United Way, a Think-Tank on Community Issues in York Region / Centraide, un labo d’idées sur les enjeux communautaires dans la région de York

The following story first appeared on the United Way York Region website on March 31, 2014 and is reposted here with permission.

Ce récit a été publié la première fois sur le site United Way York Region, le 31 mars 2014. Il est repris ici avec permission.

Participants at a United Way York Region community eventUnited Way York Region’s Board of Directors consists of a diverse group of community leaders and key decision makers who provide vision, strategic leadership, advocacy, accountability and stewardship to United Way. Passionate about the community, our volunteer Board members are dedicated to United Way’s mission of improving lives and strengthening neighbourhoods across York Region.

The Community Engagement and Research (CE&R) Committee is a group within the Board that acts as a think-tank on community issues in York Region. This committee plays an integral role by providing valuable information upon which the Board bases its decisions on where and how United Way’s funding can best be invested to improve the quality of life for all York Region residents.

“The CE&R Committee is comprised of a diverse set of community volunteers as well as leaders from the education, health and social services, law enforcement and business sectors,” states Elaine Walsh, Chair of the CE&R Committee and a United Way York Region Board member. “The committee members bring exceptional research skills and experience and a valuable perspective on social and community issues to help us understand and report on the needs and issues that face York Region.”

The CE&R Committee develops and oversees knowledge mobilization and dissemination and community engagement activities that help United Way York Reg

ion identify and address critical human service needs in our community. As a leader in building civic muscle and helping positively change community conditions in our neighbourhoods, the CE&R Committee is at the forefront of conducting innovative research and developing reports on critical issues that affect York Region’s nine municipalities.

For example, in 2008 the CE&R Committee released …if addressed, a report which kicked off a year-long dialogue across York Region on the defining issue of our community: the intersection of pace of growth, the changing face of growth and the places where said growth occurs. In 2009, after more extensive research, the CE&R Committee released addressing OUR STRENGTHS, which confirmed that York Region was a community of communities, each with unique, specific needs. The report essentially helped shape United Way York Region’s three strategic priorities: helping kids be all they can be, moving people from poverty to possibility and building strong neighbourhoods. As a natural progression to the if addressed series, United Way York Region has since launched two Meeting House series that revealed the need for a strong social infrastructure in York Region.

“Working with community partners, the information gathered and analyzed by the CE&R Committee from the valuable discussions that took place from all the Meeting House sessions revealed the need for increased social infrastructure within our rapidly growing communities,” states Ms. Walsh. “In Every Neighbourhood, United Way York Region’s unprecedented $30 million in 3 years campaign was created to answer this need and ensure that residents are able to access the community supports they need close to home.”

Moreover, the CE&R Committee has also played an important role in shaping our Strength Investments funding initiative. This unique program goes beyond the traditional way that United Way York Region supports agencies and programs and invests in residents, businesses and faith groups to work collaboratively on innovative and shared solutions to complex social issues. In short, Strength Investments supports neighbourhood change from within.

“The CE&R Committee is a passionate group of individuals with a wealth of knowledge and first-hand experiences in many areas within our community. We work hard and are extremely proud to be a part of creating a positive impact in the neighbourhoods in which we work and live in,” concludes Ms. Walsh.

upStream Open House – Getting Fresh in York Region / Soirée porte ouverte d’upStream : fraîcheur garantie pour la région de York

Michael Johnny, RIR-York

York Region Food Network is addressing the issue of food security through an interesting and innovative project. Through collaborative partnerships and a grant from the Ontario Centres of Excellence, upStream Aquaponics has been launched to pilot sustainable and healthy food development throughout the year.

Le réseau alimentaire de la région de York (York Region Food Network) aborde le problème de l’insécurité alimentaire par un moyen original et innovant. Grâce à des partenariats et des collaborations, et avec une bourse des Centres d’excellence de l’Ontario, upStream Aquaponics a entrepris de guider, au cours de l’année qui vient, le développement durable de l’offre d’aliments sains.

AquaponicsYork KMb had the pleasure of attending an Open House for a project led by the York Region Food Network (YRFN) which has realized development of an aquaponics lab – an urban agriculture innovation hub.  This facility is located in Newmarket, ON, steps away from the GO train station in Newmarket.   Approximately 30 people attended to learn more about the aquaponics lab and to tour the facilities.  YRFN Executive Director Joan Stonehocker addressed the crowd in attendance, identifying that this experiment is an important step for YRFN and the local community to address sustainable food development, healthy eating and food security for neighboring communities.

