Holding Space: A Community Engagement Toolkit

For 10 years, SFU Public Square has been a keystone initiative of Simon Fraser University’s commitment to community engagement. 

In that time, we have programmed hundreds of engagements between the university and diverse communities, harnessing the energy and knowledge of all involved so we can work towards equitable and sustainable solutions to our world's complex challenges.

To commemorate 10 years of university-community engagement, SFU Public Square is proud to publish Holding Space: A Community Engagement Toolkit. Offering the principles that guide our work and the methods behind what we do, it was designed as a blueprint to support others at post-secondary institutions in developing their own community engagement initiatives. However, its contents should be valuable to any community-serving organization. 

Inside, you will find: 

  • The case for community engagement at post-secondary institutions
  • Practical methods for accessible and inclusive programming and communications
  • Case studies that demonstrate the real-world impact of our collaborations
  • Examples of effective student engagement 
  • A year-by-year continuum of work to help develop a community engagement program 
  • Further resources and more!

Holding Space is the result of a decade of learning in collaboration with our partners within the university and the community. We are incredibly grateful for every opportunity to grow and develop in relationship with others. Interested in working together? Reach out!

Here are some of the principles and methods for community engagement that we discuss in depth in the toolkit:

Principles of community engagement

  • Serving SFU’s academic and research mission
  • Commitment to capacity building
  • Everything in partnership
  • Embedding intersectionality and acknowledging power structures
  • Commitment to reconciliation

Methods of community engagement

  • Accessible and inclusive programming and communications
  • Student engagement
  • Staffing and key roles
  • Evaluating and reporting on impact

This toolkit was made possible with the generous support of the Jarislowsky Foundation.