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 platform that will create a space for co-creation, collaboration, and co-ideation, and to enable us the creation of wide-ranging solutions that draw on the insights of everyone interested in helping to shape our society.

We are excited about the possibility of engaging and hosting multiple workshops with multiple participants and stakeholders both in our Lab and through Open City. Get involved and join Open City today!


Since the beginning of this year, the Lab has been investigating awareness and access to mental health services, system navigation, and systems coordination. During this time, many different stakeholders have co-created with us to understand and design solutions that focus on increasing access to supports for natural supports and caregivers of children and youth with mental health concerns, including Alberta Health Services, Calgary Board of Education students, corporations, non-profit organizations, donors, United Way staff, and families with children who have accessed mental health supports.

The result of this work is two new projects to be released into the community later this Fall.

Natural Supports Simulation

Every adult with youth in their social network has the potential to be a natural support. The Natural Supports Simulation is an online interactive experience that raises awareness and assesses readiness for the natural support role by building competencies and confidence.

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. The simulation will be desktop and mobile-friendly and launches this October! Keep watch on our social channels for the release date next month.

Mental Wellness Basics Online Course

The Mental Wellness Basics course will be delivered in partnership with Everfi– an American educational 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 language necessary to identify and support a peer who may be struggling.

“There is no health without mental health.” – World Health Organization

Thank you to everyone who visited our interactive exhibit at the Calgary Central Library and engaged with our work around mental well-being. The exhibit was a great success and the responses we gathered from everyone who participated helped us to:

  1. Understand what citizens are currently doing to maintain their mental well-being
  2. Understand what mental well-being means to citizens
  3. Understand which factors influence citizens’ well-being the most
  4. Create a space for citizens to openly think and talk about mental well-being

We are now analyzing over 1000 responses to be incorporated into future ideas bubbling at the Lab in the mental well-being space. Our exhibit has ended but the work continues! Stay tuned for more opportunities to collide with the Lab.


The Social Impact Lab has officially launched work in the area of poverty, beginning with a focus on early childhood poverty. This work began with a partnership with Canadian Poverty Institute to guide our starting point in relationship to key gaps in the community where we may have an impact. A series of conversations with funded partner organizations throughout the month of August were hosted to help define our opportunity starting point. We have two upcoming workshops to engage the community and help us further define this starting point and we encourage you to join us in imagining new possibilities to better support children in our community.

Please note that each workshop will be capped so we encourage you to sign up early. If you know someone else who may be interested, please share this information.


Friday, September 27
9:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M.
At The Social Impact Lab  

This is a Citizen Workshop for adults who have a connection to a child as a: Parent / Caregiver, Teacher / Coach, and/or Relative / Family-Friend.


Wednesday, October 10
4:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M.
At The Social Impact Lab  

This is a Systems Workshop for individuals working in the social services sector. In particular, we would like to draw from your experiences with children.


In collaboration with The Co-operators, Kevin spent some time in beautiful Naujaat, a remote community in Nunavut, to understand what factors play a role in an individual’s financial resiliency.

Welcome Lily to the Lab team!

John and Talia spoke with ABSI Connect (Alberta Social Innovation) this summer
about the Lab.

Imperial Oil is “giving back” this season! Thank you for helping us test one of our Children and Youth Mental Health prototypes.

The Inspire program has kicked off this month with a new cohort of non-profit organizations!

We’re excited to have practicum students Holly Jenkins and Jasmine Sinclair from U of C’s Faculty of Social Work at the Lab!

The Lab and The Co-operators teamed up for a 4-day design sprint to empower individuals living in poverty and the community.

Representatives of United Way Calgary and Area, partner agencies, and The Social Impact Lab recently held a press release at the Lab on the topic of disruption in the social sector.

Did you spot us at the 2019 United Way Campaign Kick-Off parade?