communityBUILD is an ongoing collaboration between York University, Seneca College, ventureLAB, United Way Toronto and York Region. This collaboration supports a community of mission-driven entrepreneurs focused on addressing major social issues, whether on a local or global scale. Its mission is to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem by addressing important social issues in York Region and beyond.
In October 2016, communityBUILD hosted Blueprint for Affordable Housing at Seneca College, Markham, an annual two-day ‘design lab’ workshop utilizing human-centred design processes to address a social issue affecting York Region. The successful ventures are currently proceeding through a social incubator to help launch their ventures.
“This annual event, Blueprint, is an excellent example of how communityBUILD finds ways to engage social entrepreneurs, including York students, who are focused on addressing major social issues, whether on a local or global scale,” said Robert Haché, York’s vice-president research & innovation.
Participants at the event were presented with affordable housing challenges proposed by three champion organizations and asked to design sustainable solutions to address one of the challenges – this particular year’s challenge being: Explore the current shelter-to-income ratio to determine its applicability and relevance. Is there a more accurate or appropriate measure of affordability that can help guide public policy? The participants were supported by experts in community housing, open data and design thinking. Shelter to Housing Income ratio was only one of the three challenges and was championed by Ontario Ministry of Housing. The other two were Second Suites (championed by Regional Municipality of York) and NIBY-ism (championed by GTA Housing Action Lab).
This event was a very well attended. Forty-one York University students were among the 116 attendees, which included event participants, estimated to be 80 in number; partners; and facilitators.
“This event had several unique features including one of a venture on policy innovation working with Ontario Ministry of Housing – effectively, policy innovation arising from a design jam,” says David Phipps, executive director, research & innovation services, Office of Research Services.
The communityBUILD partners were delighted to be joined by the York Region District School Board, says Phipps. Six YRDSB high school students were among the student entrepreneurs who participated in the Blueprint.
communityBUILD is a unique collaboration that supports a spectrum of young social entrepreneurs from high school to college to university seeking to make a difference to key social issues.