Mobilizing Communities for Lasting Social Change

At The Social Impact Lab, we understand that innovation doesn’t always happen between 9 to 5. We believe solving complex social problems requires ideas and insights from all citizens, so we created Open City.

Open Challenges

These days, parents have a lot on their plates; balancing work, taking care of their kids, providing food, taking them to school and after-school programs or other recreational activities, and so on. In the end, there is often limited, or no time and resources left for parents to take care of themselves and release some stress.

If you have an idea that could help parents create the space they need to prioritize their self-care, respond to this challenge!

About Open City

Social innovation has gained prominence as a necessary step to address complex social problems and to co-create with citizens in order to confront challenges our cities face. The more people work together, the more engagement there will be between the systems and the people who access them.

Open City is an open, social innovation community that will create a space for co-creation, collaboration, and co-ideation. This will enable us to create a wide range of solutions that draw on the insights of everyone interested in helping to shape our society.

About the Thriving Children Initiative

Helping children thrive by building stronger communities is a critical part of our work. According to the Canadian Poverty Institute, children growing up in poverty are likely to remain in poverty, and 12.5% of children in Calgary are growing up in poverty. This drives our passion for solving this difficult social issues in order to create a better future for every Albertan.

The Lab defines poverty as the condition of an individual who is deprived of the resources, means, choices, and unable to maintain self-sufficiency.

For the past few months, our team has engaged citizens, communities, and agencies in order to gather insights and identify directional opportunities on which to focus our efforts. These directional opportunities are focused on prevention and early intervention.

As we move into 2020, we will be asking citizens to help co-create with us. Follow us on Instagram and sign-up to Open City to be the first to know.

Children & Youth Mental Health

The first solution from The Social Impact Lab officially launched on October 24 to empower citizens through an online interactive experience that raises awareness and assesses readiness for the natural support role by building competencies and confidence.

Our process started back in the fall of 2018 when we began to understand the opportunities to improve awareness and access to mental health services for children and youth. Our work guided us to design a solution to help natural supports so they could be ready to support a child or youth experiencing mental health concerns.

We encourage you to explore your natural support skills and learn new ways to assist youth in your life. Please share Natural Supports YYC with your network!


Natural Supports Simulation

Launched in October 2019

Every adult with youth in their social network has the potential to be a natural support.

Definition of a Natural Support: Natural supports are relationships and associations that are developed in the course of daily living. They are ‘natural’ in the sense that they are informally and locally developed, and are based on reciprocity or give-and-take. Natural supports include family, friends, romantic partners, neighbours, coaches, teammates, and others who comprise our social network.

By creating equipped natural supports in our community, we believe we can improve navigation and access to supports, increase overall community well-being, and create a network of caring citizens who are able to help.

Mental Wellness Basics Course

Launching in January 2020

The Mental Wellness Basics course will be delivered in partnership with Everfi– an American education and technology company out of Washington, D.C. This partnership is an example of the Lab’s ability to not only create or derive the best solutions but also to find the best solutions.

Through this partnership, United Way of Calgary and Area will make the digital program available to schools in Calgary communities and surrounding area. Mental Wellness Basics provides students with opportunities to explore their own mental health, identify challenges that they may face, and develop strategies for managing those challenges while increasing their awareness of resources and empowering them with the knowledge, skills, and languages necessary to identify and support a peer who may be struggling.


Our latest cohort of Inspire participants completed the 12-week program this month.

A special thank you to:

  • Our guest facilitators Monique Blough and Rochelle Simons from J5 and The Social Impact Lab for introducing the cohort to their approach to storytelling and prototyping.
  • Our guest speaker Marc Joiner from Deloitte Canada for sharing his knowledge and experience has a partner at Deloitte Canada and as the Campaign Co-Chair at United Way Calgary and Area, on the topic of Financial Viability.

We are now preparing the next cohort(s) for February 2020. If your non-profit organization is interested in new thinking, new growth opportunities, and new customers, we encourage you to apply now.

Application will close on Friday, January 10th.

Inspire Cohort 7

Sessions occur on Wednesdays from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM

  • Session 1: February 5
  • Session 2: February 12
  • Session 3: February 19
  • Session 4: March 11
  • Session 5: March 25
  • Session 6: April 8
  • Session 7: April 22
  • Session 8: March 6


The Highlights

Students from RockyView Leadership Academy participated in a workshop on design thinking and childhood poverty. The students helped us reimagine school food programs and how they might be scaled.

The Social Impact Lab was highlighted by United Way Worldwide on Medium.

A huge thank you to Women United, Secure Energy, and many others who have contributed to our work on the Thriving Children Initiative both in-person, at the Lab, and online in Open City.

Students from City Hall School became creative problem solvers at the Lab.

Beth Gignac, CIO of United Way Calgary and Area, and Monique Blough, Director of Strategy at J5 and the Lab spoke at National Child Day on November 20th and had the opportunity to share the solutions developed in the Lab.

Congratulations to the participating non-profit organizations of Cohort 6 for completing our Inspire program.

Happy Holidays from The Social Impact Lab. See you in 2020!