Social Impact in 2017: Canada Learning Code, Mealshare, Benevity and Upside Foundation

There’s a new dawn breaking when it comes to social revolution. Equality and the overall improvement of our society and world are taking center stage across many industries. It’s a wondrously beautiful change.

The Canadian Innovation Awards’ Social Impact category aims to recognize more than just intent or positivity-persuading press releases. These are companies that genuinely push forward and make strides for social change.


A lot of people in the twenty-first century eventually reach a point in their life where a decision needs to be made; pursue cause, or pay your bills. Profit or Purpose, as it’s usually referred to.

Benevity states that it is an “and” instead of an “or,” which led CEO and founder Bryan de Lottinville to create a system that helps companies accomplish social-good without the need for any sort of B-Corporation—a common term used to describe run-off corporations whose total goal is charitable, or nonprofit.

“Our moonshot is global goodness” reads Benevity’s site. But what does that mean as the company looks to continue setting new standards in connecting people to causes they are passionate about?

“Goodness—combined with great technology—has a transformative power that enables businesses to truly engage with their people, unify company culture across a global context, connect corporate values with communities in need and generate measurable business results.”

With products ranging from Workplace Giving (giving benefit, employee matching, sparking desire to engage and feel empowered to affect change) to Grants Management (a system designed to develop and execute integrated strategy for grant-making, employee giving, and volunteering), Benevity offers a full suite of options to assist in reshaping your companies impact on the world around it, and the employees within it.

A great example of this is Benevity’s #GivingTuesday campaign which has increased employee participation in charitable actions by 271 per cent. Another example is their platform to help increase Human Rights, and Refugee Causes from corporations nearly 40-fold following the Travel Ban in the United States.

In 2017, Benevity placed tenth on the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 companies list with a four-year growth rate of 5,411 per cent. The high placement proves that strength in social responsibility is a crucial part of growth trends in Canadian start-ups.

Canada Learning Code

Technology jobs are a large part of the future—”learn to code and you’ll be employed for the rest of your life,” said Chamath Palihapitiya, an esteemed software engineer turned venture capitalist.

Canada Learning Code (CLC) strives to not only assert the need for a coding education in Canada, but also aim their programs at underrepresented populations; namely women, girls, people with disabilities, Indigenous youth, and newcomers.

“As Canada Learning Code, we place special emphasis on reaching communities—including women—who are under-represented in the tech community. We believe technical skills are a tool of empowerment, and it’s our mission to ensure that all Canadians have access to learn these critical skills and be active participants in the digital age.”

Boasting numbers north of 80,000 students along with 97 per cent of the organization’s adult learners identifying as women, Canada Learning Code is maximizing their impact on the Canadian technology sector. CLC also hosts large groups, meet-ups, and boot camps like the rising Ladies Learning Code (along with groups for Girls, Kids, Teens, and Teachers).

Canada Learning Code had a marquee 2017, celebrating the country’s 150 year-anniversary by holding hundreds of events across 13 provinces. This, after a partnership with Microsoft in 2015, and the launch of their #CodeMobile in ’06.


One in four kids are malnourished in Canada, and Mealshare aims to abolish hunger, one meal at a time.

“We don’t think it’s acceptable … but 15 years ago it was one in three! So we’re moving in the right direction.”

In their search to feed the hungry, Mealshare has partnered with over 340 restaurants across Canada, and when one of their “Mealshare Items” is purchased by someone with the means to afford said meal, the organization will provide a meal to a youth in need.

It’s as simple as ordering a Mealshare-branded item. Mealshare then sends the money to one of their partner charities that has the resources to purchase groceries for meals and donates that food to those less fortunate.

“When we were kids, our grandparents would always scold us and tell us to finish our food because there are starving kids in Africa.” shared Andrew Hall, Mealshare co-founder. “Well, when we’re all grandparents, it’s our dream to tell our grandchildren about youth hunger, too—and how it used to be a problem and isn’t anymore.”

In 2017, founders Hall and Jeremy Bryant received the prestigious Meritorious Service Decoration from the Governer General of Canada. An astounding accomplishment to receive on their journey to dissolve hunger issues facing our youth.

Upside Foundation


Cash isn’t always an option, and this places blockers for most companies looking to give back, or provide for social change in the world. What Upside Foundation discovered—back in 2012, when they were founded—is that start-ups and “high-growth” have potential funds they can donate, simply with a pledge.

What does a company on the brink of major success have to offer charity? Options and stocks, in lieu of cash. Convertible to equity, Upside takes stock options in early-stage companies, and subsequently sells the options for cash upon a liquidity event, giving money made to charities across Canada. Charities chosen by the company in question.

“We understand that cash is scarce, as is time, so the Upside Foundation makes charitable giving quick, easy and cash-free.”

Now, with a majority of start-ups led by a younger movement, companies take their corporate social responsibility very seriously, and Upside helps share the enormity of their eventual success. As a glorious addition, donating companies are also provided with Upside’s vast connections to venture capitalists, angel investing, or incubation communities.

In 2017, Upside Foundation partnered with tech companies across the country to help raise upwards of $25 Million dollars for SickKids hospital along with reaching an amazing milestone of 100 pledged companies.

Choose Your Favourite

Which of these deserving, progressively charitable companies do you believe should win the 2017 Canadian Innovation Awards Social Impact category? Make sure you vote for your favourites before February 2 at midnight to have your say in which companies should win in their respective categories.

The winners will be announced at a live gala on February 22 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.