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THE digital project, Common Good First, of which NMMU’s Centre for Community Technologies is the lead South African co-coordinator, has won a top international award.

The project received the distinguished Ashoka U Cordes Innovation Award in celebration of its successful community partnership efforts. NMMU is also responsible for building the digital platform in collaboration with the University of the Western Cape.

The platform has been recognised by Ashoka U, a global network of universities and colleges which focuses on social innovation, for its ambitions to identify, showcase and connect social impact projects to each other, and to universities for the research, evaluation, teaching and student engagement.

The digital platform showcases social innovation, social enterprise and community projects. Common Good First also connects organisations to peer projects, academics and higher education institutions in South African and across the world.

It also helps projects improve their digital literacy and information and technology (ICT) skills so they can share their stories, skills, knowledge and solutions, and grow their support bases and networks.

The project is a partnership between several South African and international universities, with the universities helping to identify innovation projects, including those with whom they are already engaged.

The developer of the project and its primary coordinator is Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland.

Common Good First is funded by the EU programme, Erasmus+, a funding stream for education.

Common Good First was awarded almost €1m over three years (about R15.5m).

“By creating an online network of social innovation and community projects in SA and internationally, it opens incredible opportunities for engagement, co-operation and partnerships between the projects and the Erasmus+ partner universities," says Professor Darelle van Greunen, director of the Centre for Community Technologies at NMMU.

The South African universities included in the project all have strong engagement programmes and relationships with their communities.

In addition to NMMU and UWC, the University of Johannesburg (UJ), North-West University, Free State University and Rhodes University are involved in the project.

A pilot project completed earlier this year in partnership with the faculty of management at UJ included social innovation projects such as the Tshepang Programme for Orphans and Vulnerable Children.

Other universities partnering with the Common Good First project are Reykjavik University in Iceland, Roskilde University in Denmark, Universidad de Alicante in Spain and the University of South East Norway.

Contact information
Professor Darelle van Greunen
Director: Centre for Community Technologies
Tel: 27 41 504 2090