Social Innovation Award

What is Innovation?

Innovation is defined as creativity with purpose (Innovative Intelligence, Weiss and LeGrand, 2011). To think innovatively is to be open and curious, to embrace new ideas, to apply insight, to persist because you know there is a better idea out there and you just need to figure it out. It is to think with flexibility and novelty in the every day.

The purpose of the Social Innovation Award (formerly the Student Innovation Award) is to honour student(s) whose innovative thinking has had an impact on a problem, and on the people around them. The application can be to a social problem, a business problem, or any other problem for which a novel solution can be found.


Award Criteria & Process

  1. The award is open to all students, in any grade, working individually or in teams.
  2. Students may be nominated by any person in the Havergal community or may nominate themselves.
  3. The selection committee will review the proposal for its impact on the Havergal community and beyond.


For the 2019 Social Innovation Award, nominations are due in the Forum for Change by April 19, 2019. Click here for the Nomination Form, or pick up a copy in the Forum for Change. The nominees are to provide a written submission (max 500 words) about the problem the innovation is applied to, why the innovation addresses the problem, and an example (if applicable) of an outcome. The selection committee includes representatives from the Institute, faculty, administration, students and innovators beyond the Havergal community.


Award Recipients

2018 Selina Chow

2018 Student Innovation Award Winners


2015 Orli Silverberg & Vanessa Koo

2015 Student Innovation Award Winners


The recipients of the 2015 Innovation Award are Orli Silverberg and Vanessa Koo. Both understand the power of music that connects people to themselves and each other. Orli’s audience was the children at Holland Bloorview kids rehabilitation hospital, Vanessa’s was elderly people with Alzheimer’s at the 147 Elder Street nursing home. Though the audiences were different, the responses they had were the same… a reconnection with self and boundless joy. Since these initiatives were very well received in the 2014-2015 school year, they are now being offered through the Music Connects Partnership. This adds to the tradition of student-initiated community partnerships at Havergal, including past success stories Athletes in Motion and Art Heart.

Grade 5 student Marley Melbourne received an honorable mention. Through her learning with the Student Institute Team, she became concerned about the children left behind when their parents died of Ebola in west Africa. From there she began an exploration of children’s rights, which has led to the formation of a Children’s Rights Club in partnership with Grenoble Public School.


2014 Havergal Cancer Education Group & Body Bijou

2014 Student Innovation Award Winners


This is the third year we are honouring student innovation at Havergal College. Through these awards we recognize students who have responded with originality and passion to shaping the world they want. They are young women who are having an impact now. This year, we are recognizing two students who have made fantastic contributions to our learning and to the world at large through their commitment to a better world; one of greater understanding, empathy and compassion.

Ceilidh Mendelson-Grasse is honoured for founding and inspiring the Havergal Cancer Education Group. The Group worked throughout the year on events, workshops and other original ways of sharing to build understanding of different cancers, the impact of cancer on young people, and the state of research in the field. Havergal is a very busy place, but each of the Group’s events and workshops were so well attended and supported that it is clear we, as a school community, were responding with curiosity and interest to their education efforts. Congratulations to Ceilidh and to the Havergal Cancer Education group.

Our second honoree drew her inspiration from her personal knowledge of the impact of girls’ education. She is a true social entrepreneur who is dedicated, passionate and highly original in her commitment to enriching opportunities for girls everywhere in the world. Linda Manziaris learned to make jewelry at Havergal. She took these skills, expanded her knowledge and introduced new methods to make unique and innovative jewelry designs. She didn’t do this just to create beauty – she did this to build a business with a social mission. Profits from Linda’s company Body Bijou go to support girls’ education through GirlsHelpingGirls and other organizations. In honour of her work, Linda was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2014 Ontario Startup Canada Awards. Congratulations to Linda and to Body Bijou.


2013 GirlsHelpingGirls

Susanna Manziaris


The student who received the Student Innovation Award in May 2013, Susanna Manziaris, embodies innovative thinking. She sees problems, she asks good questions, she thinks in terms of possibility, and she acts with flexibility and novelty in the every day. She was part of the group who founded TEDxHavergalCollege in 2011 (and hosted the first TEDx in November 2012). As part of the preparation the group watched dozens of videos (TEDx requires that videos be included), one of which was the documentary film It’s a Girl. She found this film on gendercide so horrifying that she could not let it go, and wanted to do something. She rejected the producers’ idea to lobby the governments of China and India as ineffective because she wanted to address the full complexity of the issue. Susanna decided that what would change this behaviour is the education of girls – she believes that educated women could never participate in gendercide. The next step was to find a girl to sponsor – Susanna researched the large NGOs and discovered that they offered no connection to young women in return for a donation. She decided to start her own charity, GirlsHelpingGirls (GHG), which aims to eradicate gendercide by raising the status of women through education. Continuing to think deeply, Susanna decided to approach Nurturing Orphans of AIDS for Humanity (NOAH), one of Havergal’s international partners that supports children in South Africa. NOAH agreed to find young women whose lives would be improved by attending a better high school, such as one that offered exposure to technology.

This is not a great, big new idea. Rather it is a highly innovative approach to the undervaluing of girls and women world-wide. Educate young women, don’t throw money at people, work with a partner to identify smart, young women who can use support; young women with whom we can develop relationships and who will then have a network beyond the townships of South Africa. This is long term, sustainable change.


2012 WalletFarm

2012 Student Innovation Award Winners


At the Academic Awards Ceremony held on Thursday, October 11, 2012, the Institute at Havergal presented the first ever Student Innovation Award to WalletFarm founders, Upper School students Julia Hou, Lucy Luo, Cynthia Zhou and Jennifer Chen. These students produced felt wallets that resemble cows and other farm animals to raise funds for Heifer International, a not-for-profit organization that helps families in under-developed countries improve nutrition and generate income through gifts of livestock.

The WalletFarm group impressed the award selection committee with the complexity of their ideas to use micro-enterprise to support micro-enterprise. Their model is sustainable both because the animals they purchase provide immediate and longer-term revenue to communities, enabling families to support themselves, and because of their commitment to working with younger students to share their learning and their approach to change.