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Catalyst Grants

Since 2014, we have awarded approximately $150,000 in partnership projects promoting access to post-secondary education, supporting community-based research and creating experiential education opportunities for students.

York's TD CEC Boosts Local, Youth-led Projects

With a $178,000 federal grant received this year from Employment & Social Development Canada (ESDC), the York University TD Community Engagement Centre (CEC) has funded new youth-led projects in the Jane-Finch and Black Creek community. Read more

2023-24: Special Call for Youth-Led Projects

This year we are pleased to announce a special offering of the annual Catalyst Grant focusing on youth-led projects and funded by Employment and Social Development Canada. Eligible projects must be led (planned, managed, delivered) and administered by youth (ages 15-30) who reside in the Black Creek community.

Projects can cover a broad range of ideas that respond to community priorities (e.g., civic engagement, health and wellness, sports and recreation, finances, environment and climate change, access to post-secondary education, etc.). Successful applications will demonstrate potential for positive impact on community well-being in the Black Creek community and align with the core priorities of the CEC.

We encourage you to reach out to us to discuss your ideas or any questions you may have. Contact Anda Petro, Community Projects Coordinator at or 416-736-2100 ext. 20318.

Poster with information about the catalyst grant. Graphic of a group of people building a lightbulb shaped puzzle.

The York University TD (Toronto Dominion) Community Engagement Centre is happy to announce its 2022-2023 Catalyst Grant call out!

For 12 years the York University TD Community Engagement Centre has worked to foster meaningful and impactful relationships between the Black Creek community and York University. One of our successful initiatives is the catalyst grant, which has awarded over $150,000 to meaningful partnerships between Black Creek community residents/organizations and York University Faculty and staff.  This year we are happy to announce our next round of grants to be awarded to projects which meet our eligibility and are selected by our Advisory committee.

Recognizing the opportunity to incorporate sustainability in COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, the CEC is called for proposals that creatively address sustainability in the Jane Finch community, focusing on one or both of the following:

  1. Towards United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Projects that contribute towards the targets indicated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 11: Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.  
  2. Equitable approaches to sustainability: projects contribute to increasing sustainability in a way that is meaningful to the Jane Finch community, taking a multi-disciplinary justice-focused lens.

In partnership with Faculty of Education

The purpose of this project is to address food insecurity amidst the impending climate crisis and rapidly changing conditions. The aim of this project is twofold: 1) use community-based participatory research to answer our research questions; and 2) to develop and strengthen social infrastructure between urban teaching farms in Ontario and provide open-source resources for our communities. Research questions include: 1. How do urban teaching farms in Ontario define critical food pedagogy? 2. What pedagogical strategies are urban teaching farms in Ontario using to advance food justice?

The goal of the proposed collaboration between JFCTA and the Schulich School of Business is to strengthen Year 2 of the youth-led project management initiative. This initiative was conceived to address the lack of economic opportunities which was cited by over 50 community members during community consultations in December 2020 and January 2021. Students from the Schulich School of Business will introduce business approaches to support the initial development of each youth-led project. Jane/Finch youth will apply the learnt theoretical knowledge to conduct environmental scans, develop business cases and project statements, and establish implementation plans and evaluation framework. The business students will host 1 business and project 101 workshop for up to 40 Jane/Finch Youth aged 13-29. Then, the business school students will also conduct 5 follow-up consultations with Jane/Finch Youth.

This proposed program will see Black Creek community seniors involved in community-supported agriculture.  We will engage seniors (including low-income seniors) grow produce to share with the community through community gardens, gardens in their own living spaces, and allotment garden plots rented by the organization. The organizations will deliver workshops, host socials, provide personalized advice and support for participants in developing their gardens. Surplus produce from the farms will be distributed to local food banks, seniors’ day programs, and sold at local farmers’ markets to reimburse seniors (particularly low-income) for expenses of the growing the produce.

YAAACE will work with Dr. Carl James from York University to launch the Centre for Community Safety and Youth Violence. The focus will be on assessing the New Narrative youth violence prevention program YAAACE is starting which focuses on supporting residents in the Jane and Finch community using a public health approach to youth violence prevention and intervention. The focus will be on assessing the New Narrative youth violence prevention program YAAACE is starting which focuses on supporting residents in the Jane and Finch community using a public health approach to youth violence prevention and intervention, including but not limited to experiences related to secure housing and employment. The deliverable would be an infographic and a short video, accessible to the community, that would outline the lived experiences of the participants and the systemic barriers experienced.

