York collaborates on international post-pandemic recovery research

A young woman dons a mask to protect against the novel coronavirus FEATURED image for York library story
A young woman dons a mask to protect against the novel coronavirus FEATURED image for York library story

York University Associate Professor Claudia Chaufan will collaborate with a group of interdisciplinary researchers to investigate post-pandemic recovery and best practices for future global emergencies with a grant from the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF).

Claudia Chaufan
Claudia Chaufan

The $500,000 award was announced as part of the Government of Canada’s NFRF’s 2022 Special Calls stream, which aims to support emerging research as needed.

Chaufan, from the Faculty of Health, is a co-principal investigator on an interdisciplinary team of six researchers from across Canada, along with: Claus Rinner, Toronto Metropolitan University (principal investigator); and co-investigators Candice Chow, McMasters University; J. Christian Rangel, University of Ottawa; Elaine Wiersma, Lakehead University; and Wang, Yiwen, University of Toronto. The project is led by Toronto Metropolitan University.

The project’s team consists of researchers from across the globe, including co-applicant Andrea Valente of York’s Faculty of Education, as well as Canadian experts in governance, healthcare, law, media and communications, and international collaborators from Jamaica, Western Europe, Israel, Kenya and Uganda who specialize in behavioural sciences, economics, epidemiology and philosophy.

The research aims to examine the social and economic inequities amplified by COVID-19 on an international scale. Together, the researchers will look at how social cohesion and inclusivity can be strengthened through community engagement in decision-making with respect to future emergencies. They will also explore how governments can improve communication and build trust with communities.

According to the research team, this research contributes to achieving four United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs): UN SDG 3 Good Health and Wellbeing, by assessing to what extent a holistic view of public health informed the pandemic response; UN SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities, by assessing the impact of pandemic responses on social and health equity; UN SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities, by identifying vulnerable communities, even in high-income countries; and UN SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, by examining to what extent the policy development process was transparent and able to ensure inclusivity and accountability.

The team’s research methods will include case studies, critical document analysis, discourse analysis and visualization, as well as oral histories and creative work to investigate operational consideration of the social determinants of health and value-based governance.

The project’s findings will help inform future policy on disaster management.

For more, visit https://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/funding-financement/nfrf-fnfr/special/2022/award_recipients-titulaires_subvention-eng.aspx.

York community gathers to celebrate Connected Minds

Partners from Queens University and York University at the May 15 event to celebrate the Connected Minds project

York community members gathered on May 15 to celebrate Connected Minds, the largest York-led research program in the University’s history.

Connected Minds: Neural and Machine Systems for a Healthy, Just Society is a first-of-its-kind interdisciplinary research program, funded in part by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), that will work to ensure technological progress and the future of AI is fair and equitable. For more about the program and the researchers, see this story: York University leads groundbreaking research to ensure technology revolution leaves no one behind.

Attendees had the opportunity to enter an Indigenous metaverse in an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience, test their skills behind the wheel in a driving simulator, take in a VR art installation, jumble their senses in a tumbling room that can spin 360 degrees, interact with some of the latest robots used in University research, and more.

Click here to watch the full event recap on YouTube. To see photos from the event, view the gallery below.


Celebrate the launch of largest York-led research program on May 15

Driving Simulator

Celebrate Connected Minds, the largest York-led research program in the University’s history, and explore the world of artificial intelligence and disruptive technologies, at an official launch event and interactive showcase on Monday, May 15.

York community members are invited to attend and experience York research first-hand. Attendees will have the opportunity to enter an Indigenous metaverse in an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience, test their skills behind the wheel in a driving simulator, take in a VR art installation, jumble their senses in a tumbling room that can spin 360 degrees, interact with some of the latest robots used in University research, and more.

Connected Minds: Neural and Machine Systems for a Healthy, Just Society is a first-of-its-kind interdisciplinary research program, funded in part by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), that will work to ensure technological progress and the future of AI is fair and equitable. For more about the program and the researchers, see this story: York University leads groundbreaking research to ensure technology revolution leaves no one behind.

