Awards and judging

Up to $30,000* in awards is available 

Typically, 3-4 Grand Awards of $3,000 are available each year, along with several more Engagement Awards of $2,000. Judges have the right not to issue awards up to the full amount if there are not enough projects that meet the evaluation criteria.

All award funds must be used exclusively to implement your project.

Because community engagement happens everywhere, there are no longer any location requirements for most awards in the competition. Your project should best exemplify the values, principles and approach to community engagement illustrated in SFU's Strategic Community Engagement Plan, and should advance a priority area of What’s Next?: The SFU Strategy

*Award amounts subject to change.

Special Awards for 2023-24

1. Burnaby Festival of Learning Award ($2,000)

One $2,000 Engagement Award will be specifically awarded to a project designed to implement a community learning event during the 2024 Burnaby Festival of Learning. Teams hoping to compete for this award should clearly detail how they will host such an event. Please see “Evaluation Criteria”, below, for more details.

Progressive evaluation process

There are three stages of evaluation in the SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition. Then the evaluation process unfolds like this:

  1. Evaluating your idea. The first steps of the competition involve getting your team together (Step 1) and submitting an idea (Step 2 – learn more about how it works). Teams with ideas that show the most promise will be invited to submit a detailed proposal (Step 3).
  2. Evaluating your detailed proposal. Judges at this stage look for feasibility (is this realistic?) as well as evidence that you are actively collaborating (or at least communicating) with a partner in the community (usually an organization, but sometimes a key individual or group). 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. Evaluating your presentation. Presentations occur over Zoom in mid-to-late February. Teams will be assigned a presentation time (we do our best to accommodate preferences) where you will give a short presentation (7 minutes) followed by some time to answer questions from the judging panel.

    Winning teams are selected promptly after all presentations have been given, and all teams are notified of their results. Winners will notified by email, generally by mid-March. (Cheques typically become available by the end of March.)

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. Winning teams can expect award funds to be available in early April.   

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, the competition is designed to encourage co-creative and collaborative work with community partners, to inspire community engagement, and to bring about meaningful impact.

Strong proposals will feature evidence of deep collaboration and co-creation with involved community partners.

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 to 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 that have a good chance of succeeding
  • detailed proposals with clear evidence of work to build a respectful, collaborative relationship with a community partner

Special Award Additional criteria:

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

  • Projects must have an event component that can take place during the 2024 Burnaby Festival of Learning (April 26–30, 2024).
  • The project event must take place in Burnaby.
  • The project event must be designed for the community – it must be 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 selection committee reads the detailed proposals of all finalist teams in the competition.

The decision of the selection committee is final.

If the selection committee decides that there are no projects suitable for an award, no awards shall be given.


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