Igniting change with one small spark


March 12, 2020

Igniting change with one small spark.

United Way Halton & Hamilton launches Social Innovation Labs to solve pressing #UNIGNORABLE issues in new and innovative ways

 Let’s consider big, audacious ideas. You know those ideas, those conversations, that may start as a small ember, or a flash of inspiration. Perhaps they are scribbled on a napkin, or captured in the notes app of your smart phone. Regardless of what’s fueling the idea, whether it’s a business concept or future personal goal, we have all had those moments of dreaming big. What if you had a team behind that notion, and some funding to plant the seed to pilot the idea?

Big problems need big ideas. Your United Way is taking the concept of bold, innovative thinking to solve some of our community’s most #UNIGNORABLE social issues, such as mental illness, addiction, hunger and employment. Through the Social Innovation Lab (SIL), United Way will bring together unusual suspects to fuel emerging ideas and move possibility into action.

“Increasing community need and unpredictable funding have put a strain on resources in the non-profit sector,” says Brad Park, president and CEO of UWHH. “United Way is launching the Social Innovation Labs to drive our mission to improve lives, build community and ignite action, in addition to helping build an innovative and resilient non-profit sector.”

Aimed at creating lasting change, SIL will tackle complex topics connected to social issues in our community that have no clear solution, in a collaborative and structured process.

The SIL will engage five Design Teams to create social entrepreneurial solutions to #UNIGNORABLE issues in our community. The process will include five workshops that focus on gaining empathy for the end user, identifying a problem, ideating, prototyping and testing a solution.

“One of our challenges is how to effectively incorporate green building practices into our youth employment training and social enterprise programs,” says John Grant, Executive Director at Threshold School of Building. “We are participating in the Social Innovation Labs in order to help us design policies and processes that utilize human and environmental resources in an innovative, sustainable and responsible manner.”


Every day, people in our community are faced with poverty, homelessness, mental illness, and social isolation. By leading with innovation, your United Way is helping non-profits stay agile in an ever-shifting landscape.

“Hofmann is thrilled to participate in the Social Innovation Labs, as it allows us to contribute to the wellbeing and advancement of the community with a hands on approach,” says Paul Kalia, CEO of E.Hofmann Plastics. “We’re excited to see the impact this program will have in developing future leaders and solutions for the community.”

Last year, your United Way supported more than 200,000 people through 129 local programs. SIL will focus on solutions to further the missions of the local charities who offer these programs.

The SIL will bring together individuals to raise resources and build capacity for those in our community who need it most. Through UWHH’s unparalleled and distinct ability to convene, the entire community will benefit from driving dialogue through teams that will include partner agencies, people with lived experience, community leaders, topic experts and graduate students.

As community issues continue to increase, the non-profit sector must also evolve and mobilize change in creative ways. Through the SIL, your United Way can continue to serve community and help individuals who need it most.


Thank you to SIL Investing Partners

  • Hofmann Plastics
  • Enable Education
  • McMaster Innovation Park
  • Mitacs
  • The Schwenger Family Foundation

Thank you to SIL Program Partners

  • Enable Education
  • Capacity Canada
  • McMaster University/The Collaborative

Thank you to the community champions who have contributing their time and expertise

  • Buy Social Canada
  • Innovation Factory
  • Jet Propelled
  • Mohawk Centre for Climate Change Management
  • Royal Bank of Canada


Thank you to SIL participating agencies

  • Elizabeth Fry Society of Peel-Halton
  • Food for Life
  • Halton Food for Thought
  • Threshold School of Building

The SIL pilot launch is on March 12, 2020. This workshop will focus on social enterprise solutions to enhance agency operations, missions and efficiencies.

Do you have a big idea to share? Interested in being a part of the SIL and planting some seeds? Visit uwhh.ca.

– 30 –

About United Way Halton & Hamilton

United Way Halton & Hamilton (UWHH) is committed to leading measurable, impactful change by identifying the most challenging issues in our community, and bringing together people and resources to address those issues. We connect volunteers with local needs, and offer training and operational support to local charities. Along with our network of partners and experts, UWHH conducts research and works with key stakeholders to generate support for the not-for-profit sector. Each dollar raised is invested right back into the community. Today, 202,421 residents across Halton and Hamilton rely on 129 United Way supported programs for life-changing services.

Outside of government, United Way is the largest funder of social service programs and initiatives in Canada.

For more information and to donate visit: www.uwhh.ca


Nicole Cordeiro

Marketing & Project Coordinator

United Way Halton & Hamilton

T: 905.635.3131 ext. 307 | C: 647.300.1428


Topics :

Sign Up to Receive Information from UWHH