Earlier this semester, a small but mighty group of people gathered to celebrate partnership building between York University and the Black Creek community.
The group was present for the official announcement of five Community Engagement Catalyst Grants offered by the York University-TD Community Engagement Centre. The grants, each valued up to $5,000, offer important startup funding for innovative collaborations between the community and University.
“This is an exciting moment for the York University-TD Community Engagement Centre. Capacity building is central to the work of the centre and these projects will result in new capacity for both researchers and community partners because of the collaborative work they are undertaking,” said York University’s Vice-Provost Academic Alice Pitt to the grant recipients.
She outlined the purpose of the Catalyst Grants to those gathered for the informal event and expressed her hope that the program would be sustainable. “I was so impressed by the number and calibre of the submissions,” said Pitt. “It is incredibly exciting. Universities and communities are learning how to work together to be transformative. Congratulations to everyone involved.”
The projects span the scope of innovation and each partnership was awarded after a detailed review by an advisory council. The Catalyst Grants respond to community need and align with the priorities of the centre. The successful grants demonstrated the potential for a positive impact on community wellbeing and are centred within the Black Creek community.
PEACH – Promoting Education and Community Health (STEM Innovation Hub)
With its Catalyst Grant the Promoting Education and Community Health (PEACH) will launch an innovation hub designed to foster a positive learning experience in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, (STEM) to stimulate the intellectual curiosity and capacity of young people in the local community. PEACH, in partnership with Lassonde School of Engineering, will develop a curriculum, workshops and establish an engineering and science team dedicated to the education and enrichment of STEM education to benefit the community’s young people.
- Shalina Karmali, PEACH
- Gayathry Wright, manager of student engagement, Lassonde School of Engineering
Black Creek Community Farm Residents’ Council (Deepening Roots)
The Black Creek Community Farm is a public initiative designed to engage, educate and empower diverse communities through the growing and sharing of food. The Black Creek Community Farm Residents’ Council, in partnership with the Faculty of Environmental Studies, will work to document the innovative work of the Black Creek Community Farm Residents’ Council in order to build a unique model of Food Justice by and for racialized groups in Toronto. The project will also work to develop action research for the purpose of creating a living and historical document of the experiences of council members, political analyses, personal reflections, and their visions for the future.
- Ama Amponsah, Black Creek Community Farm
- Andrea Bouchaud, Black Creek Community Farm Residents Council
- Professor Martha Stiegman, Faculty of Environmental Studies
BRiCK by Brick (Jane-Finch Early Years Centre, Black Creek Community Health Centre and the Faculty of Health)
Building Resilience in Caregivers and Kids (BRiCK) is an initiative designed to improve infant and mother mental health by piloting a creative universal screening and support program that has been made for and with key Black Creek community partners. This program brings together three institutions including Black Creek Community Health Centre (BCCHC), York University, and the Jane-Finch Community Family Centre’s Ontario Early Years Centre (JFCFC-OEYC). BRiCK by Brick will support the development of this universal screening program and for the continued training of BCCHC health professionals, JFCFC-OEYC parent coaches and York Research Assistants.
- Ruby Moayer, Jane-Finch Early Years Centre,
- Malani Dave, Black Creek Community Health Centre,
- Professor Rebecca Pillai-Riddell, Faculty of Health
The Jane Finch Environmental Justice Project (Environmental Justice Institute)
The Jane Finch Environmental Justice Project seeks to address the numerous issues of environmental hazards embedded in the Jane Finch community through collaborative urban planning at the community level. The main feature for the Jane Finch Environmental Justice Project is a one week workshop whereby community members collaboratively develop a planning report that profiles environmental issues and forwards recommendations to the City of Toronto. The grant will assist with the production of artistic preparatory materials and video production materials in an effort to document the project messages, processes, and outcomes. This partnership is between the Jane Finch Action Against Poverty and the Faculty of Environmental Studies.
- Professor Jennifer Foster, Faculty of Environmental Studies
- Suzanne Narain, Jane Finch Action Against Poverty
The Toronto Strong Neighbourhood Strategy Planning Group (Jane Finch Community and Family Centre and the CITY Institute at York University)
The Toronto Strong Neighbourhood Strategy (TSNS) Planning Group consists of community agencies, organizations and residents who have begun to document the historic under-investment in the community infrastructure of Jane and Finch. Through resident-focused groups, deeper policy and literature reviews, the grant will provide background on how other communities have overcome barriers of real or perceived scarcity of funding, with a focus on future planning initiatives. The grant to the TSNS planning group, in partnership with the City Institute, will support the enhancement of current data to equip the community with a deeper knowledge that will enable citizens to advocate for equitable distribution of resources and support.
- Wanda McNevin, Jane Finch Community and Family Centre
- Professor Linda Peake, CITY Institute
For more information on the activities of the York University-TD Community Engagement Centre and the Catalyst Grants, contact the centre’s manager Lorna Schwartzentruber at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 416-736-2100, ext. 20349.