Research Forum Provides New Perspective on Ways to End Youth Homelessness

The following was originally posted in YFile, York University’s Daily News, on November 26, 2012 and is reposted here with permission.

Homeless YouthA systems approach is needed to respond to youth homelessness in York Region and Canada. This was the message at yesterday’s research forum: Re-Imagining Our Response to Youth Homelessness: A Canadian and Global Perspective, organized by United Way York Region (UWYR) and York University at the Markham Convergence Centre.

“A multi-sectoral approach is necessary. Non-profit organizations, universities, governments and other key stakeholders have to work together to end youth homelessness and move forward with one clear vision,” said keynote speaker Stephen Gaetz, York University professor and director of the Canadian Homelessness Research Network. “We need to reconsider our response to youth homelessness and shift our focus away from an emphasis on emergency supports towards prevention and rapid rehousing.”

Representatives from a variety of sectors gathered at the Markham Convergence Centre to talk about an effective response to youth homelessness in York Region and Canada.

The research forum was organized by UWYR in partnership with York University’s Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Unit through a one-year Public Outreach Grant from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Stephen Gaetz

Stephen Gaetz

“We see this event as a great opportunity to invite people to think differently about youth homelessness and learn from other jurisdictions,” said Jane Wedlock, knowledge mobilization officer, UWYR. “And we can consider whether we might explore some of these different approaches.”

Examples were drawn from different Canadian provinces and other countries that have undertaken some innovative approaches to addressing youth homelessness.

“It was impressive to see York research at a forum designed to facilitate relationship building, a two-way exchange between academic researchers and practitioners in social service provision, all with one common vision to support positive changes in addressing issues of youth homelessness in York Region,” said Michael Johnny, manager of knowledge mobilization at York University.

“Research Forums, such as the one held yesterday, are an important process of effective knowledge mobilization by creating a culture of collaboration and realizing the potential for research to have a direct and positive impact for York Region,” said Johnny.

For more information, visit the UWYR website.

Knowledge Mobilisers: Putting Research into Practice (and Policy)

The following was originally posted on The Guardian’s Higher Education Network blog on October 9, 2012 and is reposted here with permission.

Maximising the impact of research on society depends on universities brokering the right partnerships with public policy, says David Phipps – and Canada is leading the way.

Good research should have a ripple effect on society and knowledge mobilisation can push it out.

Earlier this year on the Higher Education Network, I introduced knowledge mobilisation as a university-based process that connects academic social sciences and humanities research to non-academic decision makers to inform decisions about public policy and professional practice, enhance social innovation and develop sustainable solutions to social, environmental, economic and cultural challenges.

I then reflected on its past – the roots of knowledge mobilisation as we now understand it. In this third installment, I return to the present to see how York University in Toronto is supporting collaborations between researchers and partner to maximise the impact of research on society.

We started York University’s knowledge mobilisation practice by trying to push out existing research results to find “receptors” and soon realised that we needed more interactive methods of closing the gap that exists between research within a higher education context and the policy and practice which could use it. Researchers and their partners need to find a middle ground in which to collaborate so that research not only meets the academic standards of scholarship but is also relevant to non-academic partners.

Today York University’s knowledge mobilisation unit uses a suite of services available to faculty and students from all disciplines across the university. Our knowledge mobilisation staff help faculty and partners identify and develop research collaborations through meetings support, student interns and the use of social media as a connecting channel. We have recently published a report on our full range of services.

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York University and United Way York Region Receive Funding for Knowledge Mobilization / L’Université York et United Way de la Région de York reçoivent du financement pour la mobilisation des connaissances

By David Phipps, RIR-York

United Way York Region and York University can build on their 5 year knowledge mobilization collaboration thanks to new funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. This funding will allow them to support collaborations on income and housing vulnerability.

United Way de la Région de York et l’Université York peuvent poursuivre le travail collaboratif en matière de mobilisation des connaissances qu’ils ont entrepris il y a 5 ans, et ce, grâce au financement reçu par le Conseil de recherche en sciences humaines du Canada. Ces fonds leur permettront de travailler en collaboration sur le thème du revenu et de la vulnérabilité relative au logement.

