Arusha Centre Society

we serve these populations

  • aging population
  • Disabilities
  • homelessness
  • women

we need help with:

  • education
  • employment
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • mental health
  • physical health

Arusha’s core programs, Calgary Dollars, Take Action Grants, and Arusha Climate collaborate with Calgarians of all kinds to advance social and environmental justice. Calgary Dollars blends social and economic benefits for vulnerable Calgarians across communities. Take Action Grants builds capacity and funds for Calgarians who want to take on their first social or environmental project. The Arusha Climate program supports a cohort of learners, each eligible to receive funding for their climate project. This network is integrated with our  agencies role as organizer of the City of Calgary events Earth Hour Unplugged, the Mayor’s Environment Expo, and Energy Efficiency Day.

Carol Sherwood, Arusha’s first staff person recalls “We didn’t start in 1972, but a couple of years before.” Our roots go back to the Calgary and District International Development Society. Staff wanted to incorporate some development education into the publicity for local walks, and devised some innovative programs for young people to learn more about the split between the world’s rich and poor.

  • Arusha takes its name from the Arusha Declaration, a set of principles drafted by the governing party of Tanzania in 1967 as a guide toward economic and social development: Inherent in this Declaration is a rejection of the concept of national grandeur as distinct from the well-being of its citizens, and a rejection, too, of material wealth for its own sake.
  • It is a commitment to the belief that there are more important things in life than the amassing of riches, and that if the pursuit of wealth clashes with things like human dignity and social equality, then the latter will be given priority. – Julius Nyerere, President, Tanzania from The Arusha Declaration , 1967

Activities addressed by Arusha have included film series, discussions, and orientations for Calgarians volunteering overseas.

By the 1990’s, Arusha’s energy was focused on the Committee for Anti-Racist Education, One World Film Festival (that evolved into the Calgary International Film Festival), a resource library, work in schools, and a multitude of workshops and special events. In 1996, The Sustainable Calgary and Calgary Dollars projects emerged from Arusha’s work on sustainable communities. Since then Take Action Grants, a grassroot granting initiative, was created and supported over 100 citizen projects and Open Streets Calgary attends 50 events each year with environmental education using pedal generators, pennyfarthings, and bubblemakers!

In all Arusha’s work, it maintains its commitment to address social, environmental and economic issues in Calgary.

For over forty years, the Arusha Centre has been a meeting place for community enthusiasts and activists working on Calgary’s social and environmental initiatives. The Centre is named after the Arusha Declaration on global and community development announced in the town of Arusha, Tanzania in 1969.

Calgary should not be known only for its wealth and high quality of life. More than ever, Calgary is connecting to urban economic innovation and sustainability. The Arusha Centre is a meeting place for community enthusiasts and agencies working on social, environmental, and economic equity.

Vision  The Arusha Centre inspires and supports communities to connect, gather, and create a socially, economically, and environmentally just future.

Mission  The Arusha Centre is a collectively run, member-supported organisation that provides resources and initiatives on social justice and environmental issues. We help Calgarians through community economic development and community resilience programs and offers varied practical resources, animating activities which educate, inspire and connect with and between people and projects.


Arusha’s programs are inspired by relocalization, the movement to live, shop, and celebrate all things local. Localization increases quality of life, economic stability, and is better for the environment. Arusha is home to Calgary Dollars, Take Action Grants, and Open Streets Calgary and supports numerous other civic inititatives.

  • Calgary Dollars: Neighbours trading with each other to get what they need and get to know each other. Calgary Dollars has added to this goal by creating a digital credit system for community associations, housing agencies, and local business. Instead of moving your money out of town, keep it with small local growing business through C$.
  • Take Action Grants (TAG), in partnership with the Calgary Foundation, grants $2000 amounts each month, half in Calgary Dollars currency and half in federal dollars. A $2000 grant can be made to a group of Calgarians wanting to take action on a social or environmental issue. Since 1998, TAG has funded over 150 projects. An example of a TAG is:
    • A Calgary urban food documentary that educates about the benefits of growing food commercially on Calgarians’ property and making it available using the Community Shared Agriculture model
    • To learn more about the history of TAG, click here.
  • Open Streets Events takes participatory environmental and fitness activities to Calgary companies, festivals and the community. Open Streets Calgary brings a collaboration of cycling, arts, & community groups to Calgary events. Open Streets Calgary is strengthening the impact of its collaborators by promoting their initiatives & campaigns. In one year alone we animated 47 events with 41,000 attendees and directly engaged 3,500 participants.
    • To learn more about Open Streets, click here.


Here are a few options for you to get involved with the Arusha Centre:

  1. Become part of the Calgary Dollars Economy, visit and you’ll receive Calgary Dollars just for getting involved!
  2. Contribute time or money to expand the Take Action Grants program. Each $1000 is matched to double the impact and fund another project!
  3. $2500 sponsorships of Open Streets allows us to attend another event no charge. Events include Bike to School Day, Community Farmers Markets, and festivals.

Are you a Calgary Foundation Fundholder?

Contact Info

Gerald Wheatley




More Info

Charity Number: #132004003RR0001

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