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Claire Elizabeth Williams

CEO, Foundations for Social Change

After volunteering with a non-profit organization in India, Claire Elizabeth Williams was compelled to pursue work that would make a real difference at home, in her own community. Returning to Canada in 2015, her passion for social change led to discussions around universal basic income and direct cash transfers for individuals experiencing homelessness — a bold idea that had been studied internationally, but never tried in Canada.  

The next steps? Co-founding the Foundations for Social Change, where Claire is currently the CEO, consulting extensively with experts, and then launching the New Leaf Project in 2018, North America’s first direct giving project with people experiencing homelessness. 

In October, 2020, the results were published — showing that the pilot project’s $7,500 transfer to 50 participants was a key factor in their ability to achieve greater food security, spend fewer days homeless, and access housing faster, improving stability and lowering the risk of trauma. Following Claire’s vision for social change, The New Leaf Project showcased the importance of meaningful and tangible support,  breaking away from traditional models of supporting the homeless and centreing autonomy and dignity at its core.