Visionary $10M donation to support a first-of-its-kind social innovation centre at Concordia University
A visionary gift of $10 million from the Mirella & Lino Saputo Foundation and the Amelia & Lino Saputo Jr. Foundation will allow the creation of a first-of-its-kind multi-stakeholder collaboration centre at Concordia University.
The new SHIFT Centre for Social Transformation will enable Concordia and its partners to drive and support community-based social transformation projects in Montreal, Quebec and Canada. The gift — among the largest in the university’s history — supports the Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen. Now.
SHIFT will unite academic knowledge, community-held expertise and entrepreneurial students. Together, they will develop sustainable and transformative solutions to complex societal challenges such as environmental degradation, political polarization, wealth inequality and a rapidly changing labour market.
The centre will encourage and support individuals who are taking bold, creative and effective steps to build a stronger, healthier society.
“Our family takes great pride in supporting this transformative project, since advancing social innovation is a family priority,” says Mirella Saputo, president of Mirella & Lino Saputo Foundation.
“Partnering with Concordia for the SHIFT Centre for Social Transformation will give the next generation of students, academics and community groups the support required to solve some of our society’s biggest challenges.”
Lino A. Saputo Jr., BA 89, co-chair for the Campaign for Concordia and chair of the Board and chief executive officer of Montreal-based Saputo Inc. (TSE:SAP), says this major gift is a pragmatic investment for his family.
“The SHIFT Centre for Social Transformation will support tomorrow’s social entrepreneurs to solve critical issues — from the ground up — in partnership with community groups,” he says. “Marrying academia and entrepreneurship with grassroots social innovation at Concordia will go a long way to improving society.”
“Our foundation supports several causes, including hospitals and health, yet a big part of our philanthropic focus is on education,” says Amelia Saputo, BA 90, president of the Amelia & Lino Saputo Jr. Foundation. “We are proud that our gift will advance the next generation of Concordia students to develop, explore, achieve and contribute to the betterment of society.”
The new centre will grant resources and accompaniment to projects that link Concordians with community members and groups. Project teams will benefit from hands-on support for grant-writing, project-management, evaluation and strategic guidance.
“The SHIFT Centre for Social Transformation will allow Concordia to build on its longstanding reputation as a trusted, community-engaged and socially progressive university,” says Graham Carr, Concordia’s interim president “The centre, its staff and our students will support underrepresented and overstretched frontline organizations and communities.”
Thanks to this donation, SHIFT will soon operate from a welcoming, physical space where students, faculty, staff and external community members and groups can train, network, skill-share and collaborate on existing and emerging social transformation initiatives.
SHIFT staff and partners will offer next-gen learning-by-doing experiences. This engagement will connect Concordia students, researchers and staff with community partners.
Creation of the SHIFT Centre for Social Transformation will also advance Concordia’s 9 Strategic Directions. “The Saputo family’s gift will allow our students to engage in real world, community-based projects that address major societal challenges,” says Nadia Bhuiyan, Concordia's vice-provost of partnerships and experiential learning.
“The SHIFT Centre for Social Transformation will enable students to develop valuable skills and knowledge that will serve them in their lives beyond university and help them make meaningful contributions to society.”
Paul Chesser, vice-president of advancement at Concordia, says the SHIFT Centre for Social Transformation will amplify Concordia knowledge, expertise and resources among the broader Montreal community.
“This forward-looking contribution from the Saputo family will allow our university and its partners to create a more just, inclusive and sustainable society.”