The KMb Unit at York University was approached by YRFN to partner in support of a research and development opportunity for their successful Ontario Centres of Excellence application, which provided direct funding support for the development of the aquaponics lab.  According to YRFN, the lab is producing 800 heads of lettuce each month and almost 150 tilapia.  Food is distributed through the Good Food Box program to underprivileged residents in the community, local restaurants as well as through an emerging retail operation.

With food insecurity identified by YRFN and United Way York Region as a community priority, KMb is a proud partner of this project and is seeking engagement from interested researchers on an ongoing basis.  Efficacy, economic, health and environmental themes are all prevalent in the development of an aquaponics lab.  Our office was also proud to support an event on Friday April 4, which YRFN hosted around Food Waste.  York graduate students and researchers from the University of Guelph participated in the presentations and workshops that were aimed to promote education, awareness and an action agenda around food security and food waste management in York Region.

KMb engages in a wide range of activities bridging and enabling research to help inform public policy and professional practice.  Based on the samples I was able to consume following the Open House, YRFN and their upStream project are well positioned to have a significant and positive impact on communities in York Region.  Add a nice balsamic vinaigrette and we’re taking KMb to the next level!

Aquaponic Lettuce

communityBUILD / BÂTIR ensemble

David Phipps, RIR-York

CommunityBUILD is a unique partnership between community, business and the university that is creating a system of supports for social enterprise in York Region. Combining the assets of different sectors creates opportunities that none could support working alone.

BÂTIR ensemble est un partenariat unique entre la communauté, le monde des affaires et l’Université. Son objectif est de créer un réseau de soutien et d’appui aux entreprises d’économie sociale de la région d’York. En alliant leurs atouts, les trois secteurs ouvrent des possibilités qui ne s’offrent pas à chacun d’eux pris isolément.

build: construct (something) by putting parts or material together (Oxford English Dictionary)

BUILD: a program of ventureLAB “designed to support entrepreneurs of technology ventures – especially first time entrepreneurs.” (http://bit.ly/1pKUsW6)

communityBUILD: a program of ventureLAB (VL), United Way York Region (UWYR) and York University designed to create a system of supports for social enterprise in York Region.

This past week communityBUILD ran the first Mash Up. Mash Up sought to identify new ideas to address to grand challenges in York Region: youth employment and food security.

Jeremy O'Krafka, Mentor Network

Jeremy O’Krafka, Mentor Network

An open call was made for innovators and their supporters to submit ideas that addressed one or both of these grand challenges. Twenty nine ideas were submitted. Nine were selected to come to the Mash Up. Within 45 minutes of the first day these were down to four: one addressing food security, one addressing youth employment and two of them addressing both.

Over two days of Mash Up and one day of work the four teams of between three to six team members worked with mentors from VL, UWYR and York to develop their ideas. These four ideas were then pitched to a panel of social entrepreneurs and community builders. Each had the chance to secure $5,000 of consulting services, become a VL client and receive VL mentoring.

  • Upstream New Gardens Initiative is a project of York Region Food Network that sought to build on its existing hydroponics facility and use sale of hydroponic lettuce to fund Jeremy O’Krafka, Mentor Networkfood awareness programs.
  • Mentor Network seeks to match youth job seekers with experienced mentors who will use their own networks to help make a match between youth and the 80% of jobs that are never advertised through traditional recruitment methods such as job fairs. Mentor Network will pilot with Seneca College students.
  • Hon’r Snacks places healthy food snack towers in offices and proposes to use youth from the NEET (not in employment, education, training) group to stock the towers.
  • Cultivating Opportunities builds on the established therapeutic connection between nature and young people living with mental illness and addictions to provide farmers with steady employees. Youth with lived experience of mental illness and addictions will work on the farm and be paid in vegetables that they can then sell as healthy food baskets in farmers markets or to office workers.

From a one minute pitch on Monday morning to a 10 minute presentation on Thursday all four groups successfully went on a journey with their mentors through the Lean Start Up and the Business Model Canvass.

Keys to success of the Mash Up were:

  • A clear call for projects addressing critical issues important to York Region
  • A well structured journey
  • Mentors to guide along the journey so that teams were actively supported every step along the way
  • Experienced judges to provide critical feedback
  • A pool of talent in York Region and the GTA open to growth and opportunity
  • Three partners each bringing unique assets to the table

communityBUILD is a partnership between the academic, community and business sectors. It is not a campus centric incubator. It is not charity. It combines the power of lived experience in community with the discipline of business with the perspective of academia. Each partner contributes unique assets that combine in complementary ways to create a system of supports for social enterprise. The Mash Up is the first roll out of communityBUILD that has already helped four new ideas move toward implementation. They aren’t social enterprises yet but they have started on a path that will support their early exploration.

Neither VL, UWYR nor YorkU have a mandate to support social enterprise. Only by working together and combining their assets could a regional system of supports for social enterprise be developed that promises to grow from the Mash Up into a new player in the social and economic infrastructure of York Region.

See coverage of communityBUILD in the Toronto Star.

 

Commnuity BUILD - Mashing Up at the Markham Convergence Centre

Community BUILD – Mashing Up at the Markham Convergence Centre

 

A New University Paradigm / Un nouveau paradigme pour l’Université

Gary Myers, KMbeing

In this guest blog Gary Myers (@KMbeing) advocates for a greater integration of research services, knowledge mobilization and technology transfer. Greater integration from research grant application to research impact is a new university paradigm. This blog was first posted on Gary’s website, www.kmbeing.com, on February 15, 2014 and can be found at http://kmbeing.com/2014/02/15/a-new-university-paradigm/

Dans ce billet, notre blogueur invité Gary Myers (@KMbeing) plaide en faveur d’une meilleure intégration des services à la recherche, de la mobilisation des connaissances et du transfert technologique. Une véritable intégration, depuis la demande de subvention jusqu’à l’impact de la recherche : voilà un nouveau paradigme pour le fonctionnement de l’Université. Ce billet a été publié sur le site Web de Gary Myers, www.kmbeing.com, le 15 février 2014. Vous pouvez le lire à l’adresse suivante : http://kmbeing.com/2014/02/15/a-new-university-paradigm/.

Picture of university buildingUniversities are considered one of our most reliable and cherished knowledge sectors with great expectations of delivering quality education and world-leading research. There has been increased pressure on universities for financial income and resources along with increased pressure from government granting agencies that expect a valuable public and/or private return of investment for providing research funding. With the creation of CIHR in 2000, Canadian health researchers were required to articulate knowledge translation strategies in their grant applications. Some NSERC funding programs require commercialization strategies. In 2011 SSHRC launched its renewed program architecture which requires all grant applications to have a knowledge mobilization strategy. This created an expectation that universities will effectively address social and economic issues and spend their money wisely – along with a mandate from the granting councils to incorporate knowledge mobilization and technology commercialization strategies into research grant applications.

So why aren’t some universities still not doing this?

If universities are to deliver the most promising benefits of knowledge and research for society and meaningfully follow funding guidelines an approach needs to be considered about how research is conducted. This approach needs to include those inside and outside the university who contribute to the research and social/economic innovation process. This is where knowledge mobilization comes in.  Yet many universities still have an unenthusiastic and unresponsive attitude to integrating knowledge mobilization and social innovation strategies into the university structure itself.  Many universities still do not have an actual knowledge mobilization unit within their university, or worse have a great misunderstanding of what knowledge mobilization actually is and how to do it successfully – which is also often the reason why they fail to receive funding from granting agencies and continue to struggle financially.

The old university paradigm of receiving funding without a knowledge mobilization strategy is dead.

Universities see themselves to be in a risky situation as a result of economic pressures combined with increasing demand for quality research to provide social benefit.  In a climate of uncertain funding and a greater demand for valuable research, understanding how knowledge mobilization can bring opportunities to improve research, create social and economic innovation and affect government policy needs to be considered. When this is done it leads to important social and economic change.

Community-University partnerships and engagement are not new and have been around for at least a decade. Some examples include CUPP Brighton UK, CUP Alberta, Canadian Social Economy Hub, Emory University Center for Community Partnerships, and Concordia University’s Office of Community Engagement. In an informative journal club post David Phipps also discusses Mobilising knowledge in community-university partnerships.

So some universities get it and are definitely ahead of the game as the public sector benefits from these community-university collaborations.  Yet there are other universities who continue to ignore the broader benefits of such synergies. This is where greater work needs to be done to help the universities who continue to be stuck in old academic-infrastructure paradigms and help sustain community-university partnerships programs that do exist by the institutions themselves.

Developing long-term knowledge mobilization and social innovation strategies involves commitment and greater cooperation from all bodies of the university – staff, students, faculty, deans, vice-presidents, and governing councils; and most importantly from the university president.  It’s about multi-disciplinary and inter-departmental conversations to provide differing views from varying capacities to create an academic environment that provides social benefit that includes engagement within and beyond the walls of the university from many directions.

The greater return on investment for social benefit requires a broader approach to have faculty, university research services, knowledge mobilization unit knowledge brokers and university industry liaison offices work together across sectors instead of as separate university contacts and entities. A great start of this integrated approach comes from the University of Alberta which has amalgamated the Industry Liaison Office, the Research Grants Office and components of Research and Trust Accounting into an integrated Research Services Office. U of A thinks “the move to a “one-stop shop” provides researchers with more effective and streamlined services, with enhanced accountability and productivity.” However, a truly integrated approach that maximizes the impact of university research would also include a knowledge mobilization unit.

Canada has ten universities that are part of ResearchImpact – a knowledge mobilization network with further examples of such integrated structures. UQAM engages both research services and technology transfer in their support of knowledge mobilization; Offices of research services at both Wilfrid Laurier University and York University include technology commercialization as well as York’s KMb Unit as research grant support; and University of Victoria combines research partnerships and knowledge mobilization (but this does not include grants).

Another interesting pan university approach to supporting innovation is the appointment of Angus Livingstone and Innovation Catalyst. Formerly head of the UILO, Angus took up this new post in February 2014. It is too early to know what impact this new position will have but one can only hope that it embraces social as well as economic and technology innovation.

A further set-back for Canadian universities is the recent Canadian government announcement in its 2014 budget of a $10-million College Social Innovation Fund connecting colleges with community-based applied research needs of community organizations.  Colleges and polytechnic institutions have traditionally been places for trade learning and apprenticeship. It now looks like they are stepping up into the league of universities to create social and economic innovation. It may be great news for colleges – not so much for universities; especially those who haven’t already started community-university engagement.

This infusion of capital into Canadian colleges for social innovation development has set back any future benefit and funding for Canadian universities who have not yet understood the connection between knowledge mobilization and social innovation, thereby creating a missed opportunity for certain universities to gain the lead on investment in knowledge mobilization and social and economic innovation.

As the saying goes…you snooze, you lose! So is your university a winner or a loser? 

Combining university knowledge mobilization units with university research services and industry liaison offices that engage with both community partnerships and business innovation opportunities all in a “one-stop-shop” can bring great returns on investment – socially and economically – for universities and communities – but some universities are sadly still far behind.

Building a Stronger Future for Canadian Children and Youth Through Social Innovation / L’innovation sociale aide à bâtir un meilleur avenir pour les enfants et les jeunes du Canada

This story was originally posted on the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences blog on March 12, 2014 and is reposted here with permission.

Ce récit a été publié la première fois sur le site Fédération des Sciences Humaines, le 12 mars 2014. Il est repris ici avec permission. Version française disponible ici.

David J. Phipps, Executive Director, Research & Innovation Services, York University

On February 24, 2014 ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) and Senator Kelvin Ogilvie co-hosted an event demonstrating the impact of social sciences and humanities research on the lives of Canadian children and youth. We were pleased to be joined by the Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada at this event.

The Honourable Kelvin Ogilvie (Senator), Debra Pepler (Professor, York University), Danielle Quigley (Postdoctoral Fellow), Susan Climie (National Director of Training, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada) and Chad Gaffield (President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)

The Honourable Kelvin Ogilvie (Senator), Debra Pepler (Professor, York University), Danielle Quigley (Postdoctoral Fellow), Susan Climie (National Director of Training, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada) and Chad Gaffield (President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)

In his opening remarks to this event Senator Ogilvie commented, “A new language of innovation is emerging, that of social innovation…Research is certainly an important input into social innovation but research alone isn’t enough.”  The most successful products, the most effective policies, and the most beneficial community services are developed when researchers, community partners, policymakers and businesses work together to address challenges and find solutions.

“That is knowledge mobilization, making research useful to society. Knowledge mobilization seeks to support collaborations between researchers and those organizations able to turn research into action and thus maximize the economic and social impacts of research. Knowledge mobilization helps to enable social innovation,” said Senator Ogilvie.

Seven projects that have demonstrated a positive impact on the lives of children and youth were profiled at the event.  These seven projects featured partnerships between post-secondary institutions and municipal, provincial and federal agencies, from the Nunatsiavut Government (and we were joined by that Government’s president, Sarah Leo), RCMP, school boards, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Red Cross, Scouts Canada, Parachute Canada, a library and a public health agency.

Wladyslaw Lizon (MP, Mississauga-East - Cooksville), The Honourable Kelvin Ogilvie (Senator), Robert Haché (Vice-President Research and Innovation, York University), Ted Hsu (MP, Kingston and the Isands) and Chad Gaffield (President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)

Wladyslaw Lizon (MP, Mississauga-East – Cooksville), The Honourable Kelvin Ogilvie (Senator), Robert Haché (Vice-President Research and Innovation, York University), Ted Hsu (MP, Kingston and the Isands) and Chad Gaffield (President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)

There are three elements that combine to make effective knowledge mobilization: 1) the right research; 2) the right researcher (and students); and, 3) the right partners. These seven projects were nominated by their institutions and selected by RIR because they fit these criteria.

In the words of Susan Clime, Director of Training for Big Brothers Big Sisters (partner with Deb Pepler from York University and PREVNet NCE, on the Healthy Relationships Training Module project), “It was wonderful to meet the Senators, MPs and Assistants – all of whom were so encouraging and supportive. It was helpful to hear what is important to each of them, as we all look to enhancing opportunities for children and youth and families in Canada”.

At the end of the day that was the goal of this event: to make connections between research, policy and practice.  For more information on those seven projects please click on the links below to see the poster and a ResearchSnapshot clear language research summary on one academic paper related to the project.

For a gallery of photos from the event please click here.

Trevor Bell, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador: Aullak, Sangilivallianginnatuk (Going Off, Growing Strong) “Going off” on the land helps Inuit youth improve mental health

Debra Pepler, York University: Giving adults the right training helps to prevent bullying

Barbara Morrongiello, University of Guelph: New training program results in better home supervision of 2-5 year old children

Donna Kotsopoulos, Wilfrid Laurier University: Improving math skills in pre-school aged children helps learning outcomes

Gira Bhatt, Kwantlen Polytechnic University: Protecting youth from violence and gang involvement is a collective effort

Nazeem Muhajarine, University of Saskatchewan: Smart neighbourhood design can enhance children’s physical activity

Bonnie Leadbeater, University of Victoria: Bullying prevention creates safer spaces for children and youth (presented by Tina Daniels from Carleton University)

RIR logo

Imagining Canada’s Future: Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council invites you to look at vital questions impacting Canadians over the next 5, 10 and 20 years…

TundraQuestion: “What knowledge do we need to thrive in an interconnected landscape and how can emerging technology help leverage that goal and its benefits?”

Answer: We need Information and Communication Technologies solutions for Canada’s arctic to mobilize its cultural resources for community development

JOIN US for an in-depth interactive presentation

THURSDAY MARCH 20, 6-8pm

@ MaRS 101 College Street, Toronto

York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit Manager, Michael Johnny, will introduce members of the Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage research team:  led by Dr. Anna Hudson; with co-investigator, Prof. Angela Norwood; doctoral candidate, Erin Yunes; and Industry Partner, IsumaTV, represented by Gabriela Gámez and John Hodgins

RSVP here Light refreshments will be served

Imagining Canada’s Future: Insights from the University of Guelph, a SSHRC Regional Event

Together with members of the Research Impact (RIR) partnership from Laurier, Carleton & York, the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship (ICES) at the University of Guelph, has secured funding for a SSHRC Future Challenges regional event.

This collaborative venture involves  four local events (one for each institutional partner), to be held on sequential days, all in the third week of March and all four events address the SSHRC Future Challenge “What knowledge do we need to thrive in an interconnected landscape and how can emerging technology help leverage that goal and its benefits?”

The UofG event will take place on Tuesday, March 18 from 4-6pm at Innovation Guelph.

Event Details:

Helen Hambly“Tackling A Wicked Problem: Digital Development in Rural Ontario”

The challenge of overcoming the digital divide between rural and urban areas has been the topic of a multi-layered community-university research partnership with highly practical interactions involving municipalities in Eastern and Southwestern Ontario. Many rural communities realize that 21st century revitalization will involve socio-economic opportunities that are mediated by the Internet and mobile technologies. However, many public, private and civil society stakeholders agree that rural broadband is a ‘wicked problem’ defined as “the persistence of a status quo of divided interests, even in the face of the benefits to everyone from a change and the considerable risks to everyone from a lack of change.” This panel discusses the challenges and the opportunities of rural broadband deployment in Ontario, with comparisons to other communities across Canada who unite to in what some have called the “new Canadian dream” of digital inclusion and intelligent development.

Panel: Helen Hambly (Project Leader), Wilson Halder (MSc Candidate, SEDRD), Laxmi Pant (Post-Doctoral Researcher), Geoff Hogan, IT Director, Grey County (project partner), Campbell Patterson, City of Kingston/CPC Associates (project partner)

For more information and to register for the event, please see the event registration page or contact ices@uoguelph.ca