,000


Funding will support the ACCESS TECH program, which will deliver digital literacy workshops to low-income youth and older adults/guardians to provide basic computer skill education. These workshops will build confidence as participants engage in the education system, seek employment, and connect with loved ones overseas.

Children's Needs Distribution Centre (CNDC) - $20,000

Children's needs distribution program

Funding will support CNDC to continue to supply critical items (including new infant car seats, formula, diapers, children’s clothing, footwear, books and toys) for child safety and healthy child development to families in financial need, free of charge. 

Community Collaborative - $100,000

Creating culturally relevant learning spaces

Funding will support a collective of community organizations working together to provide a holistic approach to belonging by improving access to tutoring and other culturally relevant mental health and wellbeing supports. This will help youth access and utilize tutoring spaces that are culturally appropriate and support them to manage academic expectations and feel more successful in school.

Creative Women's Kitchen - $14,000

Community building

Funding will support community building through the sharing of food and providing healthy meals to isolated singles and seniors. Residents will also have an opportunity to come together in the kitchen and give back to the community.

Crow Shield Lodge - $180,000

Creating healing pathways on the land

Indigenous Peoples in the region require a place where they can reconnect with a sense of identity to heal and thrive. Funding will support Crow Shield Lodge to expand its capacity to offer opportunities to bring about positive change through connecting on the land with community and culture.

Ghanaian Canadian Association of Waterloo Region - $80,000

Youth empowerment through community engagement

Funding will support youth capacity and community building through:

  • Professional skills internship programs;
  • A library that lends multigenerational and cultural material; and
  • Youth engagement through sport.

Hamere-Noah Kidane Mihret Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church - $51,551

Supporting kids and youth

Funding will support youth from across the region to participate in academic tutorials, life mentorships, cultural learnings, networking/companionship events, and philosophical/religious life teachings. Funding will allow access to additional teaching aids and materials to improve learning outcomes for youth.

Hearts Open for Everyone (H.O.P.E.) - $90,000

Building an inclusive Woolwich community together

H.O.P.E. aims to bring awareness and exposure to various cultures within the Woolwich community. Funding will support H.O.P.E to continue with community capacity building through education and intercultural programs and services (e.g. Multicultural Festival of Elmira).

Hope for Community Development - $60,000

Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Support (YEES) program

YEES will work with youth leaders to research, develop, brand and launch a social enterprise that will create employment opportunities for youth, while simultaneously providing organic entrepreneurship training.  

Indigenous Poets Society - $97,500

Indigenous writers and artists circle - centred in and creating voice, culture, community, and connections

Funding supports the Indigenous Poets Society to establish culturally-rooted and community-centred connecting, collaborative spaces and events for Spoken Word, Storytelling, and Art using a "whole-istic" (spiritual, mental, emotional, physical) approach. This will include arts workshops and culture camps to encourage Indigenous writers and artists to support each other and heal our communities.

Interfaith Counselling Centre - $5,350

Wellness in the rural agricultural community

This funding will support AgCulture, an in-person training event for 30 rural-based “helping professionals” in Wilmot and Wellesley townships. AgCulture will resource a variety of professionals who serve the agricultural community to apply culturally competent practical skills as they work with the rural agricultural community.

Islamic Centre of Cambridge - Jami Mosque - $10,000

Feed the Need food program

The Feed the Need food program will be expanded to increase food services for families in need in the Muslim community. Food provided to families each month will consider the dietary needs and restrictions of Muslims.

Kaleidoscope Productions - $57,000

Kaleidoscope Collective

Kaleidoscope Collective is a theatre, music and inter-arts organization with a goal of presenting, creating, and producing meaningful community-based projects. Funding will support capacity building and the completion of a Housing Project proof of concept for two-minute plays.

Kind Minds Family Wellness - $70,560

Capacity building

Funding will support this Black-led not-for-profit organization in the region with capacity building (human resources, financial sustainability, research, and administration).

Levant Canada - $47,240

Supporting refugees and newcomers living with a disability

Funding will support Levant to address the unique needs and challenges faced by disabled refugees and newcomers through language learning, art therapy, and theatre programs, while also fostering social relationships, improving physical health and wellbeing, and promoting cultural integration.

Level Up - $64,657

Expanding the Level Up program

Funding will expand the Level Up program for kids aged 9-12 years. Level Up fosters social engagement, critical thinking and agency through purposeful play to create positive change for social justice.

Living Below the Line - $32,615

Film creation

Funding will support the Living Below the Line group to create a high-quality video of an anti-poverty play that depicts the stories of people living on low income and educates the community about the diverse causes of poverty in the region. Members of the group will tour with the video and take part in a talk-back with audiences after each showing.

Muslim Women of Cambridge - $90,055

Growing organizational capacity

This funding will allow the Muslim Women of Cambridge (MWC) to hire a new operations manager to support and grow organizational capacity for the MWC. This position will help the MWC better meet the increasing need for culturally responsive services in the Cambridge area.

Myron Steinman - $34,283

Initiative for support

Guided by the values of Hope, Choice, Dignity, Mutuality, Learning, and Justice, this funding will support a community capacity building program that will proactively build facilitation and leadership skills among participants living with a low income and recovering with a mental health challenge. The program will enable participants to find and keep meaningful activities, income and/or secure employment.

Nigerians in the Region of Waterloo (NIROW) - $75,400

The AFRO Cultural food bank

This project will provide a cultural food bank that will provide low-income individuals, students, and new Canadians with access to cultural foods to supplement what they can afford at the local grocery stores. Funding will also enhance the organization’s corporate governance structure and position NIROW to do more for the community. 