In June the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council announced a grant to York University and United Way York Region of $141,798 to invest in knowledge mobilization focused on income and housing vulnerability.  The grant is lead jointly by Daniele Zanotti (CEO, United Way York Region), David Phipps (Director, Research Services & Knowledge Exchange) and Steven Gaetz (Associate Professor, Faculty of Education), as well as Michaela Hynie (Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and the Program Evaluation Unit in the York Institute for Health Research). There is an urgent need for research and evidence to inform effective community responses, programs and services for housing and income vulnerability. Building on their five year knowledge mobilization partnership, York University and United Way York Region will implement a community-campus knowledge mobilization strategy based on best practices so that York housing and income vulnerability research and expertise is accessible to community partners. This grant builds on the CIHR funded Knowledge Translation supplement awarded to the partners in 2011 that funds knowledge mobilization activities focused on social determinants of health. Steven Gaetz, who also sits on the York Region Human Services Planning Board, says, “Knowledge mobilization has become very important in Canada. My area of research is homelessness and one of our key beliefs is that we have to figure out ways to mobilize homelessness research so that it can have a bigger impact on policy and practice. York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit has been a big support in this effort.”

While both the SSHRC and CIHR grants support a suite of services as recently described by York’s Knowledge mobilization Unit (see the knowledge mobilization blog post on Mobilize This!), at the core of these activities is funding for a community-based knowledge broker. While many university-based research programs and research units have staff who act as knowledge brokers only the six universities in the York-led ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche knowledge mobilization network have invested in knowledge brokers with a pan-university mandate. And of those six York is the only university to collaborate with their local partner to place a knowledge broker in the community. Jane Wedlock, Knowledge Mobilization Officer at United Way York Region, seeks to build capacity for community members to become partners in collaborative research projects and to work with Michael Johnny, Manager, Knowledge Mobilization at York University, to identify and support collaborations between university and community experts in housing and income vulnerability.

These collaborations will include graduate student interns (Summer 2013) and will be informed by more than 25 ResearchSnapshot clear language research summaries being developed from York University research articles over the summer of 2012.

“York University has transformed our work in the community” says Daniele Zanotti. “It has opened up the richness of community.

SSHRC handed out  95 grants in the October 2011 Public Outreach Grant competition. The York University/United Way York Region grant received the third highest funding of all grants and the highest amount of funding of those grants that had a community partner as a full co-applicant.United Way York Region is stronger because of that relationship and the university is stronger, with deeper roots in the community and greater opportunities to apply research to real lived experience.”

“York continues to build on and strengthen its commitment to community engagement, as identified in the Provostial White Paper,” said Robert Haché, York’s vice-president research & innovation.  “York’s researchers continue to share and co-create knowledge with the broader community, as exemplified by the success of our researchers in the receipt of funding for engaged scholarship through SSHRC’s Public Outreach grants program and the work of our researchers and Knowledge Mobilization Unit in further developing partnerships with community organizations, such as the United Way York Region.”

York University and United Way York Region have recently released a video speaking about the mutual value gained when they jointly invest in knowledge mobilization.

A Summer of Clear Language Summaries Ahead! / À venir, un été rempli de résumés de recherche en langage clair

This summer, our writing team at York University has started working on brand new clear language summaries. Look for new, upcoming ResearchSnapshots to be developed around the topic of Poverty Eradication.

Cet été, l’équipe de rédaction de l’Université York a déjà commencé à travailler sur de tout nouveaux résumés de recherche en langage clair. Ne manquez pas les prochains ResearchSnapshot qui porteront sur le thème de l’éradication de la pauvreté.

This summer, the writing team at the KMb Unit at York are back to begin drafting a new set of ResearchSnapshots for our readers!  The theme for us this year is Poverty Eradication.

The initiative stems from York University’s partnership with the United Way of York Region (UWYR) in making KMb a crucial process for community engagement.  Between 2001 and 2006, growing trends have been identified in York Region.  There has been a 55 percent increase of low income earners, while the gap between high and low income earners continues to widen. This includes a 62 percent increase in the number of children living in low income households.