Connected Minds was officially announced as a recipient of the CFREF grant on April 28. It is the largest single federal grant ever awarded to York University. Join University officials, the research team and the program’s many partners, to mark this significant milestone for York research and the beginning of Connected Minds.   

RSVP today to attend in person, or virtually through a live stream, at https://www.yorku.ca/go/connectedmindsreception.

Date/time: Monday, May 15 at 1 p.m.
Location: Sherman Health Science Research Centre, 281 Ian MacDonald Blvd., Keele Campus

York receives $300K from provincial agency to advance research commercialization

By Corey Allen, senior manager, research communications

Commercialization efforts for York University research have received a $300,000 boost in funding from Intellectual Property Ontario (IPON). 

The new funding will support the Office of the Vice-President Research and Innovation and the IP Innovation Clinic at York University to enhance its intellectual property and commercialization services to York researchers and their partners, particularly for increasing research outputs related to artificial intelligence, automotive and medical technology.

Jennifer MacLean
Jennifer MacLean

“With IPON’s financial backing, we will be able to streamline and develop a full-service IP and commercialization pathway for our faculty, students and our partners, and strengthen York’s pursuit of licensing and research partnership opportunities,” said Jennifer MacLean, assistant vice-president of innovation and research partnerships. “Our goal is to triple the number of disclosures and double the number of patents filed by York students and faculty per year, while supporting licensing and partnerships that move York’s great ideas forward.”  

The fund will help create two new staff positions – an assistant director for the IP Innovation Clinic and a business development and commercialization manager for OVPRI – and increase business and commercialization impact for IP holders in Ontario.   

“This investment is just one example of how IPON is supporting our province’s postsecondary institutions and innovators, by providing them with the funding, tools, knowledge and connections they need to harness the value of their IP,” said Jill Dunlop, minister of colleges and universities. “Initiatives like this are helping our province’s innovators benefit from IPON’s expertise and ensuring the economic and commercial benefits of home-grown innovation remain right here in Ontario.” 

Commercialization of research outputs can mean bringing a new product or service to the market. An invention by a researcher can solve a problem faced by consumers or businesses or help make life easier or more efficient. Commercialization can also extend the positive reach and impact University research has on society by driving revenue growth through sustained market opportunities. 

Pina D'Agostino with an AI robot
Pina D’Agostino with an AI robot

“The IPON funds will be invaluable to help scale the many successes of the IP Innovation Clinic working with Ontario’s startups,” said Pina D’Agostino, associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and the founder of the IP Innovation Clinic. “With these resources we can serve many more clients who do not have money to pay for expensive legal fees. We are also able to train many more law students to be IP and business savvy to protect key assets in the disruptive tech economy.” 

York is among 10 universities and colleges in Ontario to receive funding as part of the provincial agency’s pilot project to strengthen Ontario’s knowledge economy.   

For the official announcement from IPON, click here: Intellectual Property Ontario investing $2 million to support innovation and commercialization at postsecondary schools — Intellectual Property Ontario (ip-ontario.ca).  

New Frontiers in Research Fund awards $2.4M to York University researchers

innovation research digital AI network
innovation research digital AI network

By Corey Allen, senior manager, research communications

Seven projects led by York University researchers were awarded a combined $2.4 million from the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) in two of its funding streams: Exploration and Special Calls, announced at the end of April.  

The NFRF: Exploration stream is a federal program that supports high-risk, high-reward interdisciplinary research. The Special Call stream in this latest funding round supports research for post-pandemic recovery.  

The total combined funding for the York-led research projects is $2,433,295.  

