Awards and judging

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

  • $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.

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 that is characterized by respect and transparency.


Four awards are available in the 2021-22 competition for projects working with communities in Surrey: A Grand Award of $3,000, and three Engagement Awards of $2,000. 


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 2022 Burnaby Festival of Learning.


Up to $12,000* 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 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 November 26, the idea submissions deemed to be the most promising will be invited to submit a detailed proposal (due January 21, 2022) 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, generally by mid-March.
  4. Winner orientation. Winning teams will be required to attend an orientation meeting to sign the Declaration and Release (detailed in the Rules), to meet each other, to learn how the Office of Community Engagement can support you in your work, and of course, to ask questions.    

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.

Detailed proposals should contain elements of social entrepreneurship, innovation and community-building while including avenues to recognize, celebrate and champion equity, diversity, and inclusion, as well as community collaboration 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.

Take a look at past finalists and award winners to get a sense of the variety of projects that have met these criteria.

Judges look for the following from all submissions:

  • Ideas that are compelling, unique and creative
  • Plans that will clearly make a positive difference when implemented
  • Detailed 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
  • Detailed proposals that include a definitive timeline, an accurate cost structure, and a propensity for success
  • Detailed proposals with clear evidence of work to build a respectful, collaborative relationship with a community partner

Additional criteria:

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

  • Projects must have an event component that can take place during the 2022 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 detailed proposals of all finalist 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.


Hey, students  – Doyou have an idea to ignite change?

Get funded to work together with your community to bring that idea to life? Amazing things happen when people come together (especially when you win up to $3,000* to work with)!

Register today – all you need is your name and a brief description of your idea.


* Award amounts subject to change