Awards and judging

This year there is $19,000 in awards to support innovative ideas for student-community engagement, available through three specific community competitions. Two of the competitions are place-based: one will award projects situated in the Central City area of Surrey, while another will support projects located in any of Burnaby’s four town centres: Metrotown, Edmonds, Brentwood and Lougheed. Finally, our newest award competition will focus on projects designed to catalyze meaningful engagement and positive impact with local newcomer and/or refugee communities throughout MetroVancouver and the South Fraser region.

Awards must be used to directly implement your project. Teams will be assessed according to their ideas’ innovation and uniqueness, as well as its community, commercial and socioeconomic significance.

If you believe your project qualifies for all three competitions, you may indicate that when you complete the Idea Submission Form. Please keep in mind that for each competition, you will have to indicate how you are having meaningful local impact with the local respective community (and so to qualify for more than one competition, you will have to cultivate existing or emerging partnerships in each community).


Two awards funded by Blackwood Partners are available to support projects that engage Surrey Centre: a Grand Award of $3,000, and an Engagement Award of $2,000. The City of Surrey has funded an additional award of $2,000 for projects designed to engage Surrey Centre.


Two general awards are available to support projects in communities around the city of Burnaby: a $3,000 Grand award and a $2,000 Engagement. In addition, a $2,000 Engagement award has been added this year for projects designed to implement a free learning event during the 2019 Burnaby Festival of Learning.


New this year, SFU International will be offering a $3,000 Grand Award and a $2,000 Engagement Award for projects designed to have meaningful impact with local newcomer and/or refugee communities. Submissions are welcome from everyone, but preference will be given to teams with student(s) who have lived experience as newcomers to Canada.

Progressive evaluation process

There are three stages of evaluation in the SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition. The first step is getting your team together and submitting an idea (learn more about how it works). Then the evaluation process unfolds like this:

  1. Invitation to submit a detailed proposal. After November 30, the idea submissions deemed to be the most promising will be invited to submit a detailed proposal (due January 14, 2019) for evaluation.
  2. Selection of finalists. A shortlist of teams with the most promising, creative, and feasible detailed proposals will be designated as finalists and invited to present their ideas before a panel of judges.
  3. Selection of winners. Winners will be selected, live, for each available prize at the presentation events    

Evaluation criteria

The selection of finalists and winners of the SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition is guided by a common set of evaluation criteria which reflect SFU’s vision of engaging students, engaging research, and engaging community. In particular, this competition is designed to encourage community-student engagement for meaningful impact.

When considering ideas, it is important that proposals have high potential for making meaningful, positive change within their targeted communities.

Proposals should contain elements of social entrepreneurship, innovation and community-building while including avenues to recognize, celebrate and champion diversity, community service and partnership. They should also be realistic, feasible and achievable, including clear indicators and measurements of impact and/or success. It is critical that proposals be unique and authentically connected to genuine team interest.

Judges look for the following from all submissions:

  • Ideas that are compelling, unique and innovative
  • Plans that will clearly make a positive difference when implemented
  • Proposals that are focused, realistic, feasible and achievable
  • Plans that contain opportunities for community groups and businesses to be involved and participate
  • Genuine enthusiasm for the idea and a commitment to making it a reality
  • Clearly communicated, well-written and well-presented ideas
  • Proposals that include a definitive timeline, an accurate cost structure, and a propensity for success

Additional criteria:

Newcomer and Refugee Engagement (2 awards):

  • Projects must have a clear connection to current and/or significant challenges/opportunities faced by local newcomer and refugee communities
  • Submissions are welcome from everyone, but preference will be given to teams with student(s) who have lived experience as newcomers to Canada

Burnaby Festival of Learning Award (1 award – Burnaby Competition):

  • Projects must have an event component that can take place during the 2019 Burnaby  Festival of Learning (around the second week of May);
  • The project event must take place in Burnaby;
  • The project event must be designed for the community, inclusive, accessible, and safe for the public to enjoy;
  • Projects must benefit the community and encourage community participation and engagement.

Choosing the winning projects

The decision of the selection committee is final. In choosing the award winners of the SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition, all judges read the proposals of all finalists teams in the competition they will be adjudicating.

If, in the opinion of the selection committee, there are no nominees considered suitable for an award, no awards shall be given.