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December 22, 2022
TORONTO, December 16, 2022 – The Board of Directors of The Upside Foundation of Canada (Upside Foundation) is excited to announce a new Executive Director, Juanita Lee-Garcia, as the organization looks to expand its reach across Canada.
Since 2013 the foundation has enabled founders of early-stage, high-growth and emergent Canadian ventures to weave social responsibility into their businesses, starting with a pledge to the Upside. Pledges are early commitments of 1% equity that are realized at the time of a company’s exit with notable successes from Wattpad, Q4, NeoExchange and LevelJump.
Between 2019-2021 the total giving amount by Canada is estimated to have dropped 12% due to the pandemic, inflation, and other challenges. The nearly $3 million in total donations deployed by the Upside Foundation, with $1.6 million since 2020, mark a significant contribution to the charitable sector, which more and more Canadians are turning to for assistance today.
“The members of Upside are ambitious founders looking to succeed and want to share that success with their larger community. I’m honoured to be part of this vision and to work with our Patrons and supporters who are contributing to build thriving communities across Canada,” said Juanita.
Previously Juanita worked in tech, academia and social impact, most recently overseeing Marketing, Partnerships, and Social Impact at Venture for Canada. Juanita played a crucial role in conceptualizing and leading critical projects with Indigenous partners, launching community programming, leading the organization through a rebrand and securing over $22 million in funding in under five years.
The Board of Directors is grateful for the in-kind support of Matthew Lester at True Search and for his help in the search to fill the role.
"It has been a pleasure supporting the Upside Foundation over the past few years. I love getting the chance to meet passionate founders from all over Canada that makeup Upside's membership, and I always leave feeling excited about the future of Canadian philanthropy. I look forward to seeing how Juanita fosters and engages this incredible community," Matthew Lombardi, Ecosystem Partner, Managing Director, OneEleven.
"Unwrapit's co-founders welcome Juanita Lee-Garcia as the incoming Executive Director of Upside Foundation. She brings a wealth of hands-on experience in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. As a result, she is well positioned to expand the Foundation's work and help educate fellow members on effective strategies for creating an impact through their Upside pledges. For Unwrapit, Upside Foundation represents a bold movement to make Canada's startup community more engaged with social and environmental causes while creating ample opportunities for founders to network with one another and grow their companies," Linsay Moran and Peter Deitz. Upside Member, Co-Founder of Unwrap it.
"By pledging to the Upside Foundation, founders and their employees feel proud of the business they work for and are confident their company is committed to making an impact in the community even at its earliest stages. Juanita plans to help guide technology companies to create a habit of giving - starting with a pledge to our foundation. She has hit the ground running and we will do everything we can to support her," Amy Olah, Upside Board Chair and Managing Director at CIBC Innovation Banking.
“Startup and corporate leaders that think bigger than themselves are going to be the ones that come out on the other side of this economy; this is who Upside members are. The Upside foundation is a community where the triangle of generosity intersects between founders, corporate sponsors, and charities of choice. We hired a leader willing to try, test and iterate and put the Upside Foundation at the centre of the tech stage in Canada with support from smart service providers. Juanita has proven cross-sector experience, and we're looking forward to building the Foundation under her leadership," Eva Lau, Board of Directors at Upside Foundation, Managing Partner and Co-Founder Two Small Fish Ventures.
About The Upside Foundation
Founders of early-stage, high-growth Canadian companies share the upside of their future success by pledging 1% equity to a social impact cause of their choice through the Upside Foundation. A community of like-minded entrepreneurs, Upside members drive success for financial and social returns through the collective value of generosity. Supported by corporate partners from the finance and innovation ecosystem invested in long-term success, Upside fosters the next generation of philanthropy.