How it works

Register and assemble your team.

Deadline: Friday, November 24, 2023

Teams can have from 1 to 5 students (for exact team requirements, see the Rules). 

Everyone on your team must register for the competition by Friday, November 24, 2023.

When your team is ready, your team captain will complete Step 2 and submit your team’s idea.

Now it’s time to dream! What will you do? Which organization in your community do you want to work with? Write things down and don’t worry how crazy they sound (the more you write, the more you can sift the good from the bad). You might want to look at step 2 to get some ideas for what you’ll have to submit.

Submit your idea.

Deadline: Friday, November 24, 2023

Work with your team to craft your answers to the questions on the idea submission form. When you’re ready, your team captain will fill complete and submit the idea submission form online.

These are the questions on the form:

  1. Briefly describe your idea, outline its goals, and describe how it will enable you to work together with community partners towards innovative and meaningful impact.
  2. If successful, what outcomes and/or impacts will your target community realize by doing this project with you?
  3. What motivated your team to enter the SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition?
  4. Where will your project take place, and how is your project specifically suited to that community?
  5. Are you competing for the Burnaby Festival of Learning Award?
  6. (If you answer “yes” to question 5.) Please describe the event/experience you’d host for the 2024 Burnaby Festival of Learning.

Make sure your team captain submits your idea before the deadline: Friday, November 24, 2023 (the same as the deadline to register for the competition).

Note: if your team submits more than one “version” of the same idea, we reserve the right to choose which one we will evaluate. And remember – your ability to stay organized will say something about how viable your project is, so please attend to your idea submission with the care it deserves!

Has everyone registered? This is a good time to double check that everyone on your project team has registered individually using the registration form. You can submit your idea before everyone registers, but everyone on your team must be registered by Friday, November 24, 2023 in order to be eligible to participate.

Once the Step 2 deadline has passed, all idea submissions will be reviewed by an internal team of jurors. If your idea is among the most promising and in the best spirit of this competition, you will be contacted in mid-December and invited to submit a detailed proposal (Step 3).

We will try to provide feedback to those teams who are not invited to continue in the competition. If your team does not advance, please don’t let that discourage you – after all, we can’t accept every proposal (even if we might want to!). Consider how you might move forward outside the competition, if you are inspired to. And you can always submit again next year!

Submit a detailed proposal.

Deadline: Monday, January 22, 2024

Now it’s time to get into the details. Teams will be notified of their results by early-to-mid-December. Successful teams will be invited to submit a 3-page detailed proposal. Specific requirements for the detailed proposal will be provided in the invitation.

Detailed proposals are due by midnight, Pacific Time, Monday, January 22, 2024. That will give your team about 5-6 weeks to prepare it.

Detailed proposals should convey your ideas clearly and demonstrate that your plans and ideas have been thought through well. Above all, your detailed proposal must reflect the intention and spirit of this competition and should clearly demonstrate that you have initiated a collaborative relationship with a partner in the community (hint: reach out to prospective partners early).

You may want to start preparing this material with your team well before your initial idea submission is evaluated. Consider the evaluation criteria for project selection, consider past finalists, and think about the kinds of things you’ll need (and what you'll need to know) to both implement your project and evaluate its impact.

We try to notify teams about their results within two weeks of the detailed proposal deadline.

Present your idea to a panel of judges.

Deadline: Mid-to-late February 2024

Teams that advance to Step 4 are considered “finalist” teams. Finalists will be invited to select a time to present their project to a panel of judges in mid-to-late February 2024. This panel may include SFU faculty, SFU students, competition sponsors, or community partners. Winners will be determined after all teams have presented.

Winners will be determined as quickly as possible after all teams have presented, and all teams will be notified about their result.

Whether you win an award or not, every SFU student on a finalist team will qualify for credit on the SFU Co-Curricular Record. Taking an idea from dream to presentation takes a lot of work, and you deserve recognition for it.

And remember, whether you win funding or not, you will have made connections with community partners and others who could help you develop your ideas even further.

Here’s where the magic happens

Working with your community partners, you engage in the wonderful, messy, magical process of co-creating projects that strive for meaningful impact.


This might take a month. This might take a year. Building strong, reciprocal relationships with your teammates and partners will help you respond to any challenges.

Don’t take our word for it – read about it here, and here.

Share your story and reflect on the process.

Timing: September 2024

Part of good community engagement is “closing the loop” with your funders (and your partners!), so a condition of accepting an award is the creation of a Project End Report. Not only does a report help us understand what you did and how it worked, but your reflections might also help future teams.

To support you in thinking about your project, we will reach out to you periodically with opportunities to reflect on how your projects and partnerships are progressing. If you’re willing, we may be able to publish your reflections on our website. Check out what other finalists have reflected on – you might pick up some valuable wisdom!

We look forward to reading through your creative and inspiring ideas for community impact! Good luck to all participants!


So... What would you  do with $3,000?

Up to $30,000* is available to fund SFU students who want to work with community partners to create meaningful impact.

Maybe you’re working on an existing idea for a class you’re taking, through a student club or another organization, or maybe you just have an amazing idea that keeps you up at night.... Whatever it is, we want to hear from you!

Start the process now by registering today – all you need is your passion and an idea. 


* Award amounts subject to change