Mobilizing Minds Community Partnership Forum

What happens when community groups learn about young adult engagement and about research and knowledge mobilization? Mobilizing Minds: pathways to young adult mental health engaged community partners to bring community agencies and advocates into the Mobilizing Minds project and inform them about engaging youth in their own organizations. Young adults need a voice in mental health agencies. Community partners need a voice in research.

Mobilizing Minds is a $1.5M CIHR/MHCC funded knowledge mobilization grant that pairs young adults with adult researchers and seeks to develop knowledge tools and products that are derived from academic research but presented in the right format, at the right time, to the right people to inform decisions about mental health. Tara Syed (young adult leader) and Jenn McPhee (project coordinator) along with their community partner Mind Your Mind hosted 21 people from 16 community agencies in a conversation about youth engagement and getting involved in KMb for mental health. The half day event was held at York University on October 27, 2010.

You can see a mash up of all the Mobilizing Minds Community partner logos and photos from the event are posted here.

Before you do anything check out the overview video produced by a few of Mobilizing Minds young adult leaders…and make sure you stick around to see Mark Leonhart’s bloopers (after his expert use of the word “mobilize”). The video provides a great overview of the project from the perspective of young adults.

After Jenn and Tara described the project and the community members got a brief overview of KMb by David Phipps. The group also heard a keynote by David Kelly, Executive Director, Ontario Federation of Community Mental Health and Addiction Programs and Member of the Minister’s Advisory Group for Mental Health and Addictions. The group then got down to work. They discussed how the goals of the project intersect with a number of other projects and initiatives underway.

The group got a lot of information and were charged with staying in touch on Mobilizing Minds O3 site about two things:

  1. how each organization might be able to be involved as channels for dissemination of the knowledge products to be developed by Mobilizing Minds and
  2. how each organization can include young adults in their programming and planning.

Tara Syed (Young Adult Leader, Mobilizing Minds) echoed these goals. “I am glad we’re getting our project out there and that we’re one step closer to disseminating our resources in the right way to the right people. I am excited to meet the young adults who will join our team from the community partners and engaging more youth!”

York University’s KMb Unit and ResearchImpact were pleased to be there at the beginning. Mobilizing Minds can trace it’s history back to the very first KM in AM in November 2006 when Henny Westra (York University, Department of Psychology) met Mary Lynne Porto (Canadian Mental Health Association, York Region). It was through those discussions that the desire to find a pathway to young adults mental health was formed. We have blogged about Mobilizing Minds previously on February 5 and 24, 2010 and June 8, 2009 and we are pleased to see Mobilizing Minds grow into a project that is now engaging community organizations to get information to young adults.

Madalyn Marcus (PhD student, Clinical Psychology, York University) said, “This community partnership forum is directly related to my research. It is vital in moving forward with dissemination of these findings to get feedback from those in attendance today”.

Commmunity partners have tons of knowledge and experience; their value to university research and KMb projects is huge. Christine Garinger (Mind Your Mind) summed up this contribution and the energy of the group. “What wisdom we bring! What energy we bring! We don’t want to duplicate or waste time. We want to move forward in action. Awesome!

Congratualtions to Jenn, Tara and Mind Your Mind for a great partnership event.


KMb Team Canada

ResearchImpact – Réseau Impact Recherche continues to grow with the addition of three new knowledge brokers, with more to come.

I recall clearly my excitement in February 2006, when conducting a scan of university KMb activity I learned there was a third person who was working in Canada as a university-wide knowledge broker. Joaquin Trapero of the University of Victoria and myself had been hired through the support of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Intellectual Property Mobilization (IPM) grant. We discovered David Yetman, formerly of the Harris Centre at Memorial University and who is now at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), was working in a similar capacity. This expansion of our cohort by 50% was encouraging and enlightening. The three of us communicated regularly, sharing good practices in KMb, and as a result created a university-based Community of Practice (CoP) for the emerging work of KMb led by Canadian universities.

