Announcing the MaRS and CIBC Inclusive Design Challenge: Career Advancement Winners

Announcing the MaRS and CIBC Inclusive Design Challenge: Career Advancement Winners

CIBC and MaRS Discovery District are excited to announce the winners of the Inclusive Design Challenge: Career Advancement. The $50,000 grand prize goes to Mississauga, Ont-based Skill Squirrel based for their innovative skills-based marketplace and digital credentialing service that help people along their journey to a satisfying career by having their skills valued and validated.

We are also proud to recognize the runners-up, Jonathon Breen from Breen and Associates Consulting and Leigh Felesky from Fig Daily Media, who will each receive $20,000. In addition, honorable mentions have been awarded to SignAble Vi5ion Inc and Fable Tech Labs Inc., which will receive $5,000 each.

See below and learn how the challenge winners are applying their solutions.



Skill Squirrel (Grand Prize Winner)

Skill Squirrel is cloud community hub software addressing the fragmented nature of workforce development ecosystems by applying skills-based matchmaking to connect marginalized individuals, career development professionals, and employers in a timely and relevant manner for sustainable employment.
Current employment and training options and practices are too rigid to bend to the needs of people with employment challenges, whether it be due to level of academic achievement, location, or physical capability. Skill Squirrel overcomes requirements for specific degrees or concerns about gaps in employment by helping people to utilize their valued and trusted skills as a currency for work.
By enhancing the accessibility of Skill Squirrel’s Skills First workshop series and one-on-one career coaching, for starting a business and career planning, more people with disabilities will have access to knowledge and supports to help them build networks to achieve and manage a satisfying career. In addition, Skills First participants will be eligible to acquire verifiable credentials for improving their chances of securing employment that aligns with their skills and experience.


Jonathon Breen from Breen and Associates Consulting (Runner-up)

Breen & Associates Consulting provides support and creative solutions for organizations that are making efforts to enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities, currently developing an online version of START Model of disability awareness training. Much of today’s research indicates that the attitudes of employers and co-workers contribute significantly to the overall employment success of people with disabilities. Breen and Associates Consulting’s START Model (skills training, awareness, resources & theory) has been shown to bring about measurable change to these attitudes in the workplace. Delivered live through Zoom, this training will provide the same experience as in-person sessions that have proven successful in enhancing workplace attitudes toward employees with disabilities.


Felesky from Fig Daily Media (Runner-up)

FIG Daily is a content agency focused on creating digital storytelling, products and experiences that empower causes, brands and businesses. Their solution for this challenge, Inclusion Inc, is lead by founder Leigh Felesky who will conduct a multi-platform storytelling research project to share stories of people living with disabilities working in a wide range of industries. Rich narratives will provide insight, knowledge and awareness of the barriers and possible solutions to career advancement both at an individual and employer level. The stories, for example, will aim to provide lived experience knowledge and support for people living with disabilities navigating career advancement. At the same time, employers will be called upon to question attitudinal bias and consider a re-think regarding inclusion that could lead to better workplace structures and open support networks.


SignAble Vi5ion (Honorable Mention)

SignAble Vi5ion Inc. helps people who want to become inclusive communicators learn the applied skills needed to embody their role as change-makers by providing tools, teaching, and resources. SignAble Vi5ion Inc.’s allies gain the skills and awareness to make accessibility and inclusion parts of ordinary, everyday life—including in the workplace. Once fellow employees can communicate with Deaf employees, they can learn who they are and see the potential to grow in their careers. SignAble Vi5ion Inc.’s submission was to create an e-learning course called “Sign2Succeed in the Workplace,” which will focus on enhancing the inclusion of Deaf people and others who communicate differently by creating a more sign-friendly workplace. This project will create cmi5 packaged learning modules which we will market to businesses to deploy on their Learning Management Systems (LMS).




Fable Tech Labs Inc. (Honorable Mention)

Fable is the leading digital accessibility platform powered by people with disabilities. Fable helps enterprises build accessible user experiences by engaging people with disabilities throughout the product development cycle – from custom accessibility training to research and testing. Organizations work with Fable to make products more accessible for over the 1 billion people who live with disabilities, and in turn, make products more usable for everyone.

Fable Pathways is a free, accessible, and on-demand skill development program created by people with disabilities, for people with disabilities. Fable’s goal with Pathways is to create the go-to resource for people with disabilities interested in advancing their careers in the tech sector.

Fable Pathways provides new opportunities to people with disabilities to learn the skills they need to advance their careers and excel in the tech sector. From web development to management, Fable Pathways provides training for people with disabilities to meet their employment goals.


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To learn more about the series, visit our homepage here.

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