The School of Cities is excited to announce its first ever app development competition – and you have the chance to be a part of it.  

Across Canada, loneliness in youth has become a significant issue, with nearly a quarter of those aged 15 – 24 reporting that they always or often feel lonely (Statistics Canada, 2021). This loneliness can take a toll on mental health and overall wellbeing, reducing one’s quality of life.  

One of the best ways to address the challenge of loneliness is through improving civic engagement – getting youth more involved and connected with the cities and communities they are a part of. 

Civic engagement has many other benefits too. It can ensure youth perspectives are more represented on key political issues like climate change and education. It can result in neighbourhoods that better reflect youth mobility and cultural interests. And early civic engagement can result in continued civic engagement throughout life. 

That’s why the goal of this competition is to design a mobile application or website with the goal of improving and fostering civic engagement in youth (ages 15 – 24)

“Civic engagement” can mean several different things. It can include: 

  • Taking part in a protest or other political activity 
  • Being a part of a cultural or community organization 
  • Contributing to improving public space and the local environment 
  • Creating public art  
  • Volunteering with local organizations 
  • Welcome refugees and new immigrants
  • And much more… 

During the competition, participating groups will have the opportunity to work with and receive feedback from youth organizations in the GTA, helping them design a product that effectively meets their users’ needs and preferences.  

How you choose to address youth civic engagement is up to you and your team. Creativity is highly encouraged! 


Competition timeline 

  • December 20: Competition opens, proposals accepted 
  • February 12, 12:30 to 1:30 PM: Competition mixer – attend an online mixer to learn more about the competition and meet some potential teammates. Register now!
  • March 8: Proposal deadline 
  • April 1: Five teams will be selected to continue in the competition and develop their apps.  
  • May – August: Skill development workshops to be held & feedback sessions with youth organizations (dates TBD)
  • June 30: Prototypes / progress update due 
  • August 31: Final submissions due 
  • Mid September: Winning teams announced 
  • September onward: Continued work with the winning team(s) to further develop their app.  

Proposal requirements 

Participants must be enrolled at the University of Toronto for the duration of the competition in any undergraduate or graduate program.

To submit a proposal and participate in the competition, you will need to: 


If you have questions about the competition, please email (communication.sofc@utoronto.ca


Proposal evaluation

Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria: 

  • Originality: Does the proposed product offer a new service that is not already offered by an existing application or website? 
  • Overall quality of submission: Is the proposal well written? Does it demonstrate attention to detail and address all the requirements? 
  • Feasibility: How likely is it that the proposed product can be developed with the timeframe and resources available?  
  • Potential for impact & engagement: How likely is it that the proposed product will have a high impact and address youth civic engagement? Is it clear why a user would want to use the product? 


Multi-disciplinary teams are highly encouraged and will receive additional consideration when the five teams are being selected.


Winning prizes & funding 

Prize earnings will be provided in September, 2024 

  • 1st place: $8,000. Additional funding for continued development (amount TBD). 
  • 2nd place: $5,000  
  • 3rd place: $4,000 
  • Runners up: $500 each (x2). 

Initial proposal funding: $700 per team (April 2024)
*5 teams with successful proposals selected will receive initial funding to assist in their product development 

Mid-term progress funding: $800 per team (June 2024) 
*Each of the 5 teams will receive additional funding in June, 2024, contingent on demonstrating sufficient progress in their app development.