Stand Up for United Way / Prenez position pour Centraide

By David Phipps (ResearchImpact, York)

An inspiring speech by United Way of York Region calls on all knowledge brokers and social innovators in York Region to stand up for change. Join York University and stand up for knowledge mobilization and social innovation at your university and local communities.

Un discours inspirant du United Way (Centraide) de la région de York appelle les courtiers de connaissances et les innovateurs sociaux de la région prendre position pour le changement. Rejoignez l’Université York et prenez position pour la mobilisation des connaissances et l’innovation sociale dans votre université et les communautés locales.

At 7:30 am on a Tuesday morning in the old Aurora Cultural Centre in the heart of York Region, Daniele Zanotti, CEO of United Way of York Region (UWYR) asked everyone to stand up for change.  It was the 35th Annual General Meeting of UWYR and the room was filled with volunteers, board members, companies, municipal and Regional employees and UWYR staff s well as partner organizations like ResearchImpact – York.  We were all there to approve the business of UWYR but we were also there to celebrate our collective success.

UWYR Region is a key institutional partner in York University’s knowledge mobilization and social innovation strategy. Together we created Strength Investments that have invested $150,000 in 6 community-citizen projects such as Building Sustainable Capacities amongst Afro-Canadian Caribbean Youth in York Region and South Asian Family Empowerment Project.  A list of all the projects is available. Together we launched Change Inc. in October and announced an investment of $150,000 in Change Inc at York’s KMb Expo on June 15. Tammy Lowe, one of ResearchImpact – York’s KMb Interns now works at UWYR as a Campaign Manager, a career choice she links back to her internship.  We have co-authored an article, a meeting grant and a knowledge mobilization grant linking university and community strengths in knowledge mobilization.  Outcomes of knowledge mobilization such as Strength Investments are social innovations.

You can read Daniele’s speech and while you’re reading it, stand up for community-university collaborations that producer tangible change for communities and citizens.

Small steps towards a big problem: Addressing the social determinants of health at the community level

David Phipps (ResearchImpact, York) wrote the following guest blog post for “Health Policiesabout a new initiative with UWYR that is focused on community solutions for community health challenges arising from the social determinants of health.

Health isn’t a problem.  Not being healthy is a wicked problem.  Wicked problems are persistent social problems characterized (among other things) by:

  • Lack of clarity on all stakeholders associated with the problem
  • Lack of clarity on the causes of the problems
  • Lack of clarity on end points and outcomes
  • Interventions change the nature of the wicked problem challenging evaluation

Social determinants of health (SDOH) are wicked problems.

There is an increasing amount of attention paid to SDOH at the international, national and local levels:

  • International: The World Health Organization recently released the technical paper for the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health to be held in Rio de Janeiro in October 2011.
  • National: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH) is one of six NCCs funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). In 2010 it released an environmental scan of the role of public health agencies in supporting policy responses to social determinants of health in Canada.
  • Local: On June 22 York Region’s Human Services Planning Board release their report, Making Ends Meet which identifies poverty and income insecurity as the single human service priority for York Region.  Health indicators and outcomes are included in the planning.

But how do you tackle such large, wicked problems.  According to WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health, all you need to do is:

  1. Improve living conditions
  2. Tackle inequitable distribution of power, money and resources
  3. Measure and understand the problem and assess the impact of action.

I’ll get right on that. I’ll also get right on solving the upstream political issues underlying SDOH that were pointed out in a previous Healthy Policies blog.

NOT (and therein lies the problem – where do you start with a wicked problem like SDOH?) Continue reading

If a picture is worth a thousand words….

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what is a video worth? Recent videos show that this format is useful for telling our stories and beginning discussions.

David Phipps of ResearchImpact-York has been featured in a number of video presentations recently. These videos each illustrate different issues or opportunities for KMb practice in Canada and demonstrate that short videos are a useful means of disseminating knowledge. And since these are all posted on You Tube, the videos become social media because you can “like” a video, “share” a video, or comment on a video this turning the one way dissemination into a two (or more) way dialogue.

ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RI-RIR) now has 23 uploads on its ResearchImpact You Tube channel plus an additional three that are posted as favourites (which means another group has produced and posted them but we can link our channel to them). Of those we have posted (including videos produced by RI-RIR universities York, MUN, UQAM and USask), we also have videos produced by Rogers TV (posted and reproduced with permission, thank you), ORION and the Canadian Science Policy Centre.

