< Back to Profiles

Social Innovation Projects (SIPs)

Social Innovation Projects (SIPs), pair a team of student volunteers with a community organization over a 16-week period to utilize design thinking as a strategy to explore challenges the organizations face and to create achievable solutions. SIPs encourage students, staff, faculty and the community to use a growth mindset throughout the program to overcome obstacles and reach success. Each group is assigned a faculty expert to provide guidance and resources throughout the project.

SIP students


Centre for Student Engagement (CSE), University of Toronto Mississauga

Instructor / Program Coordinator

Alysha Ferguson, Manager, Community Engaged Learning, Centre for Student Engagement (CSE), University of Toronto Mississauga


Co-Curricular Community-Engaged Learning; Community-Based Project, Placement, or Partnership

Information for Interested Students

Visit the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Centre for Student Engagement page to learn more about Social Innovation Projects.

Benefits to Students

By participating in Social Innovation Projects, students work on real-world challenges faced by organizations. Throughout the project, students have the chance to work alongside peers to research, utilize a design thinking model and create solutions and present to the organizations Board of Directors, gaining valuable presentation and project management skills.

Benefits to External Partners and the Community

By co-creating Social Innovation Projects, community organizations gain a team of students to work alongside their staff to create long term solutions and bring ideas from the organization to fruition. Community organizations receive funding within the project to pilot, launch or create an initial design of the project as a trial for the members of the community they serve and to explore success for future funding opportunities.

Benefits to the University

The Social Innovation Projects have allowed the Centre for Student Engagement to develop a long-term project for students to participate in a research-based program, bringing their curricular lens to co-curricular programs for the community. By providing funding to the pilot of each project, the office has been able to co-launch initiatives in the community and build new partnerships.

Advice for Faculty and Staff Interested in Creating a Similar Experiential Learning Opportunity

To develop these projects, staff and faculty should work in partnership with the community to identify the unique projects students can work on to make an impact. It is important for all participants to have a clear set of boundaries of what is required in the projects, and what is outside how students can contribute to ensure goals are met and intellectual property is clear.