By Building Better Together, we invited projects that will tackle some of the challenges that the pandemic more clearly exposed and identify some re-imagined or creative steps forward. More specifically, we asked for proposals that focussed on one or both of the following:

  1. Strengthen Communities: Projects which aim to strengthen a response to a community challenge and/or gap. For example, a project which addresses the gaps exacerbated by COVID-19 on the Black Creek Community.
  2. Enhancing Equity through Anti-Black Racism: Projects which look to improve community outcomes by applying an anti-Black Racism lens

Ghanaian youth who live in Black Creek and surrounding areas require special, culturally-tailored services to address their diverse COVID-related health and educational challenges, including the need for computers, on-line support, and mental health counselling, to cope with the pandemic. To address the service gaps, and further mobilize youth within the community, the Ghanaian Canadian Association of Ontario, in partnership with York University’s Professor Joseph Mensah, seeks to use this project to provide culturally responsive youth support and educational services through mentoring, tutoring, and community programming.

Guyanese-Canadians report experiencing discrimination or unfair treatment based on their ethnicity, race, skin colour, religion, language, or accent. There is need for a coupled solution that addresses the need for affordable housing in the Greater Toronto Area for Guyanese- Canadians, and for a community centre that seeks to mitigate the pre-conditions contributing to the impoverishment of Carribean-Canadians. Guyana Community House (GCH) is a registered nonprofit that is developing equity-based affordable housing via a multi-purpose community centre for the second largest Caribbean community in Canada.

GCH will hire and mentor students from the Jane-Finch/Black Creek community to research, interview and document the current housing situation of Guyanese-Canadians in the community. The GCCC will also offer vital social, cultural, and community based programming (i.e. popular education courses, skills training counselling, employment services…).

This program explores how spoken word poetry and creative writing can be used strategically to cope with and alleviate depression and anxiety. Nathan Baya will then teach participants how to use song writing as a creative outlet to channel emotions in constructive ways. Participants will also work with music producer Savilion on the creation of beats that will provide the soundtracks to their new songs. Hip Hop artist and performance coach Dynesti will mentor participants and help them hone and strengthen their performance skills. The program will culminate with participants performing in a live performance showcase at PEACH. This will be a paid opportunity for all workshop participants.

This project aims to equip future leaders and underserved youth and young adults (i.e. BIPOC, women, non-binary, LGBTQ2S+) with skills to teach their respective communities how to process trauma in a positive, holistic, and easily accessible manner. The goal is to create a free Radical Kindness online educational program and curriculum which addresses the gap in trauma and related mental health materials/resources for specific groups of marginalized youth (i.e. BIPOC, women, non-binary, LGBTQ2S+); and then recruit youth trainers to be trained in this curriculum.

The goals of our project are to: 1) understand the nuanced experiences of racialized people in public green spaces in Jane and Finch through a community-based photovoice research project; 2) strengthen community responses to promote mental health through green space use; 3) contribute to anti- racism planning, policy and community conversations that lead to public green spaces that are equitably health-promoting. We are embedding Research Principles by the Jane Finch Community Research Partnership (JFCRP).

Projects focussed on the current COVID-19 pandemic and its relation to the Jane Finch community in some capacity. This includes but was not limited to projects that addressed the impacts of COVID-19 and projects focused on recovery/rebuilding.

Beam with York’s assistance will be Jane-Finch’s first employment social enterprising (“ESE”). BEAM’s will provide building-support services through an environmentally friendly lens to community property managers and owners, specifically, providing energy efficiency services, such as LED light conversions and window films. BEAM will hire multi-barrier Jane-Finch youth (16-29) who will be supported through paid on-the-job training, provided with transferable business skills, wrap-around support to overcome barriers and after their cohort ends, permanent employment opportunities. Campus Planning, Design & Construction, Facilities Services Department, with the support of the Procurement Department, has agreed in principle to partner with Beam in an appropriate pilot-project that meets the needs of York University and the abilities of Beam. The pilot-project will have Beam hiring 5 youth from Jane-Finch who will work on a construction project at York, for a duration of approximately 6 weeks, supervised by Beam with York oversight. This pilot-project will provide employment, training and transferable skills for 5 youth with barriers to mainstream employment.

This research project aims to understand experiences of older adults and their care givers who are confined at home because of COVID-19. We would like to understand how they are coping with the situation, how their habits and lifestyles changed in this emergency, and what role technology can play to support them in managing their health and wellbeing in this changing world.
We will use interactive participatory research methods such as show and tell, and technology tours.