Fast forward over four and a half years later and the three of us remain engaged in knowledge mobilization in some capacity (delivery, strategic leadership, practitioner and researcher). However, our emerging and loosely constructed CoP has now germinated into an active national network covering regions from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island. Our network has expanded by 100%, as we now work with three other universities within the ResearchImpact – Réseau Impact Recherche (RI-RIR) network. In addition to the University of Vicortia, York and Memorial, who has just hired Bojan Fürst, we now work with the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), University of Guelph and University of Saskatchewan. And to demonstrate the power of this brokering network, UQAM is hiring two brokers (welcome Luc Dancause and Jérôme Elissalde) and Saskatchewan is exploring similar capacity. Guelph is also hiring a broker to work with Linda Hawkins and UVic is hiring a KMb Coordinator to work with Joaquin.

September 23 and 24 saw RI-RIR leaders meet for two days to discuss strategic and operational opportunities. The KMb brokers were joined by the Vice Presidents of Research from York, UVic, USask and UQAM as well as the Dean of Social Sciences from University of Guelph. We spent Thursday developing a shared vision for ResearchImpact – Reseau Impact Recherche. Thursday evening the brokers went out for dinner and drinks and Friday we rolled up our sleeves to put operational meat onto the strategic bones the VPs built for us.

In the quiet moments between conversation and presentations, it was nice to reflect back to that February day when the national broker network grew by 50%! We continue to grow, and the excitement for me remains high. What seemed like an ideological vision that every university in Canada would have an institutional knowledge broker is now grounded in possibility based on almost five years of activity, research and development, recent growth and a shared vision by more and more universities in Canada.

It’s exciting times for university knowledge brokers in Canada! We are now pleased to introduce you to KMb Team Canada. Bienvenue à tous nos courtiers MdC.

Andrei Sedoff (York U)                 Bojan Fürst (MUN)            Caroline Roger (UQAM)

Dominique Robitaille (UQAM)      David Phipps (York U)        Jennifer Adams Warburton (MUN)

Joaquin Trapero (UVIC)                      Jérôme Elissalde (UQAM)            Krista Jensen (York   U)

Linda Hawkins (U Guelph)                                                     Luc Dancause (UQAM)

Laura Zink (U Saskatchewan)                        Michael Johnny (York U)

Susan Blum (U Saskatchewan)

United Way and York University launch Change Inc. to address complex social issues in York Region

ResearchImpact-York is pleased to be part of Change Inc., a social innovation incubator. Change Inc. is a partnership between the United Way of York Region and York University that will build capacity for social innovators, remove policy barriers, incubate new ideas and mentor new social entrepreneurs so that the best and new ideas in York Region are supported to a point where investments can be bought to bear to support scale up of the innovations. York’s knowledge mobilization unit will connect these new ideas to research, expertise and graduate students to support and sustain these new approaches to complex social issues.

Thanks to YorkU Research for posting this release.

Collaboration to incubate new ideas and support social entrepreneurs

United Way of York Region and York University have launched Change Inc., a collaboration that will incubate and invest in promising innovations to tackle complex social issues and build capacity in York Region.

Daniele Zanotti, CEO of United Way, and Stan Shapson, vice-president research & innovation at York University, made the announcement at Deloitte’s head offices in Vaughan as part of United Way Week (Oct. 4 to 8).

“We are proud to announce Change Inc. − a critical strategy in United Way’s impact agenda − in collaboration with York University and our advisory group of business leaders,” said Zanotti. “For our region to be great for all residents, we need a new infrastructure to incubate ideas and shift the way we solve social problems.”

“Change Inc. is transformative for York University, for United Way and for capacity building in our community,” said Shapson. “Change Inc. will provide seed funding, space and support services to social innovators and entrepreneurs. It will provide better access to York University’s research, graduate students and the programs − such as knowledge mobilization − that support their work with the region. It will match social innovators with business-leader mentors. This approach advances and broadens York University’s innovation agenda, builds on our strong partnership with United Way, and engages York Region’s corporate leaders in social innovation, which is a persistent gap in Canada’s innovation agenda.”

Change Inc. will work with its Innovation Advisory Board, established in June, to actively develop a sustainable strategy. Co-chaired by Zanotti and Shapson, its current members include:

  • Charles Beer, board chair, United Way of York Region.
  • Anthony Gallo, vice-president, Social Media, OpenText
  • Pat Horgan, vice-president, Manufacturing, Development and Operations, IBM
  • Debora Kelly, editor-in-chief, York Region Media Group
  • Young Park, sector vice-president, CGI
  • Avi Pollock, head, Applied Innovation and Strategic Planning, RBC

“Change Inc. builds on the United Way’s Strength Investments announced earlier this week,” said Zanotti. “Together with our current program funding, Strength Investments and Change Inc. provide a continuum of support for people, groups and agencies doing good work across York Region.” Information about the Strength Investments is available on the United Way’s Web site.

“Congratulations to United Way, York University and the business advisory board for disrupting the status quo with the announcement of Change Inc. − an opportunity to research, try and scale new ideas to address social challenges,” said Lorrie King, partner, Deloitte, and member of the 2010 United Way Campaign Cabinet. “Deloitte is a champion of United Way and a champion of innovation. At Deloitte, innovation is at the very cornerstone of our corporate strategic directions, and our own leading-edge research, across all sectors, clearly identifies innovation as the driver of long-term success and sustainability.”

Over the coming months, Change Inc. will announce its office location and release information about a community innovation summit, pilot projects and funding opportunities.

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin

ResearchImpact visits UPEI!

There’s nothing like a road trip to inspire one’s sense of adventure.  At CAURA this past May, Sophie Theriault, Director of Technology Transfer and Commercialization Coordination for UPEI’s Three Oaks Innovations Centre found out Michael Johnny was travelling to PEI in August for a holiday and asked if he would be willing to make a brief presentation to ‘knowledge movers’ about York’s efforts in knowledge mobilization (including RI/RIR).  The natural reaction to her invitation was a wholehearted yes!

So following 18 hours on the road from Mississauga to Charlottetown and an impromptu Ceiledh at friends’ in town, Michael and his daughter Meghan visited UPEI for the morning.

Along with other presenters from UPEI, their Centre for Education Research and ShapesYSS PEI, Michael shared a talk on York’s experiences developing and delivering institutional KMb services, including its leadership with ResearchImapct.

The presentations generated some lively conversation from the audience, which included VPR Dr. Katherine Schultz and VPA Dr. Jim Randall.  The conversation encompassed the broad spectrum of engaged scholarship, KMb being an integral aspect.

It was exciting to hear senior administrators ask how UPEI could become a member within RI/RIR.  Following a tour of the university, the balance of the week constituted of…well, you can see for yourself!

Personal thanks to Sophie and to Krista MacDonald for making Michael and Meghan feel at home during our visit!

Way to go Environment Canada – who knew?

Remember when we told you how surprised we were to learn about the body of KMb related literature arising from the field of environmental policy?  No?  My how you forget!  What were you doing on July 13, 2009 (almost one year ago)?  Like other faithful readers of Mobilize This! You were likely reading our story on the work of Sarah Michaels where we reflected on the convergent evolution of knowledge brokering in environmental policy and in our practice at ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche.

Well, it’s happened again, and this time we didn’t have to go to Nebraska to find it.  We found the Science & Technology Liaison Division of Environment Canada in Burlington, in our own back yard.  York’s KMb Unit packed up and went on a road trip!  Despite the easy directions we still managed to get lost but thanks to Burlington/Hamilton native Michael Johnny we found our way to meet with the S&T Liaison Branch who have been pioneers in knowledge transfer/knowledge brokering since 2002.

The S&T Division is housed at the National Water Research Institute (NWRI), part of Environment Canada’s Water Science and Technology Directorate (WSTD) which is Canada’s largest freshwater research facility. “Environment Canada’s S&T Liaison Division is a knowledge translation and knowledge brokering unit.  S&T Liaison focuses on customizing and targeting science knowledge to the user audience to help improve uptake and utility, and on the development of mechanisms for sustained interaction between science and policy/program.  This focus ensures not only the push of knowledge to the correct science user, but also allows the user to inform the research agenda (policy pull).”

This philosophy will sound familiar to loyal readers of Mobilize This!  But wait, there’s more.

“Close engagement between researchers and research users, from the planning phase through to the communication of research, is essential if research is intended to inform policy making and regulation.”

It’s like we’re KMb twins separated at birth.

From a series of Science-Policy workshops starting in 2002 to an expertise database to a series of S&T into Action stories to RSS feeds of the latest Environment Canada research and knowledge products the S&T Liaison Division is using similar tools as ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche to achieve similar goals.  And we share another feature in common.  The leads at S&T Liaison Division, Alex Bielak and York’s KMb Unit, David Phipps have both told their stories on Peter Levesque’s KMb Blog.  You can also read more about Alex in “It’s My Day”, Canada’s Public Service eMagazine.

To paraphrase their own work, Alex and his colleagues help tell the story of how Environment Canada’s research generates tangible environmental, social and economic benefits.  Their research impact[1] studies demonstrate how science & technology influences the environmental decision-making process by supporting regulations, guidelines, strategies, policies, programs and management decisions.

Stay tuned to Mobilize This! for more stories as we explore collaborations between Environment Canada’s S&T Liaison Division and ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche.

Way to go Environment Canada.  Who knew we’d find this gem in our own back yard?

[1] see, they even use our name, but we’ve agreed to waive royalties for their use of our trademark

United Way of York Region – Changing the Game, Again!

Mobilize This! readers, below is the text of a speech made by Daniele Zanotti, CEO, United Way of York Region, at their 34th Annual General Meeting held June 24, 2010 at Oakview Terrace in Richmond Hill (York Region).  You can also find this speech on the UWYR website.

Daniele is a strong advocate and supporter of York’s KMb Unit. He is also a strong supporter of York University having sat on the President’s Task Force for Community Engagement.  You can see him speak in his own words about knowledge mobilization on one of our ResearchImpact videos.  And below, you can read his words as delivered at their AGM.  Always engaging.  Always telling a story not just giving a speech.

And towards the end, a teaser.  Stay tuned for some exciting, disruptive and transformative actions UWYR will be announcing in United Way week in October 2010.

To turn Daniele’s words back on himself, for knowledge mobilization, Daniele Zanotti and the United Way of York Region are priceless.


It does not happen often. I get up to speak, start telling a story about my nonna of all people, rest her soul, my Nonna, and in the thick of it, when the story is coming to a thematic and comedic climax…


last year, during United Way Week, at a congregation located in Vaughan Mills, that is right, in the mall area, speaking on issues of poverty in York Region to a group of over 150 residents and community leaders, I am, using examples from my Nonna’s favourite food, Kentucky Fried Chicken –long story but we think she had a crush on Colonel Saunders who resembled my Nonno somewhat had a little soul patch going … anyway… weaving this and her favourite soap opera, the Young and the Restless… though she could not understand a word of English she caught all the storylines and convoluted love triangles and swore she had a lot in common with Mrs Chancellor… and I am slowly making my way to define poverty in York Region… because it is all connected…

He stands up. Long white beard, white pressed shirt, with suspenders:

“pukh, thup, chup.”

Everyone starts laughing and clapping.

“So simple, “he says, “… old Punjabi definition for poverty:

Pukh, thup, chup.

No food, no roof, no voice.

We should spend less time trying to define it and more trying to solve it.”

He is correct. I am loving this guy, even though he did disrupt my Nonna story, rest her soul.

I compose myself, swoop back in, seamlessly, speaking to the social service infrastructure United Way supports, from programs to public education to system change…

disrupted… again

“navaa…” he says.

Tension in the room; the crowd is engaged….looking for the knockout punch…

“…navaa, not only the same old.”

I… (gesture Italian what is up?)…

He obviously understands Italian too….because he responds…

He says: “navaa means ‘New’…

Mr Zanotti, you represent a leading change organization. Do you have the courage to lead? Do you have the courage to disrupt?”

So I told them our story, one that I have waxed poetic on at our AGMs: of our 2007 roar year –giving voice to the defining issues of our region; of our 2008 listen year –where we committed to hearing the lived realities of residents across the sprawling amalgam of nine municipalities; then 2009 our Meeting House year –in faith groups and town halls and meetings like this, convening people on issues.

And as I am in the middle of a profound… I will pause for dramatic effect… statement, I hear his friggin chair moving again.

“Char pair o pair… four steps, says a Punjabi saying…

He says, “The first is easy, the second is necessary, the third is affirming and the fourth changes the game – it transform you.

Few take the fourth step Mr Zanotti.”

The rest of my speech was a blur, focused only on getting the hell through it to go sit with this disruptive genius.

By the end of the night, three coffees later, I had a mentor. And as we chatted, all I kept saying was – HANJI – the Punjabi word for “yes”.

Since then, and this morning, especially, my friends, I have been and am in a disruptive mood, and I am asking you to join me.

Here is what I said verbatim, at last year’s AGM:

If 2007 was our roar year, 2008 our listen year, let 2009 be our meeting house year.

And here is how we will map this out over 2009:

During UW Week, we will release a follow up to what the Star dubbed a most provocative “… if addressed” report; and we did: Addressing our Strength, called ‘a landmark follow’ up by YRMG.

In October, I said, our board will approve our new community priorities with outcomes and target populations and evaluative indicators; and they did.

In December we will approve our new strategic directions, 2010-2013, setting seemingly unachievable targets on revenue growth, community impact and convening positive change– and we did.

And let us never forget, our sine qua non, another record campaign and strong investment for local services. And we did.

I said: And when we meet next year, at this same meeting, at some other symbolic and tough to find location- I have delivered on that- we will speak of our successes:

  • a record campaign (hanji),
  • a bold Board willing to listen and engage (hanji)
  • oh so committed volunteers (hanji)
  • the strong voice of our labour partners (hanji)
  • staff that bleed United Way pantone red for the people we serve (still the best in the business. I love working with each and every one of you so sorry if the feeling is not mutual), agency and community partners providing programming on the ground….(hanji)

Ladies and gentlemen, you have delivered the goods and another record year, each and every one of you.

So why the hell am I in a disruptive mood?

Because we are a leading organization –a change maker.

And we have an unprecedented opportunity to do something so radically powerful, so York Region, that we could accelerate our impact and growth

… if we have the courage to lead, if we have the courage to disrupt.

char pair o pair…four steps, says a Punjabi saying…

The first is easy and empowering: we have found voice on speaking to the Region’s defining issues.

The second is necessary for grounding: we have established mechanisms for listening, with intent, to voices in communities and neighbourhoods across the region.

The third is contemplative and affirming: we have strengthened our convening role, our capacity to bring stakeholders together.

So what the heck do you want now, Zanotti?… the board and staff are all concerned… and where is he going with this?

The fourth step… game-changer… it transforms you.


That is why we are here at Oakview Terrace, the destination of choice for new beginnings – the most weddings and proms of any single facility in Richmond Hill.

How many of you have been here for a wedding, to get married, for your prom?

A place of new beginnings… navaa…

United Way has a great mechanism for supporting people in need today– a strong network of partners providing a safety net, albeit stretched across our sprawling region.

United Way must develop a simply spectacular mechanism to invest in our region’s strength, not needs, strength. When we say, in our mission, “…We ascertain and address critical human needs by fostering innovative responsive ….”

Innovative: We need a mechanism to seize the opportunity of innovation– with great urgency and possibilities.

And we can do so by investing in our region’s strengths:

  • our youth: engaged, connected, wanting to make a global and local difference
  • our well educated families and new Canadians making york region their home
  • our culture of entrepreneurs –from developers to auto to tech, we remain home to an influential, intelligent and affluent culture of innovators and doers
  • our strong and ever growing corporations, many already engaged in UWs at a philanthropic level

This is why 2010 will be our navaa disrupt year– the fourth, most difficult, step.

When we announce, during United Way week in October, a transformative, game changing investment plan for UW going forward…a small start, but one that can scale.

One that unites not by an assembly line – corporate philanthropy and donor dollars to agency programs.

But one that converges –corporate, donor, resident and agency insight to create innovative solutions –one that dissolves sector boundaries to incubate new ideas.

Our strength investment will inspire and support diverse groups of problem solvers to incubate ….navaa ideas.

And disrupt: solutions, opportunities, outside of our current and necessary programs that address our regions emerging social issues in a small scale, and can be scaled-up, over time.

This is not an either/or. This is an AND:

  • support and strengthen the existing critical network of services and programs


  • foster new social innovation, leveraging the region’s strength, by uniting, really uniting, outside of silos, diverse groups of problems solvers : social innovators, entrepreneurs.

Because we know the most difficult and important emerging social problems of our region, and the country and world, cannot be understood, let alone solved, by anyone sector on its own.

Friends, the Punjabi word for yes is HANJI. I do not know and will not provide the Punjabi word for no.

In keeping with the ceremonies often celebrated at this stunning Oakview Terrace, please respond after me…

Friends of United Way of York Region, do we have the courage to lead change on our most pressing social issues?


Do we have the courage to disrupt our current mechanisms and seek new innovative solutions, across sectors and silos?


Do we have the courage to take the fourth step –game-changing, transformative –together in 2010?


Ladies and gentlemen, I now pronounce us the navaa United Way of York Region …

One I remain humbled and honoured to serve.

Liftoff – ‘Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change’ project gets underway

On June 17th, policymakers from municipal Environment offices and community organizations met with colleagues from York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit to launch the ‘Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change’ project. The meeting took place in the York Research Tower at York University’s Keele Campus. The goal of this project is to make York climate change research and expertise more accessible to policymakers, so that academic research can inform municipal level climate change decisions. The municipalities of Toronto, York Region, Mississauga, Peel, and Durham were present, as well as the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and the Association for Canadian Educational Resources (The Gateway Project). The KMb Unit was represented by David Phipps, Director of Research Services and Knowledge Exchange; Krista Jensen, Knowledge Mobilization Officer; and, Andrei Sedoff, Knowledge Mobilization Officer.

An energetic group that had already spent most of the morning meeting as the GTA Climate Change Steering Group, our policy partners were eager to launch the suite of KMb initiatives which include a dedicated space on the O3 social networking hub, the production of climate change clear language research summaries, and the hosting of a number of networking events and research presentations between York researchers and municipal policymakers. The KMb Unit shared examples of completed clear language research summaries based on climate change research by York faculty and also offered to draft summaries based on relevant research encountered by policy partners. David Phipps led a brief presentation on the nature of Knowledge Mobilization as it is practiced at York through ResearchImpact. David cited a number of successful collaborations that werebrokered by the KMb Unit between policymakers, researchers, and community groups. He also demonstrated how the York KMb model has taken the traditional role of Knowledge Mobilization (producer push and user pull) and extended that to include the co-production of knowledge. There was a lot of exciting talk about the needs of the policymaking community to gain better access to research and expertise at the university. Some participants, like Chandra Sharma from TRCA, have already collaborated with York on projects in the past and were excited by the growth of collaboration while others were excited by the new opportunities this project opened up for their organizations. The policy partners had a diverse spectrum of research needs. They ranged from gaining more knowledge about the impacts of climate change on public health to the adaptation of municipal infrastructure to a changing climate. There was also a lively discussion about the internship component of the project; the plan is to place York graduate students in the offices of each policy partner, enabling the students to enhance research in their fields with a practical component.

The meeting led to a number of positive outcomes, the most important one being a better shared understanding of where the KMb model can best serve the needs of municipal policymakers in the realm of climate change. “Advancing climate research and knowledge is key to addressing municipal needs to address impacts of changing climate. Under the umbrella of “Climate Consortium for Research Action and Integration (CC-RAI)”, a number of collaborative climate change initiatives are currently underway,” said Chandra Sharma, who is TRCA’s watershed specialist. “TRCA, along with our partners, regional municipalities of York, Peel, Durham, and the City Toronto, is pleased to collaborate with York University. This unique pilot project with is an excellent model to maximize the impact of university research.”

For us at the KMb Unit, meeting the policy partners was a phenomenal chance to learn about the complex and multifaceted policy development process that is required to deal with the challenges posed by climate change. Wet are excited to contribute to a positive outcome for this project and hope to capture the thoughts of our policy partners on video at the concluding meeting.