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ALT/Now: Economic Inequality

The time for new alternatives is now

Program Information

Economic Inequality Framing Workshop


Widening economic inequality is a reality that demands bold alternatives. ALT/Now: Economic Inequality offers entrepreneurs, innovators, community builders and system leaders a unique opportunity to collaborate in bringing about a shift towards an economy that generates opportunities for people across the economic spectrum to prosper.

This ambitious 10-month program provides intensive support to participants in building and testing new solutions through collaborative, hands-on residencies at Banff Centre, intensive coaching and a purpose-built network of expert mentors and advisors.

Residency #1: January 27 - January 31
Residency #2: March 16 - March 20
Residency #3: May 5 - May 9
Summit: September 30 - October 2, 2016

Join ALT/Now: Economic Inequality to:

  • Create sustainable initiatives – market-based and social ventures -- with the potential to address the issue of widening inequality.
  • Become part of a new leadership network that holds the capacity to challenge convention and entrenched systems and create real change.
  • Develop new leadership knowledge and skills through the hands-on experience of creating new solutions.

ALT/Now: Economic Inequality participants will join a cohort ready to rise to the challenge of building an economy that provides opportunities for all Canadians to prosper. You will work together to develop a range of market-based and social venture solutions that challenge the dynamics behind widening economic inequality, and tackle related issues such as mobility, unpredictable income and a squeeze on the middle. The solutions you develop will together point the way to a more inclusive economy.

Through a series of inspirational and practical residencies at Banff Centre, along with work in the context of the challenge you choose to tackle, you will build and test concepts that you believe can play a role in addressing this issue. We will collaborate to frame opportunity areas, strengthen concepts and move your ideas into action. Our tailored program will support you to gain crucial on-the-ground insight, prototype solutions, and access influential networks to take your solutions forward.

No one solution will shift the dynamics behind widening economic inequality on its own. And some of this bold work will fail. But we’re up for the challenge and hope you are too - with close support from our experienced team of faculty, advisors and mentors, together with a wider network of system experts and influencers.

The Challenge

Over the last twenty years the income and wealth of all groups in Canadian society has risen, but those who are well off have experienced greater increases than those in the middle and the bottom. This growing gap between rich and poor is driving an increasingly polarized society, threatening the prospects and wellbeing of Canadians from across the economic spectrum. While policy tools play an important role in determining economic conditions there is a significant opportunity for market-based and social venture solutions to be developed that harness market forces and social innovation to demonstrate practical models for a productive and innovative economy: one that works for all people regardless of their income and wealth.

We’re looking for participants motivated to tackle opportunities to develop market and social solutions within the following themes – we also want to hear from those who see potential for bold solutions in areas not represented here:

  • Rethinking models for housing, land and real estate
  • The squeezed middle and rebuilding a thriving middle class
  • Wealth creation opportunities for all
  • The future of work and good business in a changing economy

Learn more

Who should apply?

Complex problems require bold thinking, collaborative innovation across sectors and disciplines, and the drive to see our work through to create deep, lasting impact. ALT/Now: Economic Inequality is looking for entrepreneurs, innovators, community builders and system leaders who embrace this challenge and seek to expand their own development in the process.

If selected, you will be part of a cohort of 25 high-caliber participants chosen for their diversity of skills and perspectives, their commitment to this challenge, and their willingness to question assumptions about the current system. You should be ready to take on the challenge of leading the development of new social and market-based ventures and initiatives.

Applications from individuals or those representing a team are eligible. The intention is that participants engage team members and sponsors from within their own networks as they progress, some of whom will be invited to join program workshops.

Your commitment

We are seeking participants ready to work intensively on something that matters and follow ideas through to implementation. The ALT/Now: Economic Inequality program includes three residencies of 4-4.5 days each at Banff Centre between January and October 2016. As much of the real work happens in-context, you should be ready to commit a minimum of 4 days a month between residencies.

All accommodation, food, coaching and support are provided as part of your experience. Participants are asked to make a nominal financial contribution of $500 and to cover your travel expenses to and from Banff for Residencies. If this represents a significant barrier to your participation please contact us about bursary support.

Application Process

We welcome both direct applications as well as nominations for participants for this program. For information on the application and nomination process, please refer to the 'How to Apply' section.

About the partnership

ALT/Now: Economic Inequality is a Peter Lougheed Leadership Institute initiative created in partnership with Community Foundations of Canada, the national network for Canada’s 191 community foundations, which help Canadians invest in building strong and resilient places to live, work and play.


The program consists of a series of Residencies and work in-context. 

Each Residency reinforces three interconnected intentions:

  • Innovate for impact - strengthen and accelerate our ability to experiment productively and develop solutions that have real strategic impact on the issue of widening economic inequality

  • System-building - deepen our understanding of what’s needed for solutions to take hold and new ecosystems to form

  • Collective leadership - build a community that amplifies our influence

Residency #1: Wednesday, January 27 - Sunday, January 31

In this first hands-on residency we will:

  • Build our community and understanding of what’s possible together

  • Sharpen our understanding of the dynamics driving widening economic inequality

  • Explore and reframe the challenges we’re addressing

  • Map the broader system and identify opportunities for collaboration across challenge areas

  • Develop leadership capacity and learn practical techniques to deepen our insight into the problem and opportunity in context

With new tools and regular coaching, you will work in or across your community/industry to gain actionable insight into the motivations of those with lived experience of, and investment in, the issue.

