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Image of a cityscape of Montreal in the winter, taken from out in the water looking into the city

My Year as a McConnell Social Innovation Fellow: lessons I learned and have yet to learn

October 17, 2018

by Jennifer Gammad Lockerby

RECODE Social Innovation Fellow

  What is social innovation, anyway? Social infrastructure? Movement building? Going into my fellowship, these were all questions that I had full confidence I would learn the answers to. I was to support the RECODE program, and my job description included stakeholder engagement, event planning, communications, and programmatic tasks such as report-writing or project management. Easy enough, right? With a strong social justice, community and direct service background, I was excited for this new world of social innovation and philanthropy. In hindsight, however, I was not fully prepared to adjust to the frameworks, tools, relationships, and ways of thinking about social transformation. At the end of my first day of work, McConnell’s Vice President asked me to summarize what I had […]

Catalyst for Sustainability: Social Infrastructure in Action at the University of Winnipeg

October 15, 2018

by Stephen Huddart

President and Chief Executive Officer, The McConnell Foundation

  Through investments in training and innovation, Canada’s universities and colleges anchor the economic livelihood and social wellbeing of communities and our country. In addition to teaching and research, their impact is expressed in the people they hire, the goods and services they purchase and the ways they invest their financial, physical and relational assets. Recognizing their latent capacity to shape better outcomes as economic actors and social innovators, post-secondary institutions are beginning to apply their assets to building “social infrastructure.” The University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corporation (UWCRC) is an outstanding example of a social infrastructure strategy. It comprises investments in urban renewal, post-secondary infrastructure, affordable housing, food services and more. The report Catalyst for Sustainability: The Achievements, Challenges, Lessons and Prospects of […]

New Resource: RECODE and Ashoka Canada 2018 Retreat Report

August 7, 2018

In July 2018, RECODE and Ashoka Canada convened higher ed changemakers from across Canada on Wasan Island in Port Carling, ON. The purpose of the retreat was to build community, take inventory of and celebrate our collective progress, and see how we can advance social impact work. This report contains the key retreat takeaways and next steps, represented through ‘requests’ and ‘commitments’ by individual participants. These requests and commitments include site visits, resource sharing, and future convenings. It also includes actions for building new partnerships that test innovations. Download our retreat report

Why do Canadians need to go all the way to Boston to connect?

May 9, 2018

by Danica Straith (Ashoka Canada), Chad Lubelsky (RECODE), and Jennifer Gammad Lockerby (RECODE)

  Earlier this month, some 800 social impact educators, students and administrators gathered in Boston for the Annual Ashoka U Exchange. United in the belief that post-secondary has been and continues to be a force for positive change in the world, this event showed us how we can accelerate and scale change in post-secondary. Prior to the Exchange, Ashoka and RECODE hosted the 3rd annual “Canada Day” – this pre-event, became an “instant tradition” in 2016, and notwithstanding its short history, participants generally agreed that this year felt different. One of the highlights of Canada Day was the Mennonite Walk (thank you Paul Born!) – a paired walk where participants got some air and got to know each other a bit better […]

Solving the problems of today and tomorrow with social infrastructure

March 27, 2018

by Academica Group

This article was originally posted on the Academica Group website and has been cross-posted here with permission. — Challenges to social cohesion and community wellbeing are on the rise across the world, and governments at every level no longer have the resources they once did to address these challenges. As the forces of globalization squeeze public budgets, many postsecondary institutions also face growing pressure to justify their existence to the communities they serve. But within this challenging environment, Canada’s postsecondary leaders see an opportunity for their institutions to use their capacity and resources to address some of society’s most wicked problems. For Simon Fraser University President Andrew Petter, the current challenge to community wellbeing stems from an urgent need for improved “social […]