To learn more about the NFRF and the funded projects, read the announcement here: Government of Canada invests in high-risk, high-reward interdisciplinary research to support world-leading innovation – Canada.ca

York-led projects in the Exploration stream ($962,079) 

Rachel Gorman, Faculty of Health
Training an AI to detect medical bias and unmet health needs through critical race and disability theory and community-generated data

Elizabeth Clare, Faculty of Science
The ethical challenge to non-invasive environmental e(DNA) technology  

Stephanie Ben-Ishai, Osgoode Hall Law School
The Debt Relief Project: Online and Low-Cost Access to Bankruptcy 

Zheng Hong Zhu, Lassonde School of Engineering
3D and 4D Laser Metal Additive Manufacturing in Zerogravity and Vacuum for Space Exploration

York-led projects in Special Calls stream ($1471,216)  

Mary Wiktorowicz, Faculty of Health
Governance of One Health challenges: Fostering collaboration 

Jonathan Weiss, Faculty of Health
Mobilizing environments to improve psychological and physiological experiences of thriving in Autistic people 

Jeannie Samuel, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Building equitable and resilient community-based emergency response strategies in rural Guatemala 

York-led $318M project to create transformational change in inclusive tech research 

York University's Amir Asif, Pina D'Agostino and Doug Crawford with representatives from Queen's University

York University is leading a $318.4-million, interdisciplinary, first-of-its kind research project that aims to advance the understanding of relationships between human minds and machines, and how society – or as the researchers have dubbed it, the “techno-social collective” – can evolve with these emerging technologies in a socially responsible way.

An initiative focused on inclusive technology research that partners with Queens University, “Connected Minds: Neural and Machine Systems for a Healthy, Just Society” is supported by $105.7 million in funding from the federal government’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) with $82.8 million dedicated to York and $22.8 million to Queens.

Susan Boehnke, Queen’s University with York University’s Pina D’Agostino, Doug Crawford and Gunnar Blohm, Queen’s University

Connected Minds will fund 35 strategic faculty hires, partner-focused seed, team, and prototyping grants, knowledge mobilization and commercialization activities, and an ambitious multi-institutional micro-credential training program with 385 trainees and cross-sector stakeholders. All activities will require interdisciplinary participation, and projects that benefit Indigenous and other equity-deserving groups will be prioritized. 

“The current technological revolution will have transformative positive impacts, and likely unintended negative impacts, on humanity for generations to come,” says Doug Crawford, York University Distinguished Research Professor in Neuroscience and inaugural scientific director of Connected Minds. “To predict these impacts and steer toward positive outcomes, one requires transdisciplinary expertise, multi-sector community engagement and research and training at levels that can only occur in a large-scale program. We thank CFREF for providing Connected Minds with the resources to lead Canada and the world in this timely and critical enterprise.” 

The directorate will be shared with York University Professor Pina D’Agostino, intellectual property and technology law expert, as vice director, and Professor Sean Hillier, Indigenous health scholar, as associate director. Engineer and neuroscientist Professor Gunnar Blohm joins as the vice director from Queen’s University. 

Experts across various fields – from eight of York’s Faculties and three of Queens’ – will focus on how emerging technology is transforming society and work to find a balance between the identified risks and benefits for humanity. The program will engage more than 50 community partners – from hospitals, policymakers, artists, industry partners and Indigenous communities – with emphasis on inclusive, interdisciplinary research. 

Connected Minds will combine York’s leadership in science and technology research, and longstanding institutional priorities in social sciences, arts and humanities, with Queens’ strengths in neuroscience, health and AI, as well as with partners across multiple sectors.

Amir Asif
Amir Asif

“York is an international leader in interdisciplinary research involving artificial intelligence and other disruptive technologies, social justice, and human science like biology, neuroscience, philosophy, and psychology,” says Amir Asif, York University vice-president, research and innovation. “The government’s substantial investment will unite York’s incredible strengths with Queen’s health specialties to chart new territory in socially responsible, community-engaged research for a rapidly changing digital world. 

“Connected Minds is the result of the incredible work and collaborative efforts of our faculty and staff, and will enable Canada to lead the creation of more inclusive technologies for the world.” 

Some of the program’s proposed projects include explorations into a more inclusive metaverse, virtual reality and community organizing, technologies for healthy aging, Indigenous data sovereignty, and how the human brain functions when people interact with AI versus each other. 

A new, dedicated Indigenous research space on York’s Keele Campus supports the program’s, and the University’s, focus on decolonizing, equity, diversity and inclusion (DEDI). 