O:se Kenhionhata:tie - $175,000

Supporting local TwoSpirit IndigiQueer folks and grassroots communities

O:se Kenhionhata:tie  operates year-round programing including hosting sacred bi-weekly fires, full moon ceremonies, elder visits, drum circles, and potlucks for local TwoSpirit IndigiQueer folks and grassroots communities. Funding will support the creation of full-time and part-time positions and will secure an accessible community space in downtown Kitchener.

Period Pin - $8,000

Mapping free menstrual products across Waterloo Region

Period Pin is an online map that will "pin" locations of free menstrual products in the region. Funding will allow for the locations on the map to be expanded to include public libraries, food banks, public health services, schools, religious organizations, and local businesses.  Funding will also support the creation of printed maps and physical stickers to be placed on washroom doors and/or location entrances to identify partner locations.

Porchlight - Counselling and Addiction Services - $35,024

Conversations for Community Care

Porchlight will work with grassroots partners to facilitate five workshops for equity-deserving groups who historically have struggled to access supports in our community. By bringing people who have lived experience and expertise together to share resources, stories, and to participate in art-based learning, Conversations for Community Care will facilitate increased emotional wellbeing for BIPOC, queer, and neurodivergent families in Cambridge and North Dumfries.

Rainbow Coalition of Waterloo Region - $41,385

Supporting sustainability

The Waterloo Region Rainbow Coalition (WRRC) is a volunteer-based community association that acts as a central hub for the local Rainbow community. Funding will solidify the association as a sustainable, effective, and responsive 2SLGBTQIA+ organization that can support the diversification and capacity-building of local grassroots Rainbow Community organizations.

Red Raccoon Bike Rescue - $41,385

Red Raccoon Bike Rescue

This is a group that focuses on building community power and autonomy through bikes. They provide free bike repairs, teach people to repair bikes, provide free kids bikes, low-cost adult bikes, and give access to tools. Funding will expand their capacity and reach to support more communities with more frequency.

Red Sea Eritrean Organization - $5,150

Red Sea soccer team

The Red Sea soccer team is a vital investment in the lives of Black youth from single-mother households living in government housing. Funding will support youth to join the Red Sea soccer team. Participation on the soccer team will help youth overcome challenges, develop essential life skills, and build a brighter future for themselves and their community.

South Sudanese Canadian Association of Waterloo Region & Wellington Region - $50,000

Diversity events and workshop sessions

Funding will support an eight-month program that includes educational workshop sessions and two major events that reflect diversity of the African community. It is about educating African youth and adults in the region on their cultural heritage and other world traditions. 

Sporas Scattered - $4,000

Second annual Palestine Festival

Funding will support the second annual Palestine Festival. The festival serves as a bridge between cultures, encouraging community-building and fostering understanding among marginalized groups. Creating a safer space for Palestinians to represent their identities and stories on their own terms promotes a sense of belonging and acceptance in the community.  

The Eritrean Islamic Community of Waterloo Region - $150,000

Support for the Eritrean community

Eritrean Islamic Community of Waterloo Region offers programs that build community capacity by providing training focused on leadership development, financial literacy, grant writing, job searching, conflict resolution and project management. Funding will strengthen organizational capacity and staffing.

The Redeemed Christian Church of God (Potter's House) Kitchener - $2,850

Royals' Sports Fest

This funding will support the expansion of the Royals’ Sports Fest, an annual sporting event organized by the Young Adult Coordinators at RCCG (Potter's House) that mirrors a Nigerian high school tradition of inter-house sports tournaments. The event is aimed at bringing together young adults, especially newcomers, to promote and foster unity and help build friendships.

The Rohr Chabad Centre for Jewish Life - $23,400

Administrative/strategic management project

Chabad’s mission is to serve and help every member of the Jewish community, based on self-identification and regardless of external affiliation. Funds will support The Rohr Chabad Centre for Jewish Life to modernize and guide long term planning.

Theatre of the Beat - $25,000

I Love You and it Hurts

Funding will support I Love You and it Hurts, produced by Theatre of the Beat in partnership with Women's Crisis Services of Waterloo Region and Assaulted Women's Helpline of Ontario. These three short plays tackle the complex issue of abuse. With the unique format of Forum Theatre, the audience actively participates in shaping the outcomes, creating an immersive experience that sparks dialogue and raises awareness of abuse.

United Quardu Gboni Community of Canada - $50,000

Enhancing leadership skills to better serve the Black community

Funding will support United Quardu Gboni Community of Canada to enhance the leadership skills of over 50 African leaders in Kitchener through a Leadership Development Program to better serve the needs of the Black community. United Quardu Gboni Community of Canada is committed to bringing wisdom to African leaders across Kitchener in online and in-person formats.

Waterloo Region Community Garden Network (WRCGN) - $50,000

Petersburg community garden

The WRCGN works to provide opportunities for people to grow their own food. Producing food is a significant way for families living with a low income to support themselves when food prices are high. Funding will support the sustainability of the Petersburg community garden enabling residents to have equitable access to opportunities to grow and harvest their own food in a sustainable manner.

WeCare Centre - $27,320

Feed the nation

WeCare Center strives to disrupt inter-generational cycles of poverty by providing food and living essentials to community members in need. Funding will support the sorting and distribution of donated items to ensure all community members have access.

White Owl Native Ancestry Association - $103,400

Aandanjige (Changing how we eat)

Aandanjige Cafe and Catering is focused on urban Indigenous food sovereignty in the region. Indigenous Chef Sydney Keedwell will run food programming, including cooking workshops, nutrition education, and skills classes. Funding will support project supplies and finding new ways to create food security through its food share program.


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