The LabWISE Program: A Small Contribution to the Field of Change Labs in Canada

March 19, 2018

by Mark Cabaj

President, From Here to There

Change Labs are becoming an increasingly popular methodology across the world to address complex social, economic and environmental problems. There are scores of labs in Canada tackling food security, early childhood development, energy transition, affordable housing, water management and racism. There are even several more “permanent” lab platforms, such as the MaRS Solution Lab in Toronto, the Government of Alberta’s Co-Lab in Edmonton, and REOS Partners Social Lab group that facilitate lab processes for other groups. While there has been a great deal of experimentation with Labs, the field is still highly emergent. Most practitioners rarely document their approaches, systematically evaluate them, or share their learnings and failures with others. As a result, most Lab facilitators, participants, and those who […]

Campus-Community Collaboration: What can we learn from global post-secondary institutions?

by Jennifer Gammad Lockerby & Assiri Valdes

A collaboration between RECODE and UpSocial With one of the most accessible post-secondary sectors in the world, it comes as no surprise that various Canadian institutions excel at addressing social issues. From social value purchasing, to civic innovation hubs, there are many examples of institutions going beyond the functions of research and teaching by contributing to and collaborating with community. However, this institution-community connection is not yet mainstream in Canada, and scaling innovations can be difficult. Furthermore, social challenges, like refugee crises and food insecurity, permeate borders. As do social innovations. What can Canadian institutions learn and apply from exemplary international institutions? It’s this line of inquiry that led RECODE to partner with UpSocial, a Barcelona-based organization dedicated to implementing […]

RECODE’s Year in Review

January 30, 2018

by Chad Lubelsky

Program Director, RECODE, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

RECODE’s goal is to increase solutions-centred 21st century post-secondary education that enhances community well-being. Our strategy is to amplify and cluster breakthrough innovations.  As a funder, capacity builder and convener, RECODE works with partners to weave social innovation tools and practices into the very fabric of campus and community culture. You can read more about our strategies, activities and aspirations here. So how are we doing? In our 2016 end of year blog post we concluded that while we weren’t sure, we did have confidence that we were asking the right questions and were on the right track. We then set out to create the conditions for social infrastructure to be tangible and actionable on campuses in 2017. Looking back […]

Two workers in 1955 packaging eggs in Forrest Co.Co-op.

Co-operative Education to “Build a Better World”

January 5, 2018

Ever since people have been organising to achieve mutual goals, co-operation has existed. With its roots in combatting inequality and exploitation brought on by the industrial revolution throughout Europe in the the 1700 and 1800s,  the co-operative has come into its own as a recognized legal corporate form, growing to directly employ 250 million people in 2.6 million co-ops worldwide. The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) defines a co-op is defined as “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise”. The emphasis on autonomy and democracy – as well as a focus on members’ needs and not necessarily profits – is what draws many young […]

Building Reconciliation Forum 2017: 3 Lessons Learned

December 11, 2017

Jen Lockerby's headshot

by Jennifer Gammad Lockerby

Social Innovation Fellow, RECODE

At the third annual Building Reconciliation Forum, hosted by the University of Manitoba, Indigenous people and settlers discussed progress, possibilities and challenges for reconciliation in post-secondary education. First, I would like to thank the people who welcomed me, a settler, as a visitor to Treaty One territory. By extension, my understanding of Indigenous issues in Canada is inherently limited as a settler.  As a racialized ally and recent student, however, I believe I can provide valuable insight to fellow settlers working in the post-secondary sector. Here are my three significant takeaways from the Forum (these are my views and not intended to reflect those of the McConnell Foundation!): 1. ‘Indigenizing’ colonial institutions requires decolonization. “Decolonization and indigenization go hand in hand.  […]

Featured Posts

  1. My Year as a McConnell Social Innovation Fellow: lessons I learned and have yet to learn

    by Jennifer Gammad Lockerby

  2. Catalyst for Sustainability: Social Infrastructure in Action at the University of Winnipeg

    by Stephen Huddart

  3. New Resource: RECODE and Ashoka Canada 2018 Retreat Report
  4. Why do Canadians need to go all the way to Boston to connect?

    by Danica Straith (Ashoka Canada), Chad Lubelsky (RECODE), and Jennifer Gammad Lockerby (RECODE)

  5. Solving the problems of today and tomorrow with social infrastructure

    by Academica Group

  6. The LabWISE Program: A Small Contribution to the Field of Change Labs in Canada

    by Mark Cabaj