According to the Canadian Make Poverty History Campaign, more than 3.5 million Canadian live in poverty and the numbers are growing for youth, workers, young families, immigrants and people of colour. The world has enough resources, money and technology to end poverty, yet about 1.7 billion people worldwide continue to live in extreme poverty.

A part of the UWYR’s Community Investment Priorities seeks to support peoples’ transition from a life of poverty to possibility. But what exactly is Poverty Eradication?

Poverty is the lack of basic needs, with the experience of low income, education and health.  It also involves the lack of opportunity or capacity to improve one’s life. By analyzing the causes that create these living conditions, poverty eradication seeks to create change and eliminate these underlying causes.

As you will find over the summer, researchers at York and our partner RIR universities have much to offer in the areas of poverty, education, housing and economic vulnerability.  We have two very enthusiastic and dedicated mobilizers in the process of seeking research expertise and developing ResearchSnapshots: Sabah Haque and Paula Elias.

Sabah Haque: Currently, I am a business student at Schulich, and I have dedicated my summer to a cause I really care about. I am pleased to be working with Knowledge Mobilization on the pressing issue of Poverty Eradication. My goal is to provide a wide range of perspectives on how poverty can be alleviated, by making current research accessible to anyone in the community. Research in the areas of social work, business, health and environmental studies (to mention a few) – all play a role in tackling the issues surrounding poverty. This summer, stay tuned to learn about the next steps you can take to put an end to poverty!


Paula Elias: As a writer for York’s KMb Unit since 2010, I have had the pleasure of working with many researchers and becoming a part of our efforts to mobilize knowledge.   As a non-profit worker and educator, mobilizing knowledge has enhanced what I do.   Addressing clear language and supporting accessible knowledge to my students and community partners are so vital, and I look forward to gaining another summer of experience here at York.

David Phipps’ Opening Address to the Community Sector in the United Kingdom / Mot d’ouverture de David Phipps à l’attention du milieu communautaire du Royaume-Uni

David Phipps, RIR- York

David Phipps (RIR-York) was in the UK recently and included an address to open the annual general meeting of 3VA. 3VA is a Council for Voluntary Service, providing support for voluntary and community organizations across Eastboume, Lewes District and Wealden.  David was introduced as “the most influential knowledge broker in Canada and a recognized world leader in the field of universities empowering local communities and the voluntary sector”.

David Phipps (RIR-York) était récemment au Royaume-Uni et prononçait le mot d’ouverture de la rencontre annuelle de 3VA. 3VA est un conseil pour le bénévolat qui fournit un appui aux organisations communautaires et bénévoles à travers Eastoubme, Lewes District et Wealden. David a été présenté comme “le courtier de connaissances le plus influent du Canada ainsi qu’un leader mondialement reconnu dans la mouvance des universités qui favorise l’habilitation des communautés locales et le secteur bénévole”.

The address started with the video of the Green Economy Centre of Nottawasaga Futures as an example of knowledge mobilization enabling a social innovation. York’s partnership with the United Way of York Region was used as another example of a community agency leading in community development. Both are important partners for York University.

“On behalf of my community partners in Canada, it is a pleasure to welcome you to your AGM.

I believe the community sector is rich in talent and expertise. Community expertise and local knowledge is critically important to effective implementation of any new policy, program or service.  Similarly tacit knowledge, traditional knowledge and other forms of knowing are found in the community.  All knowledge is important and different knowledges must collaborate to enable social innovation.

I have read that the community sector is not an innovative sector.  This is rubbish as the community sector has always made a practice of doing more with less which forces innovative and creative solutions to challenges. The limitation we all face is the issue of scale. How can a local innovation be shared with other communities and scaled for broader impact? These limited resources means we have to collaborate to do more with less and that is what I wish to talk about today. Collaboration between the community and academic sectors.