Video #1: David Phipps and Janice Chu (United Way of York Region) talk on Rogers TV show “Daytime” which aired on October 7, 2010. Janice spoke about UWYR Strength Investments which is a new investment strategy for UWYR allowing it to invest in community strengths while still maintaining support for traditional community agencies. David spoke about Change Inc., which we have previously written about in Mobilize This!. Change Inc. is a social innovation incubator led by York U and UWYR to seed and foster new social innovations and social innovators in York Region.

Video #2: David Phipps talks to ORION about the social networking platform, O3. York’s KMb Unit uses O3 to support KMb activities and to support an RI-RIR loosely led KMb community of practice. You can read previous blogs about our use of O3 and other social media by clicking on the “social media” tag in the tag cloud on Mobilize This!.

Video #3: David Phipps speaks at the KTKB Workshop associated with the Canadian Science Policy Conference. David speaks about how RI-RIR universities are providing professional knowledge brokers to support relationships between researchers and their research partners. He also discusses recent thinking about our limited ability to evaluate the impact of systems of KMb.

Videos are worth more than a thousand words (I’ve used 424 words just to talk about them here). Video might have killed the radio star (thank you The Buggles) but it is helping RI-RIR spread the word about institutional KMb services.

Click on the pic below for a blast from the past…

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

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.

Game-Change

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…

disrupted…

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.

Navaa…

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

AND

  • 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?

HANJI

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

HANJI

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

HANJI

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

One I remain humbled and honoured to serve.

Reflections on our National KMb Network

I have been very fortunate to work in York’s KMb Unit since February 2006. While we had worked hard over the first four years to build a credible service unit at York, and support the infrastructure for a national knowledge mobilization network, it is the past two months that demonstrate to me that ResearchImpact (Réseau Impact Recherche en français) has flourished!

On April 26 and 27, York KMb hosted the six ResearchImpact partner universities and their respective community United Way’s leadership (along with United Way Canada) for discussions on good KMb practices, collaborative opportunities and national networking. In true KMb fashion, the relationship building is what reflected and represented the foundation of an extensive national KMb network.

Fast forward two weeks, and on May 10 at CAURA (Canadian Association of University Research Administrators) four of the six universities in the network presented a plenary session that demonstrated collaborative projects between our university researchers and local community, demonstrating the value of university-based knowledge mobilization. I was impressed with how our messages were consistent despite gaps in capacity and variations in service models.

Most recently at Congress 2010 at Concordia University I had the chance to experience, once again, the strength of this network. Meetings with UQAM, connecting with brokers from five of the six partner universities, and having 8 days to promote ResearchImpact and reflect on our emerging network all point to an active and dynamic national KMb network.

While we remain short of my vision for ResearchImpact, where every university in Canada is represented with an active KMb service unit, the growth of the past two months is encouraging! I think the next four years will be just an enjoyable!

From the York KMb office,
Michael

United Way? United Wow!

On April 26 and 27 the United Way of York Region (UWYR) and York University hosted their counterparts from St. John’s, Montreal (UQAM), Guelph, Saskatoon and Victoria. This represented the first time the ResearchImpact universities met and was an ideal opportunity to invite our UW partners. Some of us (York, Victoria, Guelph) have established strong relationships between the university and the UW and the rest were meeting for the first time to explore possibilities. The goals of the meeting were two fold:

  1. Mobilize best practices and lessons learned about KMb from YorkU and UWYR to universities and communities across Canada
  2. Seed a national KMb network informed by evidence and best practice.

“I feel connected to a real network in spirit not just on paper”

The full agenda is available  here- UW-University KMb Meeting Agenda

Introductions: We prepared our recipe cards for success (for a successful meeting I need a pinch of _____________, a dash of _______________ and whole heaping handful of ________________) and shared them around the table. Humour was the ingredient most frequently cited… that we had, in abundance. Thanks to Jennifer Adams Warburton for setting the right tone for the meeting. In Newfoundland & Labrador they just “get ‘er done!”. And that we did!

KMb 101: The use of faculty and community partners in videos during York’s KMb overview grounded the KMb theory in the reality of community practice.

Presentations from Victoria and Guelph: These universities and their UW partners shared their experiences including UW Greater Victoria providing funding for UVic KMb interns and Guelph presenting on their new Research Shop.

Lunch: York’s KMb staff joined for lunch, presented on their KMb projects and we discussed staffing, resourcing and structures of the office.

Unconference Time: The group identified two topics of mutual interest and divided to discuss and report back. The Unconference topics were: 1) evaluation (we actually have very little understanding how to evaluate a system of KMb) and 2) local vs. national projects (a national network needs standards and tools to support local knowledge mobilization and we need a national network to enhance the access to scholarship anywhere across the country and to serve as a community of practice).

