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‘SHIFT is a response to profound societal challenges’

Concordia leaders reflect on the impact of the Saputo family’s gift
November 8, 2019

The Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen. Now received an exceptional $10 million gift from the Mirella & Lino Saputo Foundation and the Amelia & Lino Saputo Jr. Foundation on Nov. 1.

The donation allowed the creation of the new SHIFT Centre for Social Transformation — a first-of-its-kind multi-stakeholder collaboration centre at Concordia University.

Concordia leaders explain how the centre will drive community-based social transformation projects in Montreal, Quebec and Canada.

Graham Carr

Graham Carr
Concordia Interim President

“We understand that often the most effective solutions to major societal challenges begin at the local level. SHIFT will further strengthen Concordia’s role as a trusted, neutral power and relationship broker that collaborates with communities rather than mandating to them.”

Nadia Bhuiyan

Nadia Bhuiyan, BEng 95
Vice-provost, Partnerships and Experiential Learning, Concordia University

“SHIFT is a response to the profound societal challenges we are facing, such as accelerating environmental degradation, political polarization, wealth inequality and the rapid changes to the labour market due to technology. As a trusted Canadian institution with significant resources, we saw an opportunity to mobilize thinking and action around community-driven social transformation.”

Paul Chesser

Paul Chesser, BA 94, GrDip 97
Vice-president, Advancement, Concordia University

“We are grateful to our community’s business leaders for stepping up in support of higher education. This $10-million gift to the SHIFT Centre for Social Transformation brings us more than two thirds of the way towards our Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen. Now goal. This major donation is a testimony to the trust we have with the community and with key institutions.”

Charmaine Lyn

Charmaine Lyn
Interim director, SHIFT Centre for Social Transformation
Senior director, Office of Community Engagement, Concordia University

“Concordia is anchored in community. It has been since its inception. SHIFT is a hugely ambitious project that builds on Concordia’s reputation. It’s a signal of the trust that we have with both community and with big partners like our donor who have trusted Concordia with this vision. This is what a next-generation university looks like.”

Jason Lewis

Jason Lewis
Professor, Department of Design and Computation Arts
Concordia University Research Chair in Computational Media and the Indigenous Future Imaginary

“SHIFT can help us address issues that are of concern to the indigenous community, both locally and nationally, by making it possible to actually put the resources that Concordia has to direct use in working with those communities. SHIFT is an opportunity to do it right.”

Kimberley Manning

Kimberley Manning
Associate professor, Department of Political Science, Concordia University

“Concordia was founded on the idea of access; access for all kinds of people to be able to receive and complete higher education. Thanks to the gift from the Saputo family, we're now going to be able to take that vision to a much deeper level. SHIFT, at its heart, is a project of equity and inclusion.”

Jason Ens

Jason Ens
Executive director, Academic Policy, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives

“The SHIFT Centre will be a place for organizing collective action with other key stakeholders, with government, with non-profits, with community organizations, with citizens, with companies — with people who really care about making a difference.”

Andrea Clarke

Andrea Clarke, BSc 09, MSc 12, MBA 17
Executive director, Head and Hands

“Community work, like research, requires curiosity, commitment and the capital to deliver on its full potential. It is clear to me that the SHIFT Centre for Social Transformation presents a unique opportunity for Concordia and the community sector to share their expertise, to co-develop approaches to partnership and to experiment boldly.”

Mark Underwood

Mark Underwood, BA 18
CEO, Sustainability Action Fund

“SHIFT will offer community groups, NGOs and individuals the resources to ensure that their projects and initiatives are effective and they're maintained. It will also allow students to get outside of the classroom to take what they're learning through their studies and put it into action so that their learning is more enriched through experience.”

Marguerite Mendell

Marguerite Mendell, BA 72
Director, Karl Polyani Institute of Political Economy

“SHIFT is on a continuum of Concordia’s history of always being willing to embark on innovation, to stay close to society and to stay close to community. To ask the questions that matter to the people around us and to find ways to answer those questions. That is the Concordia tradition.”

Sara Baptiste-Brown

Sara Baptiste-Brown, BComm 08
Member, SHIFT
Co-op program coordinator, Institute for Co-Operative Education

“Concordia is a great home for SHIFT because it brings together people and organizations. It allows groups that wouldn't normally talk to each other to come together and to work collectively towards having a positive impact on society. This is an opportunity to do good things for the right reasons.”

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