“Connected Minds is informed by Indigenous perspectives and priorities to achieve outcomes that are culturally relevant and responsive to Indigenous ways of being and doing that impact how we think about and engage in life, health and education,” says Hillier, who is also director of York University’s Centre for Indigenous Knowledges & Languages. “Our work will seek to address the unexpected consequences of technological innovation, like the growing digital divide for Indigenous communities to access remote health care, and issues of data sovereignty, ownership and digital colonialism.” 

The CFREF funding positions York as a national leader in creating and adopting scientific and technological innovation and an agent of change in the promotion of a healthy and just techno-social collective. 

“We believe our inclusive, interdisciplinary approach that aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals makes York University the perfect place for anticipating the way humans and machines will, and should, connect in an equitable society,” says D’Agostino.

Watch a video on Connected Minds below.

York University receives largest-ever research funding grant

Vari hall

La version française suit la version anglaise.

Dear colleagues,

Today marks a new level of achievement for York University research and our outstanding faculty.

We are thrilled to share with you all that York University – in partnership with Queen’s University – has been awarded a monumental grant of nearly $105.7 million from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). The funding from the Government of Canada is the largest single federal grant ever awarded to York and is in support of Connected Minds: Neural and Machine Systems for a Healthy, Just Society.

As a research-intensive University committed to positive change, the Connected Minds program and its successful CFREF application elevates York’s research enterprise and allows our researchers to push the boundaries of purposeful research even further.

This innovative, new research program will be led by the inaugural directorate of:

  • Doug Crawford, Distinguished Research Professor, Faculty of Health, York University, Connected Minds Inaugural scientific director
  • Pina D’Agostino, associate professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Connected Minds vice-director
  • Gunnar Blohm, professor, School of Medicine, Queen’s University, Connected Minds vice-director
  • Sean Hillier, assistant professor, Faculty of Health, York University, Connected Minds associate director

In addition to the directorate, the core Connected Minds team includes York’s Shayna Rosenbaum, James Elder, Danielle Elliott, Robert Alison and Laura Levin, as well as Catherine Donnelly from Queen’s.

This historic CFREF grant awards York University with $82.8 million and $22.8 million to Queen’s University. When combined with the contributions (including in-kind) from multi-sector partners, municipal governments and collaborating institutions, the total value of the Connected Minds project is $318.4 million, making Connected Minds the biggest York-led research program in the University’s history.

Connected Minds is a pan-University effort and brings together experts in multiple fields, including the arts, humanities, engineering, law and life sciences, located across eight York Faculties and three Queen’s Faculties. Our researchers will examine the ways in which technology is transforming society – dubbed the “techno-social collective” – and will work to balance both the potential risks and benefits for humanity.

Connected Minds will fund 35 strategic faculty hires, three new Ontario Research Chairs, as well as partner-focused seed, team, and prototyping grants, knowledge mobilization and commercialization activities, and an ambitious multi-institutional micro-credential training program with 385 trainees and cross-sector stakeholders. All activities will require an interdisciplinary participation, and projects that benefit Indigenous and other equity-deserving groups will be prioritized.

Learn more about Connected Minds here: https://yorku.ca/research/connected-minds.

Click here for York’s official announcement: https://www.yorku.ca/news/2023/04/28/york-university-leads-318-4m-first-of-kind-inclusive-next-gen-technology-research-initiative/.

On behalf of the entire University, we want to express the community’s pride and excitement for today’s news and what this will mean for the future of York research.

Congratulations to the Connected Minds leadership team and for everyone involved in bringing about this significant milestone.

It’s a new era for research and innovation at York University.


Rhonda Lenton
President and Vice-Chancellor

Amir Asif
Vice-President Research and Innovation

L’Université York reçoit la plus importante subvention jamais accordée à la recherche

Chers collègues, chères collègues,

Aujourd’hui, un nouveau palier a été franchi par la recherche à l’Université York et notre remarquable corps professoral.