Residency #2: Wednesday, March 16 - Sunday, March 20

Working alongside selected system influencers, experts and mentors we will:

  • Share insights to better understand opportunity areas for solutions and their interconnectivity 

  • Develop concepts and identify those with the highest potential for impact

  • Develop practical leadership skills for co-designing solutions with end users, stakeholders and market-makers

With mentorship and regular coaching support, you will apply new techniques to co-design and test promising propositions, begin to form a team needed to take them forward and grow the network of actors and influencers supporting your idea.

Residency #3: Thursday, May 5 - Monday, May 9

In this residency we will convene your expanded team members and ecosystem influencers committed to moving viable propositions forward. We will:

  • Share feedback from work in context to refine or rethink propositions

  • Work with ecosystem influencers to understand what they need to support your progress

  • Identify key questions and assumptions to be tested through prototyping

  • Develop the mindsets and techniques involved in effective prototyping

We will be seeking a network of viable propositions across the cohort to advance in the next phase, and those ideas and teams with the most promise will receive increasing support after the third and final residency.

Demonstrating Potential – May - August 31, 2016 

Teams will be supported by the growing network of fellow entrepreneurs, systems influencers and market-makers to nurture promising concepts and break through system barriers to bring solutions into being. The network may expand to include other teams with existing working models. Other actors, including potential commissioners and funders, will be engaged throughout this process where you, and we, see opportunities for them to strengthen the work being done.

Program resources at this stage will be focused on those teams and propositions with the greatest potential for impact. They will be supported to prototype solutions in context and build partnerships for further development and investment through ongoing coaching, mentoring and active network building. By the end of this phase they will have:

  • Developed a working prototype of the solution

  • Demonstrated potential for impact

  • Developed a sustainable business model and case for further support/investment

Final Leadership Network Summit: Friday, September 30 - Sunday, October 2

All participants return to Banff Centre to experience the powerful leadership network that has been forged over the course of the program and engage with potential allies, commissioners and investors in the ventures that have been developed.



Fees & Financial Assistance

What can you expect to pay*

All accommodation, food, coaching and support are provided as part of your experience. Participants are asked to make a nominal financial contribution of $500 and to cover travel expenses to and from Banff, Alberta for participation in the on-campus components of the program. Bursaries to cover travel and/or the registration fee will be made available to successful applicants for whom those costs pose a barrier to participation.

How to Apply

It is important to be aware of all steps included in submitting your application.
Learn more.


Would you like to nominate an outstanding candidate? We are accepting nominations on an ongoing basis. Once a nomination is submitted through the online form, the nominee will receive an email notification, along with information on how to apply to the program. In the nomination form you will be asked to briefly describe the nominee’s capacity for entrepreneurial-thinking, inclination toward action, motivation to develop system-leadership capability and any unique skills or perspectives that they would bring to the cohort. Applications are due by November 2, 2015.  


Nominate someone now. 


Provide overview of relevant experience and education. 


I want to actively build new solutions to the challenge of widening economic inequality, and:


  • Use my leadership and influence to pave the way for others in my community or sector to take them forward
  • Start a new venture or initiative and lead its implementation
  • See my role as strongest in bringing my skills and knowledge to the process of finding and developing the right solutions. I may join the right team, or mobilize others to take solutions forward
  • Or provide your own response


Please provide a brief letter of recommendation from a colleague or mentor that indicates their support for your selection, the strengths you can bring to this process and areas in which your development could benefit. This recommendation is required of all applicants and to be requested directly via the online application tool SlideRoom. You will be asked to provide the name and contact information, recomenders will then be emailed to provide the letter. You are able to submit your application whilst these letters are outstanding and will receive an email to indicate when the recommender has submitted their letter.

If you have been nominated, you do not need a letter of recommendation. 


Please answer the following questions in the online application portal:


  • Why is this the right time for you to do this? (200 words)
  • This program requires a dedicated time commitment during and between residencies. How are you going to make that time available? (100 words)
  • What specific capabilities, experiences, networks or areas of expertise do you bring that might be valuable to this collaborative effort? (200 words)
  • Tell us about an experience you have had creating something new (500 words)
  • Using the situation described in Q4 or through another example, tell us about how you choose to work with others to make things happen. (500 words)
  • Tell us about a time that you demonstrated tenacity and tolerance for uncertainty or failure in order to meet a challenge. How do you hope to be challenged through this process? (500 words)

In the next three questions you will not be evaluated on depth of knowledge in this subject area - we are interested in learning where your motivation lies and where you can currently see potential. 

  • Describe the opportunity area that you are interested in and how that might impact economic inequality? (500 words)
  • Thinking beyond the duration of the program, what would be the best outcome for you and from the work we do together? (500 words)
  • Putting your professional connection to this challenge aside, what systems are you part of in your personal and daily life that contribute to widening economic inequality and how might things be different to make it possible for you to personally contributes to a positively reinforcing cycle? (500 words)

For some tips on how to answer the questionnaire questions, look at our application companion document.

Contact the Registrar

For questions on preparing your application, please contact the Office of the Registrar: