Partner with us

Information for Canadian institutions

Map the System is open to post-secondary education institutions across Canada. We invite you to partner with us to develop social impact leaders who collaborate with others to fully understand a challenge.
Learn more about our approach.


Join a global movement

Be part of a movement which values understanding problems first, before proposing solutions. We believe this is the future of social impact education.


Build connections

Form relationships among staff and students from a range of other universities & colleges, all of whom are passionate about positive social change.


Create opportunities

Give students the chance to win cash prizes, make valuable connections, and develop their ideas for impact in their chosen field.


What is Map the System?

Map the System is a competition that asks students and educators to think differently about social and environmental change. The competition challenges participants to thoroughly research a specific social or environmental issue in order to fully comprehend its underlying components. Participants are then expected to compellingly articulate their findings in a way that engages audiences and promotes understanding.

Map the System is about using a systems-thinking approach to practice changemaking by demonstrating a deep understanding of a pressing social or environmental challenge. This is not a pitch competition, but rather a discovery process for students of any discipline who have an interest in social and environmental change. Students will delve deep into an issue that matters to them and will take the time to explore, probe and research all its connecting elements and factors – later sharing their findings with the world.

The goal of Map the System is to encourage a learning first approach to social change – one where people take the time to understand and build upon existing efforts before attempting something new. The competition also hopes to promote a new type of funding, an “apprenticing with a problem” approach, that encourages institutions to aid students who are looking to conduct detailed research on the problems they care about – rather than exclusively funding business plan competitions.

Ultimately, social change is complicated. Mapping is an effective strategy for gaining insight into the complexities surrounding complex social issues.

Who is Map the System for?

Map the System is for students and recent graduates of any discipline who have an interest in social or environmental issues and who want to learn more about a problem they care about and present their findings to the world . The purpose of the competition is to promote a systems-thinking approach to tackling social/environmental challenges. It is ideally suited to:

% Those who have an existing passion for or lived experience of a particular social/environmental challenge and would like to investigate this problem fully to understand what sort of intervention in the system would be most effective


% Those that are looking to have a high-impact career and want to understand where their unique skill set can be best applied to effect lasting change


% Those who have an existing solution, product or business idea in mind, but would like to research the issue area thoroughly to understand what solutions have already been tried, and are willing to pivot their idea based on their findings

Map the System is less well suited to those whose business idea or start-up enterprise is further advanced to the point where pivoting their model is not feasible at this stage.


How it works

The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, has partnered again with RECODE, an initiative of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, and the Trico Charitable Foundation to bring Map the System to Canada. This year, RECODE has engaged the Institute for Community Prosperity to manage this year’s Canadian competition, supporting students and educators with information, guidance and logistics. The Institute for Community Prosperity, based at Mount Royal University, mobilizes social innovation knowledge and creates learning opportunities for students and other citizens to help them lead transformative change in their communities.

Canadian post-secondary education institutions are invited to run their own Map the System competition, with the support of tools provided by the Skoll Centre and the Institute for Community Prosperity. Institutions running local competitions would align their branding to the Oxford competition, using resources provided.

On May 3-4, 2019, one selected individual or team from each institution will present their findings at the Canadian final event, where participants from across the country will compete to win a place at the Global Final. Two winning teams will each receive $2,500 CAD in prize money and an invitation to the Map the System Global Final held on June 7-9, 2019 at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, UK, where teams from all over the world will compete for the three top prizes.


Participant eligibility criteria:

% Participants can apply for Map the System as an individual or in a team of up to 5 people.

% At least one member of the team must be a current student at any of our partner institutions (enrolled on a course of 6 months or longer), OR a recent graduate of one of those institutions (i.e. having completed studies within 12 months of the date they register for the competition). Non-students, or students from another institution, may join a team as long as at least one member is a current student/recent graduate of the registered partner institution.

% Students may be at an undergraduate, diploma, postgraduate, or doctoral level.

We do not distinguish between degree/diploma subjects and levels when marking submissions as we are looking for the strongest submissions, regardless of a student’s age or subject area, though each partner institution is welcome to set their own application requirements in addition to the above.

Criteria for participating institutions:

We invite institutions to partner with us who meet the following criteria:

% Partners must be post-secondary educational institutions whose students are eligible to receive Canada Student Loans.

% Each partner must have internal capacity to support students throughout the cycle of the competition (mid-September 2018 to mid-June 2019). As a guide, we recommend a minimum of one staff member to support the administrative process (estimated time commitment 50-70 hours total) AND one educator to advise students on the content of their submissions and provide feedback (estimated time commitment 15-20 hours). However, it is ultimately up to the staff members involved to decide how much time they wish to dedicate to supporting the competition’s activities.

% Each institution must commit to securing at least 3 registrations from teams/individuals at their institution, from which it will use the judging criteria provided to select one winner to progress to the Canadian Final event.

Participating institutions may choose whether to incorporate Map the System into their for-credit curriculum or run it as an extracurricular programme.

What is the cost?

