Projects that help improve lives, from major cities to the remotest communities across Ontario.
- Grassroots help in Northern communitiesFind out more
Through its innovative Community Economic and Social Development Program, Algoma University connects students with urban, rural, and First Nations communities in Northern Ontario to do work placements in communities that benefit from their help. Students take the hands-on experience gained through placements at organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Children’s Aid Society and Garden River First Nations, and can apply it to future careers in community development. Graduates are eligible for certification by the Economic Developers’ Association of Canada and the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Offices, and have gone on to work with government, not-for-profits, youth development agencies, and economic development associations.
- Improving literacy in disadvantaged childrenFind out more
Education students at Nipissing University developed NU Reads, a community service that encourages North Bay children to cultivate a love for reading while improving their literacy skills. The club brings together low-income children aged four to 12 and university students for many kinds of reading activities. The sessions take place on weekends and at summer camps.
- Fixing flaws in foster careFind out more
In the biggest study of its kind on Canada’s foster-care system, Western University Faculty of Education Professor Alan Leschied examined data from every province and territory, including almost 1,000 foster care families. The study revealed an increasing number of children dealing with complex issues stemming from violence and neglect, while the number of foster care families was declining. His study revealed insights into why people become foster parents, what engages them, and factors, such as stress and financial, that were making them abandon the system. Beyond shining the light on needed reforms of foster care systems, the study resulted in the creation of an online support and education resource for foster families across the country.
- Mentoring black youth in east TorontoFind out more
The Imani Academic Mentorship Program run by students at the University of Toronto Scarborough is dedicated to mentoring underserved black youth in the local community. Black UTSC students in the program volunteer as mentors to black children in six elementary and high schools, forging relationships and encouraging them in their academic work. As well as providing help and advice with homework, the students organize larger groups to discuss and celebrate Afrocentric culture. Since 2005, more than 1,000 school students have been mentored by more than 500 students from the university.
- Training Indigenous students for the health professionsFind out more
The Indigenous Mentorship Network Program (IMNP), based out of Western University, is an initiative to grow and support community-based health research and training opportunities for Indigenous students and researchers across Ontario. It’s a provincial network of Indigenous health training guided by a Community Advisory and Elders Council, comprising 13 research institutions and a team of 70 researchers, trainees and community collaborators. It provides scholarships, seed grants, webinars, research innovation and publishing opportunities to trainees, postdoctoral fellows and new investigators. Hundreds of young researchers will receive training through the program.
- Job connections for people who need them mostFind out more
Magnet is a not-for-profit social initiative co-founded by Toronto Metropolitan University and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce that aims to help underserved youth, new immigrants and people with disabilities find employment. The online network was originally designed to help graduates find work that fit their skills, using job-matching technology tailored to communicate students’ experiences, accomplishments and education to employers. But the initiative took off and has grown into a collaborative hub of postsecondary institutions, not-for-profits, government, labour and industry partners helping Canadians in need to escape unemployment by linking them with prospective employers.
- Help during a taxing timeFind out more
Brock University accounting students from the Goodman School of Business partner with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and volunteer their time to provide free tax-filing clinics for the Niagara community. Students get relevant job experience and are fully trained by the CRA as part of the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, while people in the community of low or modest income are able to access helpful tax advice during filing season.
- Students take to the streets to make a differenceFind out more
Every year during February reading week, Queen’s University students volunteer in the local community as part of the Queen’s Cares program. During the four-day program, students work in teams and partner with local community organizations on projects that include working with people with intellectual disabilities, mentoring children and low-income or disadvantaged job seekers and, recently, helping a group of newly-arrived Syrian women develop entrepreneurial skills. Queen’s Cares also partners with Western University to offer students community service opportunities nationally and internationally.
- A shiny new hub for entrepreneurial spiritsFind out more
York University has opened the YSpace building in the nearby city of Markham. It’s a community engagement centre for local students and entrepreneurs to build and scale their ventures, connect with industry and not-for-profit partners, and get access to programs designed to build their entrepreneurial skills in York Region. It features a “maker space” with 3-D printers and other technology for building prototypes, an accelerators space for start-ups, and workshop and training spaces. YSpace is also working with York District School Board to pilot a new course for Grade 12 students called Youth Innovation By Design, focusing on how innovation works and how innovators succeed by identifying problems and creating business opportunities from them.
- Law students offer free advice to those in needFind out more
Ontario university law schools offer free legal consultations to those who need it most. At York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, the Community and Legal Aid Services Program (CLASP) is a student-run legal aid clinic that gives pro bono advice to low-income and marginalized members of the community on everything from family to criminal law. Students benefit from the experience gained on real-life cases, while the clients get access to legal help they could not otherwise afford. Similar free legal clinics are offered by law schools at Queen’s, Lakehead, Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor and Western.
- A different kind of library in KitchenerFind out more
Wilfrid Laurier University supported graduate student Devon Fernandes to open a Library of Things in Kitchener, a non-profit initiative where, instead of books, users can borrow objects such as tools, kitchen items and leisure equipment. It’s an important community project that gives locals affordable access to items and is providing meaningful employment to local people with disabilities who are staffing the operation. Libraries of Things have been popping up around the world as a sustainable alternative to buying expensive tools and equipment, which owners rarely use. Laurier is partnering on the project with e Sustainable Societies Consulting Group and Extend-A-Family Waterloo.
- Free university courses for the least fortunateFind out more
Homeless and low-income Ottawans have been receiving free university-level courses under a partnership between the University of Ottawa and the Ottawa Mission called Discovery University. The program is designed to reduce the isolation and social disadvantages of poverty and give the recipients a step up and sense of achievement. Discovery University offers courses in the fall and winter, primarily on Humanities and Social Sciences, on the UOttawa campus. Courses offered include digital photography (including the free loan of cameras), sociology and creative writing.
- Solutions for community challenges in PeterboroughFind out more
About 40 student research projects are conducted with community partners every year under a partnership between Trent University and the Trent Community Research Centre (a separate non-profit corporation). The students earn an academic credit, while community partners receive real-world solutions to issues they’re facing. In one example, eight Trent University students are working on community-based projects designed to generate solutions to the affordable housing crunch in Peterborough. Other research projects include community food production and accessibility and inclusion at local businesses. The centre aims to be a catalyst of community change through research, providing students with hands-on learning and delivering valuable research to partners.
- Indigenous students work with non-profitsFind out more
Nipissing University’s Biidaaban Community Service-Learning program gives Indigenous students opportunities to enhance their work experience while helping those at need in the community. Students are matched with local not-for-profit organizations and community agencies based on their interests and the host organization’s needs. The students take part in activities such as proposal writing, fundraising, organizing community events and creating meaningful programming to support clients and community.