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Centre for Social Innovation

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Founded  2004
Key people  Tonya Surman, CEO
Focus  social innovation, social enterprise, social entrepreneurship
Location  Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The Centre for Social Innovation is a social enterprise based in Toronto, Canada, that specializes in the creation of shared workspaces for people or organizations with a social mission. It has three locations in Toronto, and one in New York City, that serve as shared workspaces, innovation labs and community centers, and where it rents private offices, private desks or shared desks, and meeting and event space, to social innovators and entrepreneurs.


The Centre's mission is to catalyze social innovation and to foster collaboration by connecting social innovators and entrepreneurs working across sectors, and providing them with programming such as workshops, seminars, competitions and mentorship opportunities to accelerate their success. CSI also incubates a limited number of social innovations, providing them with programmatic, strategic, administrative and or financial services.

CSI has also published several books on creating shared workspaces [1] and one on its Community Bond. [2]


The Centre for Social Innovation, was founded in 2004 by Tonya Surman of the Commons Group, Margie Zeidler of Urbanspace Property Group, Mary Rowe of Ideas That Matter, Pat Tobin of Canadian Heritage and Eric Meerkamper of DECODE. Its first location, CSI Spadina, opened in the Robertson Building owned and operated by the Urbanspace Property Group.

In 2010, the Centre for Social Innovation bought a 36,000 sq. ft. building with the help of a financing model called The Community Bond.

In 2012, the Centre for Social Innovation opened CSI Regent Park in the Regent Park neighbourhood, Canada's largest public housing community, currently undergoing Canada’s largest community revitalization.

In 2012, the Centre announced it would open a location in New York City in Manhattan’s Starrett-Lehigh Building. CSI Starrett-Lehigh opened in 2013.

In October 2014, the Centre bought the 64,000 sq. ft. Murray Building, located right across the street from CSI Spadina. The Centre purchased the building with 'community bonds,' which are low-interest loans made by private citizens who agree with the centre’s mission and want to help it expand.


CSI Spadina

CSI Spadina opened in 2004 in the Robertson Building at 215 Spadina Ave. in Toronto, Ontario, a historic warehouse building in Toronto's Chinatown district, owned and operated by the Urbanspace Property Group.

CSI Annex

CSI Annex is located at 720 Bathurst Street in Toronto, Ontario. CSI Annex is the Centre's second location and was financed with the help of community bonds. The Annex location is home to many not-for-profit organizations including Spacing and Cycle Toronto.

CSI Regent Park

In September, 2012, CSI opened a 10,000 sq. ft. location in Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood, on the third floor of the Regent Park Arts & Culture Centre.

CSI Starrett-Lehigh

On July 19, 2012, CSI announced that it would take over 24,000 square feet in the Starrett-Lehigh Building to bring its model to New York City’s social innovators and entrepreneurs. CSI Starrett-Lehigh opened in 2013.


CSI’s 800 member organizations include nonprofits, charities, for-profits, entrepreneurs and activists working in areas from health and education, to arts and the environment.

  • Adam Vaughan
  • Accessibility Ontario
  • Amnesty International
  • Amref Health Africa
  • Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
  • Cycle Toronto
  • Chinese Canadian National Council
  • Free the Children
  • Good Foot Delivery
  • The Green Majority
  • HotDocs
  • Jane's Walk
  • Jayu
  • J.W. McConnell Family Foundation
  • Médecins Sans Frontières
  • The Ontario Non-Profit Network
  • Taste Real
  • TechSoup Global
  • Toronto, Dance!
  • United Way Canada
  • References

    Centre for Social Innovation Wikipedia

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