St. Clair College receives $720,000 in social innovation research grant funding

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St. Clair College will be getting $720,000 in social innovation research grant funding to combat youth homelessness and aid with school nutrition in Windsor-Essex. 

Two research grants of $360,000 were awarded for the next three years by the NSERC's College and Community Social Innovation Fund. 

Program Manager of Research and Innovation at St. Clair College, Beckie Berlasty says the grants will help work with community partners to tackle local issues. 

"Social Innovation grants allow us to establish partnerships in the community whether that be with agencies or non-profits, and we help support them in tackling issues at the local level. We work with our programs at St. Clair College, our researchers, students, and faculty, leveraging our expertise and integrating research into curriculum." 

Berlasty says this research will draw attention to community needs and expand on the work already being done. 

"We're changing the way that we look at the needs in our community and the challenges that our community is faced with, using an asset-based approach. It's demonstrating the type of impact we can make when community work is done together, collaboratively. These projects will not only help the youth immediately involved in the projects, but at a larger systemic level." 

She says they have already begun using funds and work has started. 

"So, the work has already gotten started, they are both three-year grants. We started the preliminary data collection, just understanding where the needs are, and understanding what's going on at a local level by reviewing census data, for example. We're going to start intervention design and piloting the programs over the next two years, followed by evaluating the impact." 

The first of two projects will focus primarily on youth experiencing homelessness in partnership with Family Services Windsor-Essex, led by Dr. Kyle Jackson.

The second project, led by Dr. Kathryn Markham-Petro, will focus on school nutrition and involves Ontario Student Nutrition Program South Region (locally run by the VON), AgScape and ProsperUs.