ResearchImpact: David Phipps (ResearchImpact York) presented a vision for ResearchImpact focusing on two activities: a community of practice and a larger pool of research and expertise to bring to the benefit of the ResearchImpact community partners. Louise Powell-McCarthy (UW Canada) provided reflections from a national perspective including her role as Director of Knowledge Exchange and her work to ensure all local UW share best practices through their Standards of Excellence.

Dinner: Lago. Good food. Great company. One theme emerged and remained with us – squirrel (you had to be there).

“We are so focused on the day to day but now we appreciate what the end looks like and what this can mean for policy change.”

The next day started with Saskatoon summing up what they heard from Day 1 and putting it in their perspective exploring learnings and opportunities for their community.

O3 demo: this was important as the entire meeting was managed through the ResearchImpact O3 site. A UW-University group was created with access to blogs, forums, gallery, documents and wikis, all of which were used to develop the community, provide materials in advance and set the tone for the meeting. The blog channel for this community is now open so check out the blog postings here.

Yaffle demo: We have previously blogged about yaffle, MUN’s online knowledge brokering service. Jennifer Adams Warburton presented on the launch and university (even province) wide implementation of this tool and described some of the success stories arising from yaffle. We briefly discussed its potential to link decision makers and researchers across the country – no promises but some great thinking.

For lunch that day we were joined by York’s VP Research & Innovation, Stan Shapson, and Assoc. VP Research (Social Sciences & Humanities), David Dewitt. We explored the impacts the meeting had on participants and made commitments to action in the following year. We then, one by one, said good bye, à bien tôt.

“very inspiring, happy to have been able to see how KMb is implemented in different communities”

The evaluations were overwhelmingly positive:

What did you like most about the meeting?
• Seeing how KMb is managed in the different universities and communities
• Meeting great people
• The sharing
• Establishing connections within a network
• Les experiences de chacune des universities et de Centraide et les outils développés.

What did you like least?
• Too many carbs, no decaf, need better snacks
• Le peu d’espace accordé à la traduction en français

Did you find the information about universities & ResearchImpact useful?
• We received a score 31 out of possible 36 points (36 = extremely useful)

Did you find the information about United Ways useful?
• We received a score 31 out of possible 36 points (36 = extremely useful)

After this event would you characterize the potential for United Way-University collaboration?
• We received a score 30 out of possible 36 points (36 = excellent potential)

What was the experience using the O3 social media site?
• We received a score 20 out of possible 36 points (36=excellent)

Are you interested in continuing this dialogue? 11/12 reported yes with one person saying yes so long as the openness continued.

While we have some way to go in supporting the use of O3 and serving fruit would have been nice, we received very positive feedback and have a mandate to move forward with plans for a national ResearchImpact network.

“I can see the power of the United Way national network and the academic network blended together.”

In summary: Watch the ResearchImpact YouTube channel, where we shall shortly be posting a video produced from the event. It was clear from all of the sharing and mutual learning, that collaboration between community and university, enabled by an institutional capacity for knowledge mobilization can maximize the impact of research on social service and community agencies and thus on the lives of Canadians. To cite York’s tag line, the meeting really did “redefine the possible”.

“Potential: need to think about what this [network] could be and connect”

Four common themes emerged from the meeting:

  1. In our diverse experiences community is stepping up to the KMb, plate but faculty, not so much. This culture change for faculty and for our academic institutions recapitulates the early years of technology transfer and industry liaison. Only the consistent application of professional services and an institutional capacity to support university-industry collaborations and time changed the collaboration culture in academic science & technology research. There’s a lesson here for knowledge mobilization.
  2. KMb is not a cookie cutter approach. While broad principles (involve decision makers in all stages; use a variety of KMb methods including push, pull, exchange and co-production; provide training and tools) should be adopted those must be implemented in a way that takes into account local opportunities and constraints. For example, KMb at York and UVic will achieve the same goals but be implemented differently.
  3. One word summed up the meeting: POTENTIAL
  4. And again… squirrel… because you had to be there.

Next Steps: While the next steps in the growth of ResearchImpact will depend on the outcomes of the careful reflection and deliberation of participants upon returning home, the one thing we are all committed to is continued dialogue in an open and transparent fashion.

“The United Way and Universities are two different cultures but by collaborating, change will happen and we can balance Canada’s innovation agenda.”

Thank you to CIHR which funded this meeting through a CIHR KT grant to York University and the United Way of York Region.