Sheridan SDG Hackathon participant

Sheridan College Published: September 11, 2020
Oakville, Brampton, Mississauga, Remote, Ontario
Internship Type
Salary range
Special initiative - Maximum of $750 per participant as per the guidelines
Hours per week
Start Date
End Date


Addressing the ambitious goals of the UN SDGs requires engagement and mobilization of youth/students and communities in collaborative, innovative and impactful ways. As a regional hub dedicated to fostering social impact leaders, Sheridan is in a unique position to launch an inaugural SDG Hackathon weekend as a community driven, human-centred design approach that inspires collaborative solutions with potential to implement and scale. Student teams will collaborate with internal and external stakeholders to frame and research the challenge based on the SDGs, generate ideas, and prototype solutions. Solutions will be presented in a final pitch competition. Winning team(s) will be awarded an honorarium.

We are applying for $10,000 that would be used for this skills-based special initiative. The funding would cover up to a maximum of $750 per youth for prize/participating fees of participating youth. Participants will meet all qualifications as outlined in the on-line guidelines.

The hackathon challenge will explicitly advance three or more SDGs that are aligned with Sheridan’s Strategic Plan Galvanizing Education for a Complex World.

The proposed hackathon will support and enhance Sheridan’s current efforts to build awareness and implementation of the Goals. As outlined in the section below on existing work that Sheridan is doing to advance Canada’s 2030 SDG Agenda, we have been very active over the past year in building a base capacity.  The proposed initiative will provide benefits to the institution, participants, and our external community collaborators as a means to:

  • Further advance internal (students, faculty, staff) and external community awareness and implementation of the SDGs as a framework for development aligned with Sheridan’s Strategic Plan
  • Leverage Sheridan’s strength as a regional hub to engage communities in advancing SDGs at a localized level
  • Contribute to a global network of change agents who are determined to contribute to the UN SDGs, share experiences, and create impact locally and globally
  • Demonstrate Sheridan’s impact to funders for future new funding streams
  • Foster collaboration with a community of passionate changemakers and impact leaders across sectors (government, non-profit/charities, social enterprises, impact driven corporations) to help develop ideas and solutions that address important sustainability challenges in the region and beyond.

The hackathon will advance three or more of the following SDGs which are aligned with Sheridan’s Strategic Plan (Galvanizing Education for a Complex World) and of importance to its internal and external  communities. Finalization of targeted SDGs as well as broad challenge statements will be developed once internal and external SDG collaborators (potentially local and global) are identified.

  • SDG 4 Education: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • SDG 5 Gender Equality: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth: Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all
  • SDG 10 Reduce Inequities: Reduce inequalities within and among countries
  • SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable
  • SDG 13 Climate Action: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact
  • SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies
  • SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Measuring Impact

  • # students engaged in hackathon
  • # community collaborators
  • # Impact mentors (Sheridan faculty, staff)
  • # solutions generated (total and by SDG)
  • # actionable/implementable ideas
  • Social Media metrics/media coverage
  • Post hackathon participant surveys: skills development; awareness of SDGs; interest in engaging in future SDG work (on or off campus), enhanced professional connections; etc.

Duties and responsibilities

The intent is that this initiative will be student led and run by Sheridan’s SDG Youth Coordinator and the Hackademics Club, with mentorship and support from Sheridan SDG’s Working Group (currently includes representatives from Office for Sustainability, EDGE entrepreneurship hub, Centre for Equity and Inclusion, Global Education and Internationalization, Innovation).

Sheridan’s student-run Hackacademics Club helps students build networks across Faculties and seeks to foster cross-discipline/program collaboration and innovation through hackathons. Interaction Design students involved with this Club were also hired as facilitators within Sheridan’s Virtual Internship Program Innovation Accelerator, a work-integrated learning opportunity for degree-level students in Summer 2020 that had a significant focus on social innovation projects aligned with the SDGs. The Hackademics Club was previously working with the Office for Sustainability on an SDG hackathon challenge (provided by Town of Oakville’s Community Energy Plan regarding alternative transportation) planned for March which was cancelled due to COVD-19.

The specific details of the hackathon will be finalized during the development process this fall, with implementation in the winter term prior to March 31, 2021. It is anticipated that it will build on the model used in previous hackathons. A description of an earlier event in 2019 will provide an overview of student duties and responsibilities required for development and implementation of the hackathon. As with the proposed SDG hackathon, this earlier event focused on social innovation. The hackathon was organized by Sheridan’s student-run Hackademics Club, and took place over 36-hours. Teams worked against the clock using their creativity, problem-solving and technical skills, with the goal being to develop solutions that have potential for real-world impact as a means of addressing social isolation in older adults.

To acquaint students with the social challenges faced by many older adults, the Sheridan’s Centre for Elder Research conducted a workshop at the hackathon’s opening ceremonies, answered questions and provided guidance to teams throughout the event. In the case of the proposed SDG hackathon, the event would be used as a focal point for knowledge sharing around the SDGs in the period leading up to and at the event itself. This would enable us to reach a wider audience during the period in advance of the SDGs. It is anticipated that, as with the earlier hackathon, additional internal and external partners would be engaged as project collaborators, fostering partnerships around the SDGs. In addition partners could be engaged on a panel of judges who evaluate the solutions put forward by the teams at the event’s closing ceremonies.

Unlike many other hackathons, hackathon dealing with social isolation was marketed to first-time participants and those without extensive programming or design experience. Seventy percent of the participants were new to hackathons. Given the desire to maximize exposure to the SDGs and the development of interdisciplinary teams of students it’s anticipated that a similar approach will be taken with the SDG hackathon.

Knowledge and skills

Participants would come from a diverse set of backgrounds and program areas, with a focus on encouraging development of interdisciplinary teams from a variety of areas including business, technology, social sciences, applied health and community studies, and the arts. A plan for building awareness of the SDGs, with a focus on the 3 or more SDGs selected for inclusion within the hackathon, will be developed to ensure all participants have required knowledge for participation in the event. As mentioned earlier, the lead up to the event will also allow us to share knowledge more broadly within the community to ensure understanding of the SDGs and their role at Sheridan are increased within the community as a whole.

Education required

Current Post-secondary student

Certification required

No certification required.

Eligibility criteria

Qualified interns are:

  • Between 15 and 30 years of age at the start of the internship
  • Canadian citizens, permanent residents or persons granted refugee status in Canada1
  • Legally allowed to work according to the relevant provincial and Canadian legislation and regulations
  • Available to participate in an ImpAct internship for a flexible duration of up to 6 months by March 1, 2021
  • Not employees of the hiring employer prior to the start of their internship (does not apply to previous coop students or student interns, although this must be clearly indicated by the employer)

1Refugee protection must be conferred under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Persons awaiting refugee status, as well as those who hold a temporary visitor visa, student visa or work visa, are ineligible to participate in a Youth Employment Strategy initiative.

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