This project is to create video and web resources that address the financial implications of COVID-19 pandemic on students attending a local secondary school in the Jane Finch community, particularly as students prepare for transition to post-secondary institutions (Emery Collegiate Institute; grades 11 and 12 students). To address these financial challenges, this project will produce 3-4 short videos that build on existing information shared in the financial literacy grade 10 curriculum. the focus of the videos will be to address COVID-19 financial concerns and stressors including financial preparation for post-secondary school and provide relevant knowledge and solutions.
A Calumet and Stong Colleges Peer Leader will work directly with Emery students and support them during the content development process, acting and production and video editing and promotions.

The purpose of this research is to examine the impact of COVID-19 on African newcomers/immigrants in the Jane Finch/Black Creek communities. Our objective is to produce a nuanced gendered analysis on the experiences of African newcomers/immigrants who face multilayered challenges with the risk of further stigmatization and marginalization due to COVID-19 policies. This research will inform current and future policies in ways that support African newcomer/immigrant resiliency, while recognizing that such policies must consider gendered inequities. The scholarly- political aim is to produce research that foregrounds African newcomer/immigrant voices’ lived experiences with potential in-person exhibitions of photos produced by interviewees. This community-based research project will ensure that we at the Harriet Tubman Institute with community partners will make an institutional impact that can inform COVID-19 policy.

365 Dazed will be an anthology that collects submitted stories from youth (ages 12-18) around the Black Creek Community. These stories can be fiction, poetry, journals, or graphic novels but the overall theme must revolve around their time during COVID-19. Both parties involved will be exposed to desktop publishing as the end result will be a professionally bound book. To encourage the necessity of the written word, the selected participants will be paired with a partner from the Filipino students Association of York University (FSAY). Will be leading a series of workshops with both groups online, creating a bridge between all levels of education and the professional workplace.

In 2018-2019, the CEC provided two catalyst grant awards in alignment with our key mandate and goals.

The Jane Finch TSNS Resident Engagement Planning Table Steering Committee intends to deliver a project that addresses mental health/trauma issues experienced by Jane Finch Residents. The target audience is youth who have been involved in the Criminal Justice system and single mothers. The goal is to empower residents through the provision of Mental Health First Aid Training which will provide residents with certified skills to use with themselves, with their families and with the wider Jane Finch Community and that can also be used to enhance their resumes/employment opportunities. In addition the proposal includes the creation of a community of practice for residents certified in Mental Health First Aid in order to provide peer to peer support, resources, and new opportunities to enhance their capacity around mental health issues/ resources.

We realize the importance of healthy food habits and options for healthy eating through our programs. Subsequently, we wish to implement a healthy eating initiative. In addition we hope to utilize key learnings to enhance effectiveness of programming. Specifically, the aim of this community-based research project is to enhance opportunities, knowledge, understanding, and effectiveness of the JFCTA After School Program. The project will focus on 4 main outcomes: Integrating a healthy eating initiative in conjunction with the program, through the addition of workshops and healthy food choices. Evaluating the quality and efficacy of the program using the Program Quality Assessment in Youth Sport (PQAYS) measure. Evaluating and exploring youth leaders’ experiences delivering programming, with a focus on leaders’ development of life skills (i.e., self-confidence, leadership), through focus groups with leaders and drawing upon the Youth Leadership Life Skills Development Scale (YLLSDS) and creating knowledge translation tools (i.e., a video, posters, other materials) to communicate the quality and the impact of the program on youth from the community, in turn assist JFCTA secure sustainable long-term funding for programming. We will Work with Professor and her team to ensure that PQAYS tool is appropriately modified and students are trained to utilized tool effectively and to collect data/conduct assessment of the program quality.

In 2018-2019, the CEC provided three catalyst grant awards in alignment with our key mandate and goals.

A program dedicated to ameliorating mental health issues, augmenting the emotional intelligence of their participants, setting the requisite conditions for educational attainment, and exposing/preparing participants for diverse job opportunities in the 21st century. This is accomplished by exposing participants to the history and experiences of African Americans/Canadians who sought freedom during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, by escaping via the underground railroad.

With the collaboration of the Firgrove Learning & Innovation Community Centre (FLICC), this project aims to expose community youth to creative coding practices that would enhance an experiential, extra-curricular STEAM (STEM with ‘Art’) pedagogy, empower these participants with a safe space to express their thoughts and feelings through computational art, as well as provide York University’s students with an avenue to become academic facilitators and mentors to the broader community.

