Simon Fraser University

Simon Fraser University

October 03, 2014 08:53 ET

The Social Innovation Challenge Is Back for a Second Year and Another $25,000 Prize

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Oct. 3, 2014) - The Social Innovation Challenge is once again part of the innovative course offerings of Simon Fraser University's Certificate Program for Community Economic Development (CED).

The Social Innovation Challenge is a "collab-etiton" in which students participate in an experience of rapid prototyping, project design, and community mobilization. Up to 24 students deliver 90-second pitches. Two to three pitches are selected and teams work for two days to complete the projects. At the end of the challenge, the two to three teams share a $25,000 prize-donated by the Dragonfly Fund at Tides Canada*-and use it toward bringing their projects to the next level.

Students in the CED program come from all over-Yukon, Montreal, Barcelona, Alaska, Calgary, Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, and Victoria, to name a few places. They are champions for local living economies and work in social enterprise, non-profits, business associations, credit unions and municipal government. They all share a passion for a new economy-one that values people, places, and the planet.

"Our students are very pragmatic. They want to get at it," says Nicole Chaland, program director. "So I ask, what have you done recently to align your work with your values, sharpen your focus, grow your network, and deepen your impact? What if, in seven months, you could do all this? You can."

The Social Innovation Challenge is a capstone course that demonstrates an alternative to traditional planning processes. Participants draw from concepts and lessons introduced throughout the year to develop projects designed to meet a number of goals, including increasing the number and diversity of locally owned ventures, prioritizing triple bottom-line initiatives, and raising the profile and influence of living local economy leaders.

The 2013/2014 Social Innovation Challenge finalists were:

Courtney Hare (Calgary)-Hare pitched Momentum, a matched-savings program that encourages entrepreneurs to save $70 per month for a year to be matched 3:1. At the end of the 12 months, entrepreneurs would have $3,360 in start-up capital.

Carolyn Davis (Calgary)-Davis pitched for support to launch Calgary's first tool-lending library. Her proposed library already had 50 subscribers and more than 300 supporters.

Lauren Warbeck (Vancouver)-Warbeck of OUR Community Bikes proposed converting its charitable program of free bikes for people who experience systemic exclusion into a more robust program that reaches more users, makes more positive impact, and operates on social innovation and enterprise principles.

Lindsay Lunhau (Calgary)-Lunhau pitched a co-operative to help people age in place. Members are senior homeowners who could gain access to renovation services for 'seniorizing' their home and building a secondary suite.

SFU's CED program aims to empower students to build a sustainable, local economy. The seven-month program consists of short, intensive residencies with lab-style classes, combined with part-time online courses.

"Participants come to our program to get an instant network of exceptional people, students, instructors, and alumni," says Chaland. "There's content and style. We teach students how to design a social-venture ecosystem in their community and how to focus economic development. We give them a framework for building local living economies and a proven model for mobilizing people to take action together and effect change. And we're extraordinarily selective on what we teach, placing equal emphasis on creating an experience for people that allows them to give birth to their own ideas and gain the practical skills to do it."

The next CED cohort starts October 20. Only four spaces remain in the program. Interested applicants will find more details, including admission requirements and course descriptions, at

*Tides Canada is a national charity dedicated to things that matter to Canadians - our people and our planet.

Press release courtesy of The Press Writers

Contact Information

  • Media Contact:
    Nicole Chaland, program director