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Building off the McConnell Foundation’s 80-year history supporting the Canadian post-secondary sector, Re-Code was born in 2014 as a specific program area for the Foundation. The Re-Code program supports universities and colleges to drive positive social impact — both on campus and in the broader community and country. We do this through collaboration across institutions and sectors. By supporting this positive transformation of the post-secondary sector, we envision a more resilient, just, and sustainable world.

Our Goals

Imagine a world where schools are an integral part of their communities, and communities are an integral part of schools. Re-Code’s vision is a Canadian post-secondary sector that ties its success directly to the social, environmental, and economic wellbeing of the communities it is part of.

To turn this vision into reality, Re-Code works with our partners on the following goals:

  1. To increase access to education.
  2. To create curriculum and pathways for Canadians to become lifelong learners and leaders, possessing the confidence and capacity to address challenges facing our world.
  3. To experiment with solutions and collaborations alongside universities and colleges to better respond to community needs.
  4. To link the activities of colleges and universities to pressing social and environmental issues.

Re-Code’s role is to help cultivate an enabling environment for innovation, experimentation, and community engagement. We do this by supporting stakeholder collaboration, identifying and sharing good ideas and practices, and accelerating and scaling initiatives that help schools maximize their benefit to Canadian society.

Our Approach

Our goals represent the systems-level change in culture underway in advanced education. Our role at Re-Code is to accelerate and scale this shift by using principles and practices of social innovation. We support people and organizations to co-create, learn from each other, and address social problems together.

Post-secondary institutions are known for having rich educational and research resources. However, they have additional assets that can also help drive social and economic equality. These include financial, physical, and relational resources. We help identify and share the many ways institutions can capitalize on this social infrastructure.

Collaboration and cooperation lead the path to change. Our efforts focus on supporting stakeholders throughout the post-secondary sector to affect change from their unique position. Stakeholders include those in administration, faculty, current and future students, and member organizations. We work to connect stakeholders, develop partnerships, and share capacity-building tools and resources. We believe that in this way, the sum will be greater than the individual parts.

We launched Re-Code in 2014 with an invitation to Canadian universities and colleges to apply for funding to support campus social innovation and entrepreneurship. Twenty-six schools from across the country joined Re-Code on the journey towards redesigning public education institutions from the inside out. Together, we have experimented, learned, and shared our experiences. In this way, we have amplified the impact of each initiative.

How We Support Change

Re-Code acts in the following roles to uncover and foster fruitful connections that will accelerate reaching our goals.

Capacity Builder

We support the sharing of expertise among schools and partners through online resources, webinars, pan-Canadian challenges, student-led roundtables, and by commissioning research and publications.


We bring people together from across sectors and institutions to learn from each other, break down silos, and jointly think and act critically on how to solve our toughest social problems.

Strategic Learning Partner

We work closely with schools and partners to map current social innovation tools and approaches. We aim to understand best practices and uncover learnings that will contribute to broad institutional change.

Funding Provider

We launched Re-Code in 2014 by granting funds to 26 schools to launch on-campus social innovation and social enterprise initiatives. Learn more about these schools in our Impact section.


The McConnell Foundation’s first foray into social finance was in 2007 with a loan to Quest University. Most recently, we’ve invested in the affordable student housing fund FILE managed by the Fiducie du Chantier de L'Économie Sociale in Québec. We also worked with UBC on a landscape study of the investment readiness of businesses that are emerging from incubators connected to post-secondary institutions (Read report here)