This is a not-for-profit initiative. Through the support of RECODE, the Trico Charitable Foundation and the Institute for Community Prosperity, we are able to cover core competition costs such as content development, final event costs, the costs to bring in high-calibre global judges, transportation and prize money. We are seeking a contribution of $2,000 CAD from participating institutions. The McConnell Foundation will cover reasonable transportation costs for up to three members of your selected team, as well as one educator/team support person to attend the Canadian final. In addition, travel and accommodation to the Global Final will be covered for the two teams that win the Canadian final.

What support will partner schools receive?

The Skoll Centre and the Institute for Community Prosperity will provide each partner with:

%  Tools to run their own local challenge (application forms, judging criteria, acceptance letters and certificates, a project plan, branding material, example fliers, etc).

%  The chance to join 2-3 webinars for Map the System Champions from education institutions across Canada, to gather new ideas, answer questions, and share resources.

%  Website with learning tools and resources for all Map the System entrants globally, as well as learning resources shared directly with the Map the System Champions in each institution to share with their local entrants.

%  Tools for offering “Apprenticing with a Problem” funding to finalists. This is funding for individuals to apply to “apprentice with a problem” they care about, by doing a secondment, research project or internship, perhaps with an organisation they identified during their Map the System research. All tools for how this is done including application forms, funding agreements, etc. will be shared with university partners in case they might want to offer the same funding opportunity to their students.

What opportunities will students have?

%  Access to the Map the System network, with new ideas, learning tools, and resources

%  The chance to win one of two cash prizes of $2,500 CDN at the Canadian final event (May 3-4, 2019)

%  Presenting their findings at the Map the System Global Final at the University of Oxford, UK (this opportunity is for the two winners of the Canadian final). The event will provide opportunities to network and learn with other students from around the world.

%  The chance to win one of three cash prizes at the Map the System Global Final (June 7-9, 2019)

% Apprenticing with a Problem Funding for Canadian Final winners. Finalists of the Canadian event will be eligible to apply for up to $10,000 of Apprenticing with a Problem per team. The funding is intended to deepen the learning experience of Map the System and may be used to subsidize an unpaid internship or field research in the country or region relevant to the problem being explored.


Key Dates

Until October 31, 2018

Register your institution

Registration for 2019 is now closed.

Once registered, we will invoice your institution for the $2,000 CAD participation fee and will send you an information pack which includes guidance documents, recommended timelines and processes, judging criteria, and marketing assets for promotion to your students.

September 17, 2018 –
January 28, 2019

Student registration open

Once you have registered your institution, we will send you the link to an online form where your students can register to participate in the competition. Students are required to submit their proposed topic and the names of the individual or team members wishing to participate.

The Skoll Centre Team will send you periodic updates of how many of your students have registered, and the final list of the names of the students who have registered. This gives you an opportunity to provide students with feedback on the suitability of their chosen topic so that any adjustments may be made before the final submissions deadline on April 1st.

April 1, 2019

Final student submissions

Students have until April 1 to submit their final materials via an online form. By that date they need to submit three documents:

1. Visual map or chart
2. Analysis of Research
3. Bibliography

Full details about what should be contained in each of these documents can be found in the Submissions Guidelines.

April 2 –
April 12, 2019

Shortlisting and selection by judges

Each institution may determine who will review and select their students’ entries to Map the System – we recommend a panel of at least 3 experienced judges, including someone from the centre/department managing the competition at your institution. We recommend selecting your winner by hosting a local event where teams present their maps to judges (guidelines will be shared), but you may instead choose to select the winner through review of submissions alone.

Once selected, your institution’s winning team or individual will be invited to the Map the System Canadian Final event on May 3-4, 2019. You must inform us of the name of the finalist(s) by April 12 at the latest.

May 3-4, 2019

Canadian Final competition

At the national competition, teams from across Canada will compete to win a place at the Global Final in Oxford.

The national event will be held in Toronto and will take place over two days. There will be opportunities to network with other participants, receive pre-competition feedback on presentations, and finally, two rounds of presentations in front of a panel of judges. The two winning teams from the Canadian final will receive prize money of $2,500 per team and will be invited to the Map the System Global Final event in Oxford.

The location of the Canadian final will be announced in November.

June 7 – 9, 2019

Map the System Global Final event

The final event will be held at the University of Oxford, UK, where teams from all over the world will present their ideas to compete for the three top prizes.

Participants will benefit from personalised feedback from a panel of expert judges, who work in impact-focused organisations such as private foundations, impact investment firms and social enterprises. Furthermore, finalists will have the opportunity to build relationships with students from a range of other universities, all of whom are passionate about positive social change.

In addition to the final presentation event, finalists will attend a traditional Oxford College dinner, and receive a keynote address by an influential social impact leader. A representative from each partner institution is welcome to join the winning team in Oxford.

Key Contact for Map the System Canada

For any questions related to the Canadian Map the System challenge, please contact Anna Johnson, Institute for Community Prosperity at