10C is a community hub and shared workspace - founded in 2008 - in Guelph, Ontario, creating a platform for collaborative work to improve communities. People work, meet, eat, create and brainstorm together at 10C.
Mission and Purpose
10C Shared Space and its members seek to inspire people to break new ground through collaborations fuelled by effective relationships, entrepreneurial spirit, and dynamic research.
The purpose of the not-for-profit organization is to spark new ways of imagining, thinking, and working together in order to fuel and create community-driven social change. Co-founders Annie O’Donoghue and Julia Grady stated, “Our goal is for the Guelph and surrounding community to know 10C as a place where information can be found and shared, where people can gather, and someplace great workshops and interesting forums are hosted.”
Origins and Development
10C was launched in 2008 by co-founders Annie O’Donoghue and Julia Grady in Guelph, Ontario. The organization has 10 principles, known as the 10 C’s of the organization. The first 10C location was opened at 10 Carden Street in Guelph after Annie and Julia identified a need for a coworking and collaboration space in the community. They noticed a common problem among grassroot organizations: many small organizations and entrepreneurs were working on similar projects, or setting similar goals without realizing. By creating a shared workspace, such organizations would be able to work together and collaborate in organic and exciting ways.
Since 2008, 10C has expanded from its initial shared working space to a new, larger coworking location now located at 42 Carden Street. It has become a part of numerous social finance and sustainable development community projects and partnerships, and has become a hub for a diverse range of events and gatherings. Currently, there are about 200 members of 10C, with an average (pre-Covid-19) attendance of over 25,000 people at community events and workshops annually.
Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding
The organizational structure of 10C consists of a community of members, an elected Board of Directors, staff team, volunteers and organizational partners and collaborators.
10C has a variety of membership types available for community members working in a social change or social innovation framework. The following are the types of memberships offered:
- Nourish + Organization
10C’s operating budget is derived from multiple sources, such as annual membership fees, coworking and space booking fees, federal, provincial, municipal government and community grants, as well as donations and community bonds.
The City of Guelph and University of Guelph are two of the most consistent and longest-standing partners of 10C, alongside other organizations and individuals.
Specializations, Methods and Tools
10C’s priorities focus on placemaking, community engagement, social enterprise, social finance, sustainable food systems, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (including goals #17 - Partnerships for the Goals, #9 - Industry Innovation and Infrastructure, and #10 - Reduced Inequalities). The organization strives to meet these through a variety of projects and initiatives:
- Nurturing the membership
- Activating spaces for all
- Modelling sustainable practices
- Running, supporting or catalyzing projects
- Coaching and mentoring
- Acting as a learning hub
- Networking, connecting, convening and engaging
- Imagining and leveraging investment in a visionary way
- Helping people see and find solutions
- Acting as a home for community-based research
Major Projects and Events
In addition to community events including workshops and forums, 10C has initiated two major social finance projects. The first is the organization’s Community Bonds Project. Through community bonds - a debt financing tool - the organization took loans from community members and invested in real estate, which now serve as the shared spaces/coworking hubs.
The second social finance project is 10C’s Harvest Impact Fund. This project builds upon the 10C social finance journey, to provide friendly lending in the form of loans and mentorship to businesses and nonprofits looking to make positive social change. Harvest Impact seeks to work together to use social financing as a tool to create meaningful opportunities in the community to increase social, political, and economic agency for all. Harvest Impact strives to better understand the unique experiences of those whom they work with and the systemic barriers they face when attempting to access funding and business support.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Without a model for how this has been done before, creating a space for change in the Guelph community posed many challenges as a first-time venture, an example of which include establishing an organization that simultaneously worked on various other community projects. The founders and staff members of 10C had no prior blueprints to follow, support resources available, or similar organizations to consult. As such, Co-founder and Executive Director Julia Grady explains, “[we] want 10C to not only be a blueprint for other individuals and organizations, but also for us to be mentors to future change makers. Our hope is to become a sort of community concierge for change makers.”
Despite the challenges faced, 10C has learned many lessons and the organization has grown tremendously with the support of the Guelph community. As it continues to grow in members, project scope, and initiatives, the organization’s leadership has learned that growth takes time, and the best approach to extension is taking things one step at a time. 10C is now working at supporting other organizations wishing to do similar work in their local communities.
10c. creating space for change. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://10carden.ca/
Learn more about the 10C Community Bonds project - https://participedia.net/case/8148?fbclid=IwAR244oRJkqF3ghqs84DdD_Sbtpy2vkvYTqDguf4HysBlA6oV5To-8xQATyc
Written by Sami Puri as part of McMaster University's Integrated Business and Humanities program in collaboration with 10C.