Nous sommes ravis de vous annoncer que l’Université York, en partenariat avec l’Université Queen’s, a reçu une subvention colossale d’environ 105,7 millions de dollars du Fonds d’excellence en recherche Apogée Canada (FERAC). Le financement du gouvernement du Canada est la plus importante subvention fédérale jamais accordée à York; elle appuie le projet appelé Esprits branchés /Connected Minds : Systèmes neuronaux et mécaniques pour une société saine et juste.

En tant qu’université à forte intensité de recherche engagée en faveur de changements positifs, le programme Esprits branchés/Connected Minds et sa candidature fructueuse auprès du FERAC rehaussent l’effort de recherche à York et permettent à nos chercheurs de repousser encore plus loin les limites de la recherche ciblée.

Ce nouveau programme de recherche innovant sera dirigé par l’équipe de direction inaugurale du programme de recherche :

  • Doug Crawford, professeur distingué de la Faculté de la santé, Université York, directeur scientifique inaugural d’Esprits branchés/Connected Minds
  • Pina D’Agostino, professeure agrégée de l’École de droit Osgoode Hall, Université York, vice-directrice associée d’Esprits branchés/Connected Minds
  • Gunnar Blohm, professeur de l’École de médecine de l’Université Queen’s, vice-directeur associé d’Esprits branchés/Connected Minds
  • Sean Hillier, professeur adjoint de la Faculté de la santé, Université York, directeur associé d’Esprits branchés/Connected Minds

En plus de la direction, l’équipe principale d’Esprits branchés/Connected Minds comprend Shayna Rosenbaum, James Elder, Danielle Elliott, Robert Alison et Laura Levin de York, ainsi que Catherine Donnelly de Queen’s.

Cette subvention historique du FERAC attribue 82,8 millions de dollars à l’Université York et 22,8 millions de dollars à l’Université Queen’s. Si l’on ajoute les contributions (y compris en nature) des partenaires multisectoriels, des administrations municipales et des institutions collaboratrices, la valeur totale du projet Esprits branchés/Connected Minds s’élève à 318,4 millions de dollars, ce qui en fait le plus grand programme de recherche dirigé par York dans l’histoire de l’Université.

Esprits branchés/Connected Minds est une initiative panuniversitaire qui rassemble des experts dans de nombreux domaines, notamment les arts, les sciences humaines, l’ingénierie, le droit et les sciences de la vie, répartis dans huit facultés de York et trois facultés de Queen. Nos chercheurs examineront la manière dont la technologie transforme la société — appelée « le collectif technosocial » — et s’efforceront d’équilibrer les risques et les avantages potentiels pour l’humanité.

Esprits branchés/Connected Minds financera le recrutement stratégique de 35 professeurs; de trois nouvelles chaires de recherche de l’Ontario; des subventions de démarrage, d’équipe et de prototypage axées sur les partenaires; des activités de mobilisation des connaissances et de commercialisation; ainsi qu’un ambitieux programme multi-institutionnel de formation aux microcrédits avec 385 postes de stagiaires et des intervenants intersectoriels. Toutes les activités nécessiteront une participation interdisciplinaire, et les projets bénéficiant aux autochtones et aux autres groupes en quête d’équité seront prioritaires.

Pour en savoir plus sur Esprits branchés/Connected Minds : https://yorku.ca/research/connected-minds.

Cliquez ici pour l’annonce officielle de York : https://www.yorku.ca/news/2023/04/28/york-university-leads-318-4m-first-of-kind-inclusive-next-gen-technology-research-initiative/.

Au nom de toute l’Université, nous tenons à exprimer la fierté et l’enthousiasme de la communauté à l’égard de l’annonce d’aujourd’hui et de ce qu’elle signifie pour l’avenir de la recherche à York.

Félicitations à l’équipe dirigeante d’Esprit branchés/Connected Minds et à toutes les personnes qui ont contribué à la réalisation de cette avancée majeure.

Une nouvelle ère commence pour la recherche et l’innovation à l’Université York.

Sincères salutations,

Rhonda Lenton
Présidente et vice-chancelière

Amir Asif
Vice-président de la recherche et de l’innovation

Ontario’s lieutenant governor to moderate discussion on democracy


La version française suit la version anglaise.

Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell will moderate a discussion titled “Is democracy broken?” as part of The Glendon Global Debates series, April 4 from 7 to 9 p.m. at York’s Glendon Campus.

Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowd
Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell

Dowdeswell will be joined by a panel of expert speakers, including: Clare Hutchinson, a Fellow at Glendon, and a former senior gender advisor with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping & Power Corp Fellow; Susan Pond, a BMO senior Fellow at Glendon, and former NATO executive; and, Emily Laxer, associate professor of sociology and Research Chair in Populism, Rights and Legality at York.

The discussion will consider how different phenomena are currently affecting faith in the functioning of democracies. What role do growing inequalities (and the failure of reforms to address them), the rise of social media and their detrimental effects on public discourse, and the growing tendency of political parties across the spectrum to exploit divisions, play in shifting the stability of democracy? Do these contemporary shifts in political activity and discourse suggest that democracy is truly broken or just frayed? What can be done to restore widespread faith in democracy?

The upcoming panel is the latest entry in The Glendon Global Debates series which began in 2016 with the mission of promoting dialogue between experts from all sectors – government, academics, media, private and more – to identify critical national and foreign policy issues relevant to Canada’s future. Previous topics discussed have included Brexit, smart cities, fake news, housing affordability and women in leadership.

More information about this bilingual and hybrid event, and registration can be found here.

La lieutenante-gouverneure de l’Ontario animera un débat sur la démocratie

La lieutenante-gouverneure de l’Ontario, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, animera un débat intitulé « La démocratie est-elle brisée? » dans le cadre de la série des Débats internationaux de Glendon, le 4 avril de 19 h à 21 h au campus Glendon de l’Université York.

Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowd
Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowd

Mme Dowdeswell sera rejointe par un groupe d’intervenants experts, parmi lesquels : Clare Hutchinson, membre de Glendon et ancienne conseillère principale en matière d’égalité des genres au Département de maintien de la paix des Nations Unies et titulaire de la bourse de recherche Power Corp ; Susan Pond, professionnelle en résidence BMO à Glendon et ancienne cadre de l’OTAN; et Emily Laxer, professeure agrégée de sociologie et titulaire de la Chaire de recherche de York sur le populisme, les droits et la légalité.

La discussion portera sur la manière dont différents phénomènes affectent actuellement la foi dans le fonctionnement des démocraties. Quel rôle les inégalités croissantes (et l’échec des réformes pour y remédier), l’essor des médias sociaux et leurs effets néfastes sur le discours public, ainsi que la tendance croissante des partis politiques à exploiter les divisions, jouent-ils dans la remise en cause de la stabilité de la démocratie? Ces changements contemporains dans les activités et les discours politiques suggèrent-ils que la démocratie est réellement brisée ou simplement abîmée? Que peut-on faire pour restaurer la confiance du plus grand nombre dans la démocratie?

Ce panel est le plus récent événement des Débats internationaux de Glendon qui ont commencé en 2016 en se donnant la mission de promouvoir le dialogue entre les experts de tous les secteurs – gouvernement, universitaires, médias, privé et plus encore – pour identifier les questions critiques de politique nationale et internationale pertinentes pour l’avenir du Canada. Les thèmes déjà abordés ont été le Brexit, les villes intelligentes, les fausses nouvelles, l’accessibilité au logement et les femmes et le leadership.

Cliquez ici pour obtenir plus d’informations sur cet événement bilingue et hybride, ainsi que pour vous inscrire.

York innovation hub receives $3M to support women entrepreneurs

Group of diverse women entrepreneurs

ELLA, run by the University’s innovation hub, YSpace, has received $3 million from a federal government program called Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) to expand support for woman entrepreneurs across the country.

ELLA was created in 2019, with previous funding from WES, as an accelerator program for women entrepreneurs working in areas like tech, retail and food and beverage. It is Ontario’s first accelerator for women-led products and service-based businesses with programs designed to support women entrepreneurs in all stages of the business development process.

