BURNABY, BC – Embark, a non-profit student society empowering the next generation of student sustainability leaders at Simon Fraser University (SFU), announced their new strategic plan for 2017-2020. The strategic plan was a result of facilitated conversations at the board level, informed by the Student Sustainability Vision (2016). It reflects a shift in the organization’s priority areas away from mobility and towards social sustainability, with changes to the granting available to its membership. Additionally, the strategic plan outlines how Embark will meet its memberships’ evolving sustainability leadership needs. The plan introduces Embark’s “theory of change,” which lays the foundation for its approach to sustainability and community learning for students at SFU.
Embark’s strategic plan was created by its student board of directors over the period of a year through a series of incremental strategic conversations. The board directors used feedback from the Student Sustainability Vision, a document which resulted from in-person facilitated and online membership engagement with 526 students from November 2015 – February 2016, to inform this process. The resulting document, the Student Sustainability Vision, also served as the primary student input into SFU’s 20-year Sustainability Vision. Additionally, the directors used feedback from our annual member survey, released after our Annual General Meeting each year, to gauge member interest in the organization’s draft strategic direction.
The theory of change visual will inform all decisions at Embark. The purpose of this document is to bridge Embark’s mission, or its day-to-day operations, with its vision, or long-term goal for its membership, with details on how both will be achieved. The theory of change visual is designed to reflect a student’s growth over their time at SFU, and Embark’s bottom-up approach to programming. From bottom to top, the visual highlights the progression of a member’s involvement with Embark.
The theory of change breaks down Embark’s approach to sustainability with three priority areas: Food Systems Change, Climate Action, and Social Sustainability. These priority areas were chosen to intentionally further carbon neutrality at SFU, a sustainable local food system that is scalable, and strong, inclusive student communities that honour and pursue reconciliation as well as embrace diversity. Programs such as the Learning Garden, Food Rescue, Community Kitchen, Career Night, Monday Veggie Challenge, Social Innovation Seed Fund, and the Sustainability Peer Program will continue to be offered. In addition, Embark is introducing new programming over the next year such as Community Cohorts, learning communities for students to explore sustainability at SFU and beyond. Embark is currently working on offering indoor vertical gardens and Food Rescue at the Surrey campus and hosting more events at the Vancouver campus for the Spring semester.
With the introduction of Embark’s theory of change, the organization has moved away from focusing on mobility as a focus area and changed the granting streams available to students. Embark decided to shift away from focusing on mobility due to the fact that SFU has taken on an increasingly active role in ensuring sustainable mobility options are available to SFU community members, as reflected in the renaming of SFU’s Parking Services Department to Parking Services and Sustainable Mobility Services and its expanded area of work. As a result, Embark is now able to focus on the social aspects of sustainability and contribute to a more holistic approach to sustainability on campus. Embark also decided to disband its Community Grant, which previously offered grants of up to $500 to students working on sustainability initiatives within the campus community and instead contribute all funds to the Social Innovation Seed Fund in order to streamline the application process for students. Embark now contributes a total of $10,000 to the Social Innovation Seed Fund, a partner endeavour with RADIUS SFU, which offers low-barrier funding to SFU students ranging from $200 to $1,500 to help get their projects off the ground for social, economic, or environmental transformation for SFU and/or its communities.
With the 2017-2020 strategic plan, Embark has refreshed its approach to sustainability, deepening the impact of its current programming, expanding its offerings to the Vancouver and Surrey campuses, and concentrating on the social aspects of sustainability in its student opportunities. This is a reflection of the shifting interests and priorities of the membership as Embark engages students to advance sustainability on and off campus through its grant, advocacy, and student-designed programming.
For more information, please contact:
Erin Daly, Executive Director
West Mall Centre 2623
8888 University Drive,
Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6