Community Innovation Project

Community Innovation Project Logo


Many local not-for-profit organizations, government entities, and businesses operate with limited resources. They do not always have the time, resources, or expertise to allocate towards opportunities that would bring change to their organization, business, or the community. The Community Innovation Project’s (CIP) mission is to increase the capacity of local agencies and businesses. To accomplish this, the CIP will leverage the creative capital of SUNY Cortland and the Cortland community and encourage collaboration and the open exchange of ideas to find new creative solutions to community problems.


1. Improve the marketing and communications of local organizations and businesses

2. Improve the capacity of local organizations and businesses through program evaluation, design, and development

3. Build stronger campus-community partnerships

4. Encourage a culture of innovation among non-profit leaders, local businesses, and students

5. Develop students’ understanding of participation and pathways for active involvement in their communities

Community Component: The Innovation Lab

The Innovation Lab will operate out of Main Street SUNY Cortland and offer services that may include the following:

Marketing, design, and  communications resource center

  • Provide services to improve social media, design, communication, analytics, etc.
  • Evaluate current marketing practices of area agencies and/or businesses
  • Develop resources and best practices for agencies and businesses
  • Build the in-house capabilities of local organizations and help local businesses to expand

Collaborative working space for program evaluation, design, development, and deployment

  • Provide a space for community members and leaders to generate new ideas
  • Bring together not-for-profit and business leaders to share knowledge, resources, and skills
  • Facilitate the opportunity for students to gain practical experience by working with non-profit organizations and businesses and to develop new ideas for their own entrepreneurial ventures

Outreach Center for student organizations and clubs

  • The Innovation Lab will supply space for mission-driven student organizations and clubs to work with and for the community

Building Community Leaders

  • Provide students with the information, skills, and resources they need to support their involvement in their communities and to act as entrepreneurs

Curricular Component: Innovation through the Curriculum

Students will develop skills, knowledge, and abilities in the following:


  • Issues facing our communities
  • Program evaluation
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Social change
  • Processes of community development
  • Design thinking
  • Collaborative relationship building
  • Leadership
  • Marketing
  • Effective communication
  • Business development and expansion

Students will develop these skills through a combination of coursework and internships. Working through the Innovation Lab as part of a capstone project, student teams will work on real-life projects to develop solutions and present their recommendations for possible implementation. Students could also work — through internships and service-learning opportunities — as part of deployment teams to implement their solutions.