Applied Research Project Highlights

Funder: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC): Partnership Development Grants – Community and College Social Innovation Fund

Social innovation is increasingly seen as essential to Canada’s social and economic well-being. Such initiatives can create lasting changes in response to social problems and lead to improvements in the lives of Canadians. Social innovation initiatives can be small, localized strategies aimed at meeting community needs or large projects targeting system-wide objectives. This work can be performed by governments, social service agencies, community organizations, businesses, and—increasingly—by colleges.

The goal of Social Innovation on the Groundwas to provide practical, evidence-based support to Canadians engaged in social innovation. Specifically, the project generated educational resources for social innovators as well as students who may would have joined their ranks. The project was a partnership between Bow Valley College, the United Way of Calgary and Area, The Town of High River, and Mount Royal University.

Objectives of the project included:

Developing an evidence-based set of criteria for evaluating social innovation, and identifying the factors that promote and inhibit its success;
Developing strategies and tools for planning and evaluating social innovation;
Mobilizing knowledge in social innovation planning and evaluation that will enhance the ability of communities and colleges to successfully address local needs; and
Promoting ongoing knowledge sharing among colleges involved in social innovation, and between colleges and the communities they serve.

Research for the project is complete, and the team developed an educational module for social innovation and sharing this, along with project findings, with interested parties. For more information, please contact

Funder: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC): Partnership Development Grants – Community and College Social Innovation Fund

Enhancing the Well-being and Civic Engagement of Immigrant Women Retirees was a two-year SSHRC-funded Community and College Social Innovation Fund project. Bow Valley College and the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association partnered to investigate the critical barriers and available supports for retired immigrant women.

At the end of 2018, near the completion of project's concurrent phases two and three, Dr. Martha Fanjoy and her team worked collaboratively with research participants and partners to co-create a community-delivered program focused on immigrant women retirees’ well-being and engagement.

By engaging with a significant yet overlooked sector of an aging population, this research aimed to raise awareness of the needs and potential of retired immigrant women and to create strategies to promote their civic engagement.

The research process and results can help immigrant-serving agencies and community organizations working with seniors to develop, plan, and implement programs for immigrant women. Further, service providers will be able to use, replicate, and adapt the co-creation program strategy, methods, and tools in order to address a number of broad social concerns.

The project’s scholarly outcomes are grounded in the principles of social innovation, participatory program design, and developmental evaluation. In addition to supporting programming and policy specific to older immigrant populations, the research speaks to the inter-sectional vulnerabilities of being a woman, immigrant, and senior while significantly contributing to the limited knowledge base on retired immigrant women in Canada.

For more information, including the Phase One and Two report and quarterly newsletters, please visit Enhancing Wellbeing and Civic Engagement of Immigrant Women Retirees page. You can also contact Hana Taleb Imai at

Funder: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC): Partnership Development Grants – Community and College Social Innovation Fund

The well-being of Canada's Indigenous children---and their rights to live proudly as Indigenous people in the lands of their ancestors and to enjoy educational opportunities---are basic values underlying the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)'s Calls to Action. Yet a large proportion of Indigenous pre-school children spend much of their lives in child care centres, where staff have most often been trained in methods inconsistent with Indigenous ways of being and knowing. The intergenerational trauma of Indian Residential Schools has had an impact on child rearing. Many Indigenous children and families experience high levels of stress related to the effects of a host of discriminatory policies resulting from colonialism, which have had devastating effects. This is worrisome, given recent research proving that early life experiences, particularly stress, can have permanent effects on the brain. There is a vital need to ensure that those providing child care for Indigenous children have the knowledge required to support healthy social-emotional development that incorporates findings from brain development research while being congruent with Indigenous ways of being and knowing.

The Bow Valley College's Early Learning and Child Care program, the Iniikokaan Indigenous Centre, and its partners, the Kainai First Nation Board of Education and the Palix Foundation, brought together Indigenous researchers, students, subject matter experts, and community Elders and members to collaboratively meet this need.

The goal of the project was to bring together Indigenous and other researchers, students, alumni, early childhood education (ECE) staff, and an Indigenous community, to co-create a culturally appropriate and sustainable model of knowledge generation and translation, which in turn would foster culturally relevant practices supporting healthy social/emotional development of Indigenous children. Objectives included:
Contributing to Recommendation 12 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which calls for development of culturally appropriate early childhood education programs for Indigenous families.
Working closely with local First Nations communities to develop a shared understanding of how to identify and successfully address the implications of pervasive stress on children’s development.
Co-constructing, with Indigenous stakeholders, culturally appropriate strategies for lessening child stress and promoting healthy social/emotional/spiritual development in child care settings.
Piloting, evaluating, and disseminating a culturally appropriate and sustainable in-service learning program for early childhood educators working with Indigenous children that is grounded in local ways of knowing, being, and doing.
Developing knowledge and skills related to the promotion of Indigenous children’s social/emotional well-being.

The project is complete, please see a brief report here.

For more information, please contact Cheryl Kinzel at

Funder. Trico Charitable Foundation

In an effort to promote the stories of amazing Canadian social enterprises, a case study for Women in Need Society (WINS) is now available to the general public, and as a valuable resource for institutions and organizations that require knowledge in social entrepreneurship and social innovation.

“We are excited to announce that the WINS case study is the first of its kind to have three local post-secondary institutions collaborate on a case study,” says Executive Director, Trico Charitable Foundation, Daniel Overall.

It was the result of collaborative research conducted by professionals from the Chiu School of Business at Bow Valley College, Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary.”

WINS received the Trico Charitable Foundation’s Social EnterPrize award in 2015, which celebrates Canadian organizations demonstrating best practices, impact and innovation in social enterprise. Recipients receive prize money, a video profile, and an in-depth profile in a case-study undertaken by a Canadian post-secondary institution.

Click here to download the report.

For more information about the research, please contact

For more information on the Trico Charitable Foundation, please visit:

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