As you open your AGM – it is my pleasure to talk to you about our university and community efforts in Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) to support social innovation.  KMb is an institutional infrastructure. KMb at York, like the Community University Partnership Program at the University of Brighton is unique. Both provide services that connect community talent to university talent including researchers and students. Although we implement differently the goals are similar.

Over the last 5.5 years York’s KMb Unit has helped to forge over 225 relationships. We have helped community agencies raise over $1M for programs and services and have attracted over $1M to the university in sponsored research opportunities. Supported by York’s KMb Unit, university researchers and their community partners have received over $17M in engaged scholarship grant funding. We have placed 35 KMb graduate student interns with community and public sector partners and eight of them have been hired by their placement partners.  We also have an active social media strategy.

University researchers have always partnered with a variety of organizations, that isn’t new.  What is new is that some institutions like York and Brighton have developed an institutional capacity to support this activity for the mutual benefit of the university and the community.  It is my belief that the community sector is the heart of our communities. Community agencies are committed and innovative and agile. You have ability to respond to opportunities and collaborate with universities without a bureaucratic web of red tape or a maze of intellectual property agreements.

I am traveling in UK to speak about social innovation and knowledge mobilization visiting Edinburgh, Eastbourne, Brighton and London.

I would also like to recognize that today (December 1) is World AIDS Day, a day to remember those we have lost, their friends, families and allies and the community agencies who provide a wide range of services to people affected by HIV/AIDS. Today is also a day to renew our commitments to research and service for HIV/AIDS. Some of our work has been with HIV/AIDS community service organizations. We have placed a graduate student intern at an AIDS service organization in York Region and we have written and posted clear language summaries that summarize published HIV/AIDS research.

I invite you now to pause, just for a moment and remember those who have lived and continue to live with HIV/AIDS.

Let us reflect on the value that we might be able to generate for HIV/AIDS when we work together.  When academic research and community expertise collaborate to bring new ideas to fruition.

In closing, I invite you watch a video in which Daniele Zanotti, CEO of the United Way of York Region speaks about the value of knowledge mobilization to the university and the community.”

KMb press release / MdC communiqué de presse

York University and United Way of York Region examine link between living conditions and health. Two funding announcements will move university research into communities.

L’Université York et United Way de la région de York examinent les liens entre les conditions de vie et la santé.  L’annonce du financement de deux projets va permettre à la recherche universitaire de rejoindre les communautés

First posted by York University.

TORONTO, June 15, 2011 −If where you’re born, live and work − and the healthcare system you access − determines a lot about how healthy you’ll be, what can local governments and community agencies do to improve your well-being?

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has awarded York University and the United Way of York Region $93,000 to develop research initiatives that will examine how living conditions − the social determinants of health − affect health.

The funding, being announced today at York University’s fifth annual Knowledge Mobilization Expo at the Markham Convergence Centre, will be used for projects that will draw on the university’s strong interdisciplinary health research to respond to community needs and systemic social challenges identified by United Way of York Region.

“Social determinants of health are experienced where Canadians live − right in their communities,” said Ian Graham, vice-president of Knowledge Translation at CIHR. “University researchers and their partners in community health agencies, including those supported by the United Way, are critical to developing novel health services and health policies that have a direct outcome on the health of Canadians.”

“Collaborating and making research more accessible to our community partners and co-developing knowledge is a cornerstone of York University’s research enterprise,” said Stan Shapson, vice-president Research & Innovation. “For the last five years, we have collaborated with the United Way of York Region to connect researchers and graduate students with community and government organizations to find novel approaches that impact health and human services. York’s faculty members and our partners in community health agencies continue to work together to create innovative solutions that benefit the quality of life in our community.”

United Way of York Region is also announcing funding during the Knowledge Mobilization Expo. It is committing $150,000 through Change Inc., a social innovation incubator that it developed with York University to invest in new solutions to persistent social and health challenges faced by York Region residents. Based at the university’s research offices in York Region, Change Inc. was launched in October 2010. The United Way funding, through its Strength Investments will allow Change Inc. to provide socially-focused entrepreneurs, organizations and collaboratives with seed funding, physical space, shared administrative services and access to mentors, York researchers and graduate students. Continue reading