Meet the $20,000 SFU CED Social Innovation Challenge Winners

May 27, 2016

Social Innovation Challenge WinnersMay 2-6 was the final week of the 2015/2016 SFU CED program and we ended with a bang!

Students pitched their social impact ideas for a total prize pool of $20,000 for the Social Innovation Challenge, an exciting part of the SFU Certificate Program for Community Economic Development over the past three years.

The challenge is a “collab-etiton” in which students collaborate on rapid prototyping and project design. 14 students pitched project ideas, and then the students spent two days working together on improving and refining their ideas, choosing the top five to pitch to a panel of judges.

Our Social Innovation winners were:

Donna McBride for her project the Third Wheel.

Donna is director of operations at Momentum in Calgary, a CED organization offering programming in the areas of business development, skills training and financial literacy.

Donna has three sons, one of whom has cerebral palsy. She has spent much of her life helping her son live his best life, and believes that everyone can succeed if given the right tools and supports.

The Third Wheel is a new business Donna is launching with two community members who use wheelchairs, which will offer emergency wheelchair repair services evenings, weekends and holidays.

There are currently no repair services available outside of normal business hours to the thousands of Calgarians who use some form of mobility aid. By providing an emergency service in the off-hours, we will lessen the amount of down-time experienced by people with disabilities when their equipment breaks down. Since the company will be operated by people with disabilities, we’re also creating employment opportunities for people who may have been challenged to find suitable work in the mainstream workforce.

The Third Wheel won $10K which will go toward the first year costs of a van and modifications so that we can begin offering our mobile repair service.

“The SFU CED program gave me the impetus and the tools to take action toward solving this problem in Calgary. Being surrounded by like-minded learners and supported by the experience that everyone brings to the table was exactly what I needed to move forward.”

diandra oliverDiandra Oliver for the Home Sweet Home Field School

Diandra is a writer, feminist, and community-developer from northern B.C. who co-founded Home Sweet Home with Laura Sapergia. Home Sweet Home is a community-funded economic project that has worked since 2012 to diversify the Northern B.C. food system, primarily in our community of Prince George.

Diandra pitched a summer tour iteration of the HSH Field School, a multi-day, multi-platform learning opportunity for northern B.C communities to easily address gaps and challenges in their local food systems.

The HSH Field School is delivered with a keen eye on ensuring long-term and important community impacts. We will work directly with community partners to identify short and long-term goals, areas of strength, and possible opportunities for improvement, inspiring a deep-rooted commitment to and ownership of the local food economy. The field school will also deliver hard skills (marketing, business development, advocacy, conflict resolution) and opportunities for celebration.

Diandra was awarded $5000 to kick off the Field School tour this summer.

“Most northern communities have no resources or infrastructure to deliver sustainable and strong food projects. Most municipalities have bylaws that restrict food production or businesses. Participating in the CED program has given me the tools to do more than just call out the injustices, but to support communities to work together to rebuild their own economy, one table at a time.”

Jessica Matthies VergataJessica Matthies Vergata for the Calgary Kitchen Library

Jessica Matthies Vergata has a Calgary business called Preserve Foodskills, a culinary education centre with a strong focus on heritage skills like canning, brewing, meat-curing, and fermenting. Preserve Foodskills also offers a product line in partnership with a local urban agriculture CSA program, and is working to develop a food hub in Calgary with other local businesses and organizations.

Calgary Kitchen LibraryJessica pitched the Calgary Kitchen Library. It is a kitchen-equipment lending program, where any member of the public can become a member and borrow equipment for up to one week at a time. The Calgary Kitchen Library mitigates barriers to cooking by making kitchen equipment accessible for anyone who either can’t afford to purchase or store equipment, or for anyone who wants to exit the cycle of constantly needing to purchase things and the inevitable waste that follows.

Jessica was awarded $3000 towards some of the startup costs, such as marketing, supplementing inventory, and wages for a part-time employee.

“The SFU CED program has definitely created the fertile ground for this project to arise by attracting an amazing cohort of students. Without the connections made within this program, the Calgary Kitchen Library would not have had enough support within the community to go forward.”

eric burtonEric Burton for his proposal to create a comprehensive community economic development certification program.

Eric Burton Ec. D, is co-founder of Factor 5 Group, a social enterprise focused on co-creating sustainable communities through economic development expertise and service.

Eric pitched a comprehensive community economic development certification program that will establish community economic development standards to guide practitioners, organizations, communities and governments in achieving sustainable community economic development.

Eric was awarded $2000 towards going to Montreal for the CCEDNet Conference ECONOUS2016 in May, and starting to pull sopme people together to start this discussion.

“The SFU CED program provided the knowledge and framework to develop innovative concepts that are central to co-creating sustainable communities. As a result, we have been able to refine our core ideas and move them from concept through to planning and implementation. Most importantly, it established a peer network of friends, partners and colleagues that we have come to trust and respect thanks to their rigorous constructive feedback and creative insight.”

With thanks to the Dragonfly Fund at Tides Canada for funding this challenge.

Students in the CED program come from all over Canada. 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.

Applications for the 2016/2017 SFU Certificate Program for Community Economic Development are now open. To find out more, visit


SFU CED Program

The SFU Certificate Program for Community Economic Development is a hands-on professional development program for people who are working on making change in their communities. Every year, the program has a wide mix of students from across B.C. and Alberta. Community builders, social workers, social entrepreneurs, community economic developers and others work together on real problems and business ideas they are working on in their communities.

The program is part-time, delivered mostly online over eight months, with two one-week residencies in Vancouver in October and May.