Connecting Steps

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Connecting Steps

Vancouver, CanadaVancouver, Canada
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Design-thinking workshops for non-profits, activists and social entrepreneurs. Empowering people to find new solutions to existing challenges.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In 2003, there were approximately 161,000 incorporated non-profit and voluntary organizations operating in Canada. An estimated 13% of which were established in British Columbia. These organizations touch all aspects of our life and have become a fundamental part of Canadian society. Unfortunately, non-profit and voluntary organizations experience many difficulties fulfilling their missions or achieving their organizational objectives, which limits their ability to contribute to the community. Having to manage with limited economic resources is challenging enough, but usually it is the lack of strategic orientation, leadership and management struggles what stands in their way towards establishing a plan and generating ideas on how to reach their goals.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Connecting Steps is a series of dynamic workshops for non-profits, activists and social entrepreneurs that uses the design-thinking and co-design framework to empower them in the development of better solutions to social problems. Connecting steps looks to empower those involved to create a meaningful change through their own effort, ideas and concepts. Participants engage in activities to accelerate meaningful collaboration and learn the skills, tools and techniques that they need in order to tackle the complex problems that affect them. The project seeks to generate a ripple effect, where workshop participants will multiply the benefit of building their creative confidence by effectively pursuing their organization's objectives and fulfilling their community's needs.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

“Teach a person to fish…. “ The Connecting Steps hands-on interactive workshops will introduce the framework around design thinking and co-design as creative problem solving approaches. Design-thinking uses the ability to combine empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality to analyze and fit solutions to the context. Co-design emphasizes the collaborative work, which requires mutual learning between the stakeholders, creating a process that is more democratic and open. During the workshop, participants will learn tools and techniques in the areas of discovery, definition, visualization, ideation, experimentation and implementation, and immediately apply them to the problems faced by their own organizations. The collaborative approach allows everyone to learn not only from the instructor but also from every participant in the workshop. After the workshop the instructor will continue with a follow-up which each of the participants to aid them in the application of the skills they have learned. The Connecting Steps website and social media strategy will also allow for participants to stay in touch and learn from each others progress as they apply the concepts learned to their own organizations.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

While there are a few organizations that offer design thinking services, they are mostly focused on business innovation and don’t specialize in the small non-profit groups. Connecting Steps is particularly interested in the small and medium organizations that don't have a marketing or communications department. There is currently no one addressing this market, and there is a huge need and demand for this type of service.

Founding Story

I have over ten years of teaching experience in the areas of design, marketing and creativity, working as a professor in Mexico and Canada. In 2011 I started to work with the international NGO Poster for Tomorrow and had the opportunity to travel to Africa as part of their Pan African and Draw me Democracy workshops, which aim to strengthen participants’ knowledge and skills in the fields of design, social communication and advocacy advertising. This provided me with the opportunity to see the amazing benefits that could be achieved in a small amount of time. For my PhD at the University of Victoria I decided to focus on co-design and design-thinking. I was looking for a project to collaborate with and posted an ad asking for any non-profits that would like to work with me. I received an overwhelming response with emails from all kinds of organizations eager to receive help. After talking to many of them I realized that there was a huge need that nobody was addressing.
About You
Connecting Steps
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Connecting Steps

Organization Country

, BC, Vancouver

Country where this solution is creating social impact

, BC, Vancouver

Region in BC where your solution creates social impact


How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

How long have you been in operation?

Still in idea phase, but looking to launch soon

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your solution addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Quality.

Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

I want to help others to help others. I would like to create a ripple effect where the work I do with the leaders of these organizations is translated to the work they do with their communities and causes. I want to empower small and medium sized organizations and individuals so they can achieve their goals and make a positive impact on the world.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

This program is in the idea stage. But I have extensive experience as a workshop facilitator. I have worked with undergraduate students and professionals in Mexico, Argentina, Ghana and Canada, aboriginal communities in Canada and locally with the Green Streets Games project in Vancouver.

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

I would like to create a strong network with local charities and non-profits. While it would be great to take this across Canada I am more interested in building a strong foundation in BC first. It's important to measure the results of the workshops and build strong case studies, so the workshops become stronger each time and their impact is visible to the communities involved.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

The two main barriers are cost and continuity.
Cost implies the expenses involved in the planning, promoting and execution of the workshops. I will address this by initially covering the costs myself, and look for external sources of support, such as grants and sponsorships. Volunteers and partnerships are also key elements of this section.
Continuity refers to what happens after the workshops are finished. It's very important to ensure that participants are able to apply the skills they have learned in their own organizations. This will be addressed by establishing a follow-up plan and a resource kit accessible to participants, as well as a social media strategy that allows communication between stakeholders and display of success case studies.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Launch project. Create a network of participants/collaborators. Teach workshops. Follow-up.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Establish the project in vancouver. Launch Website. Make connections with non-profits and individuals.

Task 2

Teach 1-2 Workshops. Create a strong network of collaboration. Launch toolkit.

Task 3

Follow-up with participants. Launch Social Media Strategy. Present first results obtained from the workshops

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Create website and establish key partnerships.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Recruit volunteers. establish strategic partnerships with universities and organizations.

Task 2

Present success stories obtained from first workshops. Strenghten online network of collaborators

Task 3

Establish a yearly schedule for workshops. Possibly include other instructors.

Tell us about your partnerships

Since the project is on the idea stage there are no current partnerships. However future partnerships would include non-profit organizations and universities.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your solution? If so, where and why?


What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

I am a graphic designer which allows me to create the technical/creative elements needed for the project and I'm also an experienced instructor and workshop facilitator, which allows me to ensure the quality of the content of the project.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list