A 6‐month project of recorded conversations or podcasts that provide information on OSAP Debt Repayment and Debt Rehabilitation, hosted on both York University (LA&PS) and Credit Canada websites. The objectives are to affirm and validate the types of extraordinary problems that indebted students and counselors encounter when attempting to navigate the debt rehabilitation process especially, as well as to provide an overview of the information and solutions explained in more detail on the publicly available Fact Sheets.

In 2017-2018, the CEC provided four catalyst grant awards in alignment with our key mandate and goals.

This series was dedicated to understanding the experiences of families in the Firgrove community facing relocation, the gaps in community supports, residents’ expectations for community infrastructure and recommendations to improve the relocation and resettlement process.

This joint collaboration between Back 2 Basickz and Launch YU is aimed at helping individuals obtain the skills and knowledge that they will need to pursue entrepreneurial roles.

An African Canadian Leadership group at Emery Collegiate who mandate is to explore important issues such as anti-black racism in education, Afrocentric curricula, the eradication of negative stereotypes and Black youth and Black solidarity. It also includes; confidence building and leadership development, intercultural understanding and community service.

PEACH Internet Radio station provides 24 hour streaming of music and community-related segments that support local artists, agencies, and events that impact Jane-Finch cachement.

In 2016-2017, the CEC provided five catalyst grant awards in alignment with our key mandate and goals.

A one day community conference to address the challenges in accessing research conducted in and about the Jane Finch community. This was a follow-up to a successful workshop held in June 2016. The conference culminated in setting up the foundation for a community based research collection and a community based ethics process, guided by a central community-based steering committee.

This March Break program exposed youth in Jane Finch to the design and development of technology

One of the barriers to progress in improving Temp Agency workplaces for workers in JF is that there is limited evidence available regarding violations by these Agencies. The awareness of a growing problem is based largely on anecdotal evidence. This research will identify who are violating agencies in JF – violation of workers rights by the agency or assigning workers to places that violate their rights – what violations are happening, how does it compare to other areas of Ontario, what are concerns of the residents, what is being done by the Ministry of Labour and other government agencies to respond, recommendations of what should be done instead. The project will be used to either determine a law/policy reform project that can serve as a solution to precarious working conditions or further educate the community about their rights as temp workers. It will also demonstrate to law students the importance of resident engagement and community lawyering as an aspect to their future careers as lawyers.

This project focused on developing ways to increase the overall participation of young women within youth spaces in the Jane Finch community, first by understanding the issues and concerns young women face in accessing youth spaces and then by collaboratively creating strategies of inclusion and engagement for young women in community programs and drop-in spaces.

The goals of this project were to support parent engagement in the Black Creek Community elementary and secondary schools and to establish an ongoing support network where parents can successfully engage in their children’s education through access to resources, assistance in navigation of the system, and participation in regular activities and discussions with other parents in the community.

In 2015-2016, the CEC provided six catalyst grant awards in alignment with our key mandate and goals.

The goal was to create an educational outreach program that would engage Black Community youth and encourage learning in the areas of science and Engineering through a series of relevant workshops.

Targeted at youth and York students from the Faculty of AMPD, workshops used various forms of creative art as a method of expression and coping.

The project aimed at providing a body of knowledge assessing body composition, muscle development and cardiovascular health measures of the target group to inform DCC Programming in the area.

The project created workshops tailored to undergraduate International Development Studies and graduate Development Studies at York. It incorporated relevant aspects focusing on the multi-layered socio-economic challenges faced in the Black Creek Community.

The project aimed at organizing a design and planning workshop that would bring residents in the community together to give input to the development of the Metrolinx Maintenance and Storage Facility (MSF) located on prime property in the Jane Finch area.

To offer the Mediation Clinic Intensive to the Jane Finch Community at an accessible location so as to manage existing conflict and help resolve future conflicts.

In 2014-2015, the CEC provided five catalyst grant awards in alignment with our key mandate and goals.

This initiative set out to improve infant and mother mental health by piloting a creative universal screening and support program that has been made for and with key Black Creek community partners.

The Innovation Hub enabled the Jane-Finch community youth to experience academic disciplines and applications that would otherwise go unnoticed.

The TSNS Planning Group enabled the community to advocate for equitable distribution of resources and support.

This project sought to address the issues of environmental hazards embedded in the Jane-Finch community through collaborative urban planning at the community level, which is then linked to policy and decision-makers at the municipal level.

To innovate efforts to take ownership of Black Creek Community Farm in racialized communities. To also address racism in our food justice network.