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Criteria for Funding

  • The project must have a clearly articulated mission statement and value proposition for students that could contribute to greater equity through social innovation around one or more issues affecting the health equity levels and well-being of students, which are also highly prevalent in the community at large. Some examples are:
  • Caregiving
  • Mental health challenges
  • Complex chronic diseases
  • Food security
  • The project must focus on one or more issues affecting the health and well-being of students, according to the following conceptualization of the terms:
    • Health is far broader than simply being free of disease (Huber et al., 2011).  It is the ability of individuals or communities to (a) adapt, self-manage and thrive in the face of physical, mental or social challenges, including those of ageing and even in the presence of incurable chronic disease(s) and multi-morbidity; (b) heal when damaged; and (c) to expect death peacefully. 

    • Equity is the absence of systematic disparities between groups with different levels of underlying social advantage/disadvantage - that is, wealth, power, or prestige [Braveman and Gruskin, 2003]. 

    • Social Innovation is the process through which knowledge or ideas are transformed into new products, tools, services, processes, platforms or models that simultaneously meet social needs (more effectively than alternatives) and create new social relationships or collaborations [adapted from European Union, 2015].

  • The project would include a social innovation that promotes equity in health care in Ontario, in Canada or globally.

  • The innovation could be for local use and scalable to cover other geographical areas, ideally with a ‘glocal’ focus (global and local, simultaneously).

  • The project would ideally be executed through a new or existing social enterprise.

  • University students from the U of T must be involved in at least one aspect of the project, from design through analysis and reporting, to implementation and scalability as a social change effort.

  • For the purposes of this seed grant, a social innovator is someone who pursues novel solutions to social problems, which intend to be more effective, efficient, sustainable or just than current solutions. The value created accrues primarily to society rather than to private individuals [Adapted from Stanford Center for Social Innovation]. Analogous to the role of a principal investigator in a research proposal, the principal innovator (or Co-PI) in this case will have primary responsibility for the intellectual direction of the project, and assume administrative responsibility for the grant. In the case of teams or formal partnerships, the principal innovator is understood to be responsible for the overall leadership of the team or partnership [Adapted from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council].

  • The project must clearly outline the methods to assess societal impact that could be attributed, in part or as a whole, to the innovation after/during the implementation period of one year.

  • The seed grants are not intended to fund studies of existing social innovations, or policy development, or to prepare grant proposals or publications.