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Trico Changemakers Studio: Bringing Worlds Together

Located in the Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University (MRU), the Trico Changemakers Studio will be a co-working and learning space designed to bring together community members, students, and social ventures who share a passion for innovation, collaboration and bringing big ideas to fruition.[1]  The Studio doesn’t just seek to bring different groups together in its work, its very existence was the result of  a diverse coming together of government (federal and the province of Alberta), a post-secondary institution (MRU), a private company (Trico Homes) and a Foundation (Trico Charitable Foundation).

While the Trico Foundation has a long and rich history of working with MRU, the Studio’s focus of bringing together community members, students, and social ventures to solve social problems was the primary attraction for the Foundation. Dan Overall, Executive Director of the Trico Charitable Foundation, explains:

“The Trico Changemakers Studio is the embodiment of MRU’s aspiration and  efforts to transition from ‘just’ a learning institution to becoming a leader in gathering and engaging students and the community alike to become collaborative changemakers. I cannot think of a surer path to solving the social challenges the world faces. To quote the great Maya Angelou: “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”

The Foundation draws heavily on Maya Angelou’s inspiration for changemaking and coming together. At the recent presentation of its 2017 Social EnterPrize Award, it played this Skoll World Forum production of her poem, “Still I Rise”.

Of course, bringing a wide range of stakeholders together can be challenging. That said, even though each participant may have a different perspective, the language of changemaking may be more similar than we originally thought. Faculty of Arts student, social entrepreneur, and Trico Foundation Summer Student Alexandra Daignault comments:

“I didn’t know that social entrepreneurship and innovation are really about embodying a mindset of mindfulness, taking steps to address the gaps we see and experience in systems. I didn’t realize that social entrepreneur and social activist are really just two sides of the same coin, within the multidisciplinary language of changemaking.[2]

Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defense, describes the ultimate goals of the Studio:

“This historic investment by the Government of Canada is a down payment on the government’s vision to position Canada as a global centre for innovation. That means making Canada a world leader in turning ideas into solutions, science into technologies, skills into middle-class jobs and start-up companies into global successes.”[3]


Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education (Alberta); Alexandra Daignault, student; Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and MP for Calgary Centre; Paul Rossmann, Vice-President, University Advancement; Wayne Chiu, CEO of Trico Homes.


As such, in addition to everything else it is, the Trico Changemakers Studio is one more example of how YYC continues to grow as a social entrepreneurship hub. “The TRICO name is an acronym for Trust, Respect, Integrity, Community and Opportunity and the Changemakers Studio brings these core values to life.  Calgary deserves to be known as the Innovation hub for Western Canada and creating these types of supported incubation spaces are critical to our city’s effort to diversify the economy”, says Wanda Palmer, VP Marketing of Trico Homes.[4]

Since its formal announcement on April 27th, 2017, the Studio has continued to gain momentum, first with the MRU Ashoka designation and then with the appointment of the Studio’s Executive Director, Jill Andres. Jill is a Calgary-based, certified executive coach and facilitator and is well-known to many on the MRU campus for having led MRU’s successful effort to achieve the Ashoka U Changemaker Campus designation – the leading designation for social innovation in higher education. To read more of Jill’s bio and to reach out to her, please click here: Congratulations to Jill Andres as the Director of the Trico Changemakers Studio!


About the Trico Charitable Foundation:

Established in 2008, the Trico Charitable Foundation seeks to close gaps in society by provoking innovation and building capacity in social entrepreneurship. Its work focuses on the Canadian context through four key areas of focus: 1) local capacity building tools and funding for non-profit social enterprises in Alberta, Canada; 2) a biennial Social EnterPrize which celebrates mature Canadian social enterprises (for profit and not-for profit) and commissions case studies on the recipients; 3) The World of Social Entrepreneurship, an annual Calgary event in partnership with the local community that brings some of the best and brightest examples of social entrepreneurship from around the world to Calgary; and 4) working with the JW McConnell Family Foundation on RECODE, an effort to nurture social innovation and social entrepreneurship in Canada’s post-secondary institutions.





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