The Staff Excellence Fund is part of the total compensation package for UWaterloo staff. $250,000 is allocated annually to fund the following initiatives:

  • High‐Quality Speakers. The fund will continue to sponsor speakers and events coordinated by Organizational & Human Development on topics relating to staff training and development, both within and independent of the annual staff conference. Estimated cost: $65,000/year.
  • Service Recognition. This fund contributes to the university’s annual Years of Service Reception for USG Staff at their at 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 year milestones (as determined by Human Resources). Estimated cost: $50,000/year.
  • Engagement and Leadership Development. $50,000/year is allocated to activities, programs and services to enhance employee engagement and foster leadership development. 
  • Healthy Workplace Initiatives. $85,000/year is allocated for Healthy Workplace Initiatives.

UWSA's role

Staff have input into allocating the funds for the Healthy Workplace and the Engagement and Leadership Development categories through the UWSA's Staff Excellence Fund Committee, which reviews applications for these funds from across UW—including from members like you!

This committee includes the UWSA president, a UWSA staff member, the UWSA representative on the UW Healthy Workplace Committee, and, most importantly, four UWSA members at large.

Application instructions 

You can submit an SEF application at any time and it will be reviewed by the SEF Committee. If approved by the SEF Committee, it will get passed on to the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Staff Compensation (PACSC). Incomplete proposals may be rejected or returned to the submitter for more details, so be sure to fill out the form carefully!


The Staff Excellence Fund was established in January 2009 by the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Staff Compensation (PACSC) when the Special Recognition Award Program for University Support Staff was discontinued.

Currently funded projects

VR for Workplace Wellness

Research has repeatedly demonstrated that spending time in nature can positively impact our personal wellbeing. While we don’t always have easy access to natural spaces, recent research is demonstrating that even encountering nature using immersive virtual reality can have similar positive effects! The Conflict Management and Human Rights Office (CMAHRO), with support from the SEF, is bringing these benefits to UW staff with three Meta Quest 2 head-mounted displays (HMDs) in each of the Dana Porter and Davis Center libraries, preloaded with the Nature Treks VR app. Learn more about VR for Workplace Wellness.

Board Foundations training

This training will help UW staff build the knowledge, skills, and confidence to take on leadership roles, support inclusive organizational cultures, and make a positive impact within our community. Several sessions will be offered, with space for 150 staff members! Visit the UW Staff Board Foundations website for details and to register for a session. This is the second round of funding for this training; it has been slightly updated to incorporate an anti-oppressive lens, so repeaters won't be declined, but those who missed it last time are especially encouraged to sign up!

Workplace yoga

Workplace yoga has been shown to improve the physical and emotional health of staff while improving productivity and job satisfaction. This program offers weekly lunchtime classes on Wednesdays, both in person and livestreamed on Teams. Join the Workplace Yoga team or contact to sign up, watch the livestreams, or get more information.

Ways to Play: Fitness and wellness programming

Since fall 2022, SEF funding has allowed Warrior Recreation to offer daily fitness opportunities to staff, including staff workouts, rock climbing, archery, table tennis, yoga, nidra meditation, kickboxing, skating, and more. Sign up for a free SEF Staff Membership and register for classes on the Ways to Play for Staff webpage.

Pilates Party

Among the many benefits of Pilates are enhanced flexibility, core strength, and postural alignment. In addition to helping prevent workplace injury, this Pilates program can help improve staff productivity by reducing stress and enhancing energy and focus. The class will run Thursdays from 12:05 p.m. to 12:55 p.m. in the PAC, starting in August. The SEF has been funding this program since 2020. Contact Suling Duong at if you’d like to be added to the Teams chat for session details and registrations.



The SEF Committee applies the following guidelines when considering proposals:

  • The proposal cannot create a tax benefit for staff.
  • The proposal can't be used for construction or capital infrastructure.
  • The project must be implemented quickly and have a duration of no more than two years.
  • Projects may be resubmitted to be considered for funding beyond the initial two years.
  • Funds can't be used for proposals currently funded or organized by the University, or for ongoing costs.
  • Projects must benefit many staff members.
  • Funds over $5,000 must be vetted by Procurement Services.
  • Funds can’t be used to remunerate UW staff, even if they act in the capacity of their own personal business within a project.