Since its creation, ELLA’s programming has supported 167 women, and its ventures have generated $15.9 million in revenue, raised $7.6 million in funding and created 121 jobs. It has also been a critical tool to boost women entrepreneurs during a difficult time. “According to the latest Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) report, service-based women-owned businesses were hit the hardest throughout the pandemic,” said David Kwok, associate director of entrepreneurship at YSpace, adding that ELLA was created to address such challenges.

Until now, ELLA’s focus has been provincial, but the new $3-million funding from WES – announced on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2023 – will enable ELLA to expand its services across Canada. ELLA will now have three national programs supporting women across the country, which include:

  • ELLA Express: A self-paced program designed to equip participants with the knowledge and tools to launch or grow their business;
  • ELLA Ascend: Support early-stage businesses in establishing their business infrastructures and setting up to scale; and
  • ELLA Altitude: Support national and international scale-ups with access to mentorship and our proven fractional executive model to overcome major business challenges.

These programs and the funding initiative aim to provide access to women entrepreneurs in areas such as financing, resources, networks and more to support their businesses and help remove systemic barriers.

YSpace ELLA parcipants
ELLA program participants with YSpace staff

ELLA has a track record of supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs and those who may not traditionally have access to similar programming. 77 per cent of the women supported by ELLA are at the intersection of more than one underrepresented group, and 66 per cent of participants indicate that their involvement in ELLA was the first time they received support from an entrepreneurial program. This funding opportunity with WES enables ELLA to provide more opportunities for women-owned ventures that were previously not supported by existing programming to succeed in the economy.

“This funding from Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada and the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy is not only a signal of confidence in the work we’ve done in the past three years, but the work that we can do to better support the community around us and create greater access,” said Assistant Vice-President of Innovation and Research Partnerships Jennifer MacLean.

“We are very excited to work with and create impact for women-identifying entrepreneurs across Canada over the next two years,” said Marlina Ramchandran, ELLA’s entrepreneurship manager. “We aim to exponentially increase the capacity of skills training by organizing topic specific workshops and foster an inclusive community of women-identifying startups by creating access to mentors and subject matter experts.”

Learn more about YSpace and ELLA here.

York’s AMPD receives federal funding to support mental health of arts, design students

Students gathered around one presenter and microphone against foggy background for open mic

The School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design (AMPD) will receive $200,000 to adapt and implement mindfulness practices for students, faculty and staff as a part of the Canada-wide Mindfulness Initiative.

Announced on Feb. 21, the funding – delivered over three years via the Public Health Agency of Canada – will support a comprehensive set of mental health promotion materials linked to a peer support network and various mindfulness training and practice programs. The impetus behind the project is the realization that growing barriers to gainful employment, the COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation are hardships particularly impacting students. By facilitating mindfulness practices, some of those stresses can be alleviated or mitigated, thereby allowing students to more thoroughly commit themselves to their educations.

At AMPD, the investment will expand programs like music for health and wellness. With this community-based project, AMPD aims to promote mental health to students in a way that builds lifelong coping and resilience skills while in school and beyond graduation.

“AMPD focuses on the whole person,” said Sarah Bay-Cheng, dean of AMPD. “We provide students with the tools to support their physical and mental well-being. Students must develop their technique alongside wellness strategies to reach and sustain their creative potential,”

The initiative is the result of a collaborative effort from York University’s AMPD, Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design University, Seneca’s School of Creative Arts and Animation, and led by OCAD University, to secure government funding for mental health services.

“We are pleased to partner with OCAD on this investment that brings wellness into the core of [our curricula,]” Bay-Cheng added. “We look forward to developing existing initiatives and expanding our wellness mandate into new facets of the School.”

In total, The Mindfulness Initiative will provide nearly $4 million throughout its duration in support of post-secondary student mental health. The funding will enhance students’ coping and resilience skills and create a supportive environment where emerging creative artists and designers, including those from marginalized communities, flourish.

“Our government recognizes that the pandemic has greatly added to the pre-existing mental health and substance use challenges many students and young people face. This is especially true for marginalized and racialized young adults,” says Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett.