Awards and judging

$30,000* is available to fund student-community partnerships that result in meaningful impact.

Place-based projects should have an authentic connection to the community in which they are situated:

  • $12,000* is available in awards for projects situated anywhere, and that best exemplify the values, principles and approach to community engagement illustrated in SFU's Strategic Community Engagement Plan
  • An additional $9,000 is available for projects and partnerships situated in Burnaby. 
  • An additional $9,000 is available for projects situated in Surrey ($5,000 of which is for projects crafted to have impact in Surrey Centre, specifically). 

Awards must be used to directly implement your project. Place-based projects should have an authentic connection to the community in which they are situated. All projects should involve equitable collaboration with community partners.


Four awards are available in the 2021 competition for projects working with communities in Surrey. Two awards funded by Blackwood Partners are available to support projects that engage Surrey Centre, specifically: a Grand Award of $3,000, and an Engagement Award of $2,000. Two additional $2,000 Engagement Awards are available to fund projects anywhere in Surrey.


Four awards are available to support projects in communities around the city of Burnaby: one $3,000 Grand award, two $2,000 Engagement Awards, and a third $2,000 Engagement Award specifically for projects designed to implement a free learning event during the 2021 Burnaby Festival of Learning.


After six years of the competition, it has become clear that deep partnership work can happen anywhere. For that reason, $12,000* in additional funding will be made available for any projects that best exemplify the principles and values of community engagement, as detailed in SFU's Strategic Community Engagement Plan, no matter where they are situated. The allocation of this funding will be considered in every round of the competition at the discretion of the panels of judges. Strong proposals will feature evidence of deep collaboration and co-creation with involved community partners.

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 December 4, the idea submissions deemed to be the most promising will be invited to submit a detailed proposal (due January 22, 2020) 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 notified by email, and in most years, representatives are invited to the SFU Surrey President’s Gala where they are recognized for their good work.    

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 the principles and values of community engagement as they are presented in SFU's Strategic Community Engagement Plan. In particular, this competition is designed to encourage co-creative and collaborative work with community partners to inspire community engagement and bring about 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, and that there is a genuine commitment to working collaboratively with a community partner.

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:

Burnaby Festival of Learning Engagement Award ($2,000):

  • Projects must have an event component that can take place during the 2020 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